Yeezus hath arrived. Kanye West's mysterious, much-hyped sixth album leaked just in time for lunch on Friday, and Fuse immediately dove in. (We'll pay for the real thing on Tuesday, though—we're grown-ups.) Here, our thoughts on the Rick Rubin-executive produced, Daft Punk-assisted, thoroughly Kanye album.
1. "On Sight": We open on the sound of a computer's guts, or a spaceship crash, or a spaceship crashing into a computer's guts. Kanye knows we're still thinking about "Monster," referencing the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track within his first few lines. It's important to Kanye that we understand Yeezus will be (a) endlessly lascivious and (b) unapologetic about switching gears from Daft Punk-ified apocalypse vibes to soothing vibes and right back. The meltdown at the end of "On Sight" sounds like it was designed to get us guessing if the leak is real, or if our listening device is exploding from inside.
2. "Black Skinhead": Don't listen to anyone who says this isn't a rap album. There's enough serious rapping on this track alone for it to count as a rap album. (Yes, it's many, many other things, as well.) Kanye could have committed more to the screams, but this track has a version of catchiness "On Sight" lacked. Something tells us the word "catchy" didn't ever pop into 'Ye's brain making this record, though.
3. "I Am a God": This is the first trace of traditional Kanye-style all-over-the-place production, and the third straight cut contributed by Daft Punk. It's got the real screams "Black Skinhead" shirked, and winds up going to a terrifying place. Can't wait to hear a crowd scream "HURRY UP WITH MY DAMN CROISSANTS," though.
4. "New Slaves": After being projected on buildings, performed on SNL, and done a capella, there's not a lot of surprise left in the studio version of "New Slaves." But—but! We didn't expect the slight chipmunk throwback and the the auto-tuned outro. Those hoping for a "No Church in the Wild"-sized bite of Frank Ocean aren't going to be psyched, but he's technically there. With all of this no-warning jumping from sound to sound, it seems like Yeezus might want to simulate the feeling of flipping the radio dial only to find one of your favorite songs is already playing on the other station.
5. "Hold My Liquor": Ah, some breathing room. Some calm. And a break from Kanye himself—dude doesn't show up till past the one-minute mark, leaving the opening to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and, improbably, Chief Keef. (How cool is it that Vernon is now, between Yeezus and Dark Twisted Fantasy, officially one of Kanye's go-to guys?) The confessional, somber tone here feels a little reminiscent of "Runaway," but even that's a stretch. Nothing on Yeezus really sounds even remotely like anything Kanye's ever offered. If you're not helplessly lost in the middle of this album by now, resigned to the fact you have no clue where you've been or where you're going...you're doing it wrong.
6. "I'm In It": "Damn, your lips very soft," Kanye starts. Sounds romantic on paper, but terrifying in the ear. And that's as romantic as it gets—this quickly becomes one of the raunchiest songs ever made. Lots more Justin Vernon, though. He's running away with this album. Kanye's closing line is "I be speakin' Swaghili." Just putting that out there.
7. "Blood on the Leaves": Is that a piano we hear? And an 808s & Heartbreak-sounding Yeezy? Interesting. But at this point, anyone not bracing for the inevitable robot breakdown and/or absolute auditory flip is a fool. Maybe it'll never come? After all, Nina Simone is being sampled here. (Fun fact: RZA sampled Simone for Watch the Throne's "New Day," too. All Nina everything.) Ah, and there's the change. Now we're in "Jesus Walks" bombast territory. This track is guaranteed to be counted as one of the album’s centerpieces.
8. "Guilt Trip": More auto-tune, and some Electric Light Orchestra sounds? This vaguely fits in with the rest of Yeezus's tonal family, but we're getting an alarming sensation of amnesia with each song, like we're starting a new album every four minutes. This project could take months (years?) to fully comprehend. The line "Star Wars fur, yeah I’m rockin' Chewbacca," however, is immediately enjoyable.
9. "Send It Up": Yikes, this one starts as the scariest, most dissonant thing so far. More than most of the other tracks, "Send It Up" is going to require a few dozen more listens to have real thoughts about. For now we can say: How about that dude singing at the end, huh? (Whoever he is. This is one reason it's good to wait for and/or definitely purchase the real album, kids: Real album credits to read through.)
10. "Bound 2": Kanye duels with various samples the way he and Jay-Z wrestled with Otis Redding on Watch the Throne. Somehow, even with the zany buffet of styles and switcheroos, this sounds like a logical conclusion. Now excuse us while we permanently set Yeezus on Repeat All until we figure it out.