2018 has been such a whirlwind of a year for Kanye West, but it has also introduced us to what many fans are calling "Soft Ye." West's phenomenal eighth studio album, ye, is a side of him we haven't seen much of before. At least not in this way. Much of the dark versus light themes explored on the very short, 23-minute record could stem from the events of 2016, in which his wife was robbed. This then led to the cancellation of half of his tour dates, but it seems as if he's grown significantly as a human being after his hospital admittance for exhaustion and just wants everyone to love everyone.
The album cover says it all with the words "I hate being Bi-Polar it's awesome" scribbled in the center. This is a nod to what West is about to publicly share with the world with ultimate vulnerability. He opens the album with "I Thought About Killing You", which is essentially a conversation between himself and his inner demon ("I think about killing myself, and I love me way more than I love you"). It gives us a front row look at what he's been dealing with, mainly mentally and emotionally, and it's almost shocking how much he's decided to reveal. Ye has nothing to hide and it takes an enormous amount of strength and courage to just put it out there like that. He made rapping about his feelings a thing before Drake ever did with 808s & Heartbreak, an album that compares nicely to ye. He wasn't even afraid to shed some tears at the listening party/live stream he had in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on May 31st.
He addresses everything people have been talking about or wondering about ever since the Pablo era ended, especially with more recent event. His opiod addiction, his TMZ appearance, seeking professional help, and calling his bipolar disorder his "superpower." All of these mentions are just from one track, the standout banger "Yikes". If you want the soft stuff, it can be found on "Wouldn't Leave" or "Violent Crimes". The former is a dedication to women who've stuck with their significant others through thick and thin and that it's okay to be soft and/or admit to having mental health issues ("You know I'm sensitive, I got a gentle mental"). The latter is really meant for his two daughters, North and Chicago, where he warns them that men are only after one thing and that his perspective on women has drastically changed ("'Cause now I see women as somethin' to nurture / Not somethin' to conquer"). He briefly touched on this subject similar to this on Late Registration with "We Major" ("Until you have a daughter, that's what I call karma / And you pray to God she don't grow breasts too soon"). It's funny how something from 13 years ago comes back around and is more relevant now than before.
It was also a treat to hear Ye and Cudi collaborate again on "Ghost Town", another standout from the album, and it only makes the anticipation for June 8th's collaboration album, Kids See Ghosts, that much greater. It's also worth singling out newcomer 070 Shake. The 19 year-old singer from New Jersey can be found on two songs, but makes the biggest impact with her unique vocals laid on this specific track. She arguably has the catchiest hook on the album even though it's about putting your hand on a stove to see if you still bleed. Mental health is a serious issue that millions face and it's a topic that isn't at all talked about as much as it should be. West used his voice and this album as a platform to start this dialogue, and that's pretty fucking cool. ★★★★
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