Kanye West just wants his music to do the talking, except when he broke his no media rule to talk on record about it. Not only is his June 18 LP Yeezus the most anticipated album this year, it is also the one that music fans and critics know the least about — until this week.
Without a traditional radio single or video (or traditional anything) in place, 'Ye played Yeezus for a group of journalists and A-listers like Jay-Z and Beyoncé on Monday, and then, on Tuesday night The New York Times published a rare and in-depth interview with the star and luckily he gave us some tidbits. So what have we learned about Yeezus so far? Let's recap.
Rick Rubin's Contributions Were Humbling To Kanye
In order to move his brand of hip-hop to the next level, Kanye turned to famed producer Rick Rubin for Yeezus. During the recording sessions at Rubin's Malibu studio, he taught Yeezy to strip away the layers of his music. "I'm still just a kid learning about minimalism, and he's a master of it. It's just really such a blessing, to be able to work with him," 'Ye told the Times before admitting that the Def Jam co-founder humbled him.
Yeezus Is New Wave?
A funny thing happened to Yeezy on the way to releasing his sixth solo LP, the rap star found out that he had crossed-genres. West didn't say that he was no longer hip-hop, but his musical boundaries have clearly been pushed away. "I didn't realize I was new wave until this project," he said of the popular 1980s genre.
When In Paris, Learn To Deal With Crappy Acoustics
Spending time in Paris has added a lot of Kanye's musical and artistic growth, even when his recording conditions left much to be desired. "I lived in Paris in this loft space and recorded in my living room, and it just had the worst acoustics possible," he said, "but also the songs had to be super simple, because if you turned up some complicated sound and a track with too much bass, it's not going to work in that space."
Trips To The Louvre Were Also Helpful
"I would go to museums and just like, the Louvre would have a furniture exhibit, and I visited it like, five times, even privately," he retold of how famed European architect Le Corbusier influenced him. "And I would go see actual Corbusier homes in real life and just talk about, you know, why did they design it? They did like, the biggest glass panes that had ever been done."
You Can Take The Boy Out Of Chicago...
Kanye's love affair with his hometown is well-documented. On his 2004 debut The College Dropout he gave us a taste of the Chi's distinct house sound at the tail-end of "The New Workout Plan," but with Yeezus he goes much further. "I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house," he said. "I think that even 'Black Skinhead' could border on house, 'On Sight' sounds like acid house, and then 'I Am a God' obviously sounds, like, super house."