Kanye West recording “Yeezus.”
We’re firing up our credit cards this morning as we finally get the chance to cop Kanye West’s highly anticipated Yeezus, but thanks to a little leak Friday afternoon, we’ve been able to preview the tracks (and/or blow out our speakers with them over the weekend) before today’s official release. The album is a stark, splintering departure from the lush, sweeping orchestral tendencies of Ye’s previous My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with Yeezus instead riddled with electricity and synth and DRUMS and #yeezyscreams. The new sound is unexpected and may only be immediately welcomed by ride-or-die Yeezy fans, but as far as lyrics go, Kanye brings his knack for storytelling and unflinching wit out full-force per usual.
Yeezus (much like West’s accompanying New York Times interview) is rife with quotables, ranging from the acerbic “I’d rather be a d*** than a swallower” on his call-to-action “New Slaves” to the arguably tongue-in-cheek “Hurry up with my damn croissants” off “I Am A God.” One thing is for sure, though: there’s no shortage of fashion references. Rap Genius may have the most comprehensive unpacking of ALL of Ye’s lyrics, but this world is our turf. (In Yeezy’s own words, “Don’t talk about style ’cause I’ll embarrass you.”) Thus, we took the liberty of noting every fash-specific line on Yeezus and are decoding them all right here.
Yeezy season approaching
F*** whatever y’all been hearin’
F*** what— f*** whatever y’all been wearin’
A monster ’bout to come alive again
This, post-Yeezus world shall from this moment on be known as “Yeezy Season,” and not only is everything you’ve been listening to null and void from this point forward, so is everything you’ve been wearing. Kanye’s back. This is how the album opens.
Take my number, lock it in
Indian hair, no moccasins
These two lines, as far as we know, are non sequiturs, but that second bit is most certainly about weaves. You could infer that from the term “Indian hair” alone, but the addition of “no moccasins” is a kind of crude, quick and dirty means to letting you to know that he’s talking about hair from the Republic of India (which is the source of many luxury weaves), not that of Native Americans.
Black Timbs all on your couch again
Black d*** all in your spouse again
A couplet of unapologetic IDGAF. Make no mistake, Kanye will put his black Timberland boots all over your upholstered furniture AND his “black d***” in your spouse (speaking undoubtedly to Kris Humphries). Again.
One last announcement
No sports bra, let’s keep it bouncin’
Kanye wants you AND the party to keep bouncing. Just like your chest does when you don’t wear a sports bra.
For my theme song
My leather black jeans on
My “By any means” on
Pardon, I’m gettin’ my scream on
For Kanye, leather black jeans and Malcolm X go hand-in-hand, an external display of similar force.
I AM A GOD
Old n***** mentally still in high school
Since the tight jeans, they ain’t never liked you
Pink ass polos with a f****** backpack
But everybody knows you brought real rap back
Kanye is convinced that aspects of his style have contributed to some people and critics turning away from him and his music. This is similar to that one time he said people don’t like Givenchy Kanye. Jury’s out on whether that other line is lauding or lamenting his former pink polo + backpack steez.
Nobody else swag, man, we the Rat Pack
Virgil Pyrex, Don C snapback
Ibn Diamond, Chi-town shinin’
This might be the most fashion-loaded excerpt from the album as Yeezy shouts out to his Chicago fashion crew: Virgil Abloh and Pyrex Vision, Don C and his Just Don snakeskin snapbacks, and Ibn Jasper and streetwear label Diamond Supply Co.
Pyrex Vision, Just Don, and Diamond Supply Co.
Photo: Pyrex Vision/RSVP Gallery/Diamond Supply Co.
Doing clothes, you would’ve thought I had help
But they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself
“New Slaves,” as we’ve said before, is kind of like Kanye’s definitely-not-love-but-not-quite-hate letter to the fashion industry. His frustrations first bubble in the song at this line where he points out that he didn’t get the kind of help you’d expect him to wrangle when he was putting together his clothing line.
You see, it’s broke n**** racism
That’s that, “Don’t touch anything in the store,”
And it’s rich n**** racism
That’s that, “Come in. Please buy more.”
“What you want? A Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?”
“All you blacks want all the same things.”
Ye shines a flashlight on certain perceivably racist aspects of consumer culture and how they transcend socioeconomic status and morph to fit.
Used to only be n*****, now everybody playin’
Spendin’ everything on Alexander Wang
But Kanye doesn’t discriminate when it comes to pointing out fashion victims. No one is immune, as hyped up fashion is more pervasive now than ever.
F*** you and your Hampton house
I’ll f*** your Hampton spouse
Came on her Hampton blouse
And in her Hampton mouth
West lashes out against the Hamptons as a symbol of concentrated wealth and ruins a woman’s shirt with man milk (not a scientific term) in the process.
HOLD MY LIQUOR
Yeezys all on your sofa
These the Red Octobers
Here’s the second instance of Kanye’s favorite insulting gesture at the moment: putting his shoes on your couch. This time, it’s the collaboration Air Yeezy sneakers he did with Nike, more specifically those elusive red Yeezy 2s. The trouble is: does this line mean he’s releasing the shoes in October or did he just name them after the submarine?
Red Air Yeezy 2s.
Photo: @Jsussneaks’ Instagram
I’M IN IT
Uh, I know you need that reptile
Uh, she cut from a different textile
If not for the mention of “textile” here, “I’m In It” might’ve been the only track on the album without any lyrical references to fashion or the clothing industry. (Though, Travis Scott could very well be rattling off designer names, and we’d have no idea.) Before we move on to the next song, we should note that Ye likens his *achem* member to a cold-blooded animal. Also, don’t sleep on the “Swag-hili” line that ends the track.
BLOOD ON THE LEAVES
And all I want is what I can’t buy now
Cause I ain’t got the money on me right now
“Blood On The Leaves” is markedly similar in theme to “New Slaves” as both songs explore the idea of racism coupled with consumerism. These two lines are pretty straightforward but serve as an example of the more melancholy tone of “Blood” as opposed to the resentment boiling over “Slaves.”
She Instagram herself like “Bad bitch alert”
He Instagram his watch like “Mad rich alert”
He only wanna see that a** in reverse
Two thousand dollar bag with no cash in your purse
Not only does this section feature the most hilarious tech reference on the album (we’re crossing our fingers that those alerts are really meant to be stylized as hashtags), but it also narrows in on Kanye’s preoccupation with the pitfalls of hood rich mentality. *cue the hook of “All Falls Down”*
It’s gettin’ cold, better bring your ski clothes
Pick it through the keyhole, the door locked by myself
Wait, this brings up a great question: if Kanye went skiing, what would he wear? We already know there would be some sort of mask involved, but what else? Can you imagine Yeezy in puffy, full-body Moncler snowsuit? With mirrored goggles and big ol’ boots?
Star Wars fur, yeah I’m rockin’ Chewbacca
The one Chief Rocka, number one Chief Rocka
Again with the quotables. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more Chewy references around these parts when the seasons start to change again. *Agghhghllghgghglglhh* #chewyscream
Kanye in fur, rockin’ Chewbacca.
SEND IT UP
She can’t go to work, same clothes again
And her heart colder than the souls of men
Louboutin on the toes again
Tight dress dancing close to him
Yeezus just rose again
Christian Louboutin (NOT Giuseppe Zanotti) lands one of the few explicit brand references throughout the album by way of a girl who may or may not be embarking on a “Walk of Shame.” We wonder, though, why Ye didn’t just go the whole nine yards with the tight dress note and call a spade a spade (or an Herve Leger bandage dress). Also, is he referring to his boner as Yeezus? Because that’s how I’m reading this. Double also, can I say “boner” here? Oh, just did. Twice. Cool.
“What you doin’ in the club on a Thursday?”
She say she only here for her girl birthday
They ordered champagne but still look thirsty
Rock Forever 21 but just turned thirty
AND THERE WE GO! I know there are two more sets of lyrics that we pulled from the album, but Kanye addressing Forever 21, to us, is a mic drop of a fashion reference. Too good.
Ugh, this that prom s***
This that what we do, don’t tell your mom s***
This that red cup, all on the lawn s***
Got a fresh cut, straight out the salon, b****
Yeezy likens unspecified prom night *achem* mischief to casual outdoor summer hangtime AND to a brand new haircut, and it couldn’t be more perfect. Fresh, new, exciting. “Bound 2” is also all of those things and is the track I find most interesting on Yeezus. It serves well to end the album, in a way, resurrecting you from the grit and harsh of the rest of the work with its exuberant soul-sampling, the Kanye hallmark that put him on the map in the first place, and in a way, that creates a kind of two-fold nostalgia.
I wanna f*** you hard on the sink
After that, give you somethin’ to drink
Step back, can’t get spunk on the mink
I mean damn what would Jeromey Romey Romey Rome think?
And wrapping things up, we leave you with Kanye’s second and final mention of defiling garments with his little swimmers. This time, though, he makes an effort to keep things tidy in the name of fur. Because Yeezus is nothing if not a gentleman. Err, right?