Look, just thinking about Kanye can be exhausting, let alone writing about him, so bear with me and just believe me when I say this:
Kanye West's new album, ye, is not a total and complete mess.
Premiered in the middle of nowhere in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Thursday night to a crowd of journalists, "influencers" (ugh) and friends and fellow rappers, the album that Chris Rock introduced around the campfire as ye isn't the grand Andy Kaufman "just kidding about all that Trump stuff" reveal that some were hoping for, nor is it an ugly, scattered double-down on his recent logic-challenged statements.
Kanye's new album is, essentially, a by-the-numbers Kanye album. It's better than the homemade wreck that was The Life of Pablo. That may be because, mercifully, it's only seven songs long.
Here are the five biggest takeaways.
1. The album moves from dark to light.
I mean, it starts off with Kanye wanting to kill Kim Kardashian. He doesn't say his wife's name, but in context it's clear: "I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so / Today I thought about killing you / Premeditated murder." The next track deals with bipolar disorder (which he calls a "superpower... ain't no disability"), psychedelic drugs like DMT, scaring himself, and going off meds. But by the end of the record, after expressing gratitude to his wife for getting him through the rough patch, the climax comes: "And nothing hurts anymore / I feel kinda free."
2. Kanye is still obsessed with himself.
You knew this already, but it reaches new heights on ye, with self-referential lines about "How, Sway?!," his recent appearance on TMZ, his verbal diarrhea about slavery being a choice. His fascination with Trump comes through in lyrical references to Stormy Daniels and North Korea. Regarding his recent controversies, he says, "Now I'm on fifty blogs gettin' fifty calls / My wife callin', screamin', said we 'bout to lose it all."
3. Kanye is still a child.
Behold, "All Mine," which is basically the full-length song version of that dumb line from "Father Stretch My Hands" about a model who bleaches a certain place. Did you know that to get a genie out of a bottle, you have to rub yourself? Did you know that in order to stare at a woman's breasts, you have to focus on two things at once? Did you further know that Kanye likes to think about other women he could be having sex with besides his wife? All of this and more (and by "more," I mean very, very dumb puns about cum) can be yours in this song, which apparently was written by a 12-year-old.
4. Kanye still has a damaged relationship with women.
This is big, because the narrative on this album is going to be, in many sectors, "THIS IS KANYE'S GROWING UP ALBUM." He is, to be sure, very grateful to one woman—Kim—for getting him through a rough patch. Closing out "Wouldn't Leave," he says, "For every damn female that stuck with what they do through the best times, through the worst times / This for you." The next song has Charlie Wilson singing, over and over, "Make no mistake girl / I still love you."
But loving one woman and having a better relationship with all women are two vastly different things. On the last song, Kanye reflects, "Now I see women as somethin' to nurture, not somethin' to conquer," clearly speaking only about his daughter, before wishing that she, uh... never grows breasts?! "I pray your body's draped more like mine and not like your mommy's," he says, continuing later, "I pray that you don't get it all at once / curves under your dress." Speaking of praying, Kanye is praying for Russell Simmons, "'Cause he got #MeToo'd." Elsewhere: bragging about how many girls he's taken to get boob jobs, seeing women as a "food court" where he can get a "sample," and oh god this is all just so boring and dull so I'll stop.
5. There is one truly great-ass song on this Kanye West album.
The album's musical and emotional climax, "Ghost Town" features Kid Cudi, Chance the Rapper, 070 Shake, and is a complete and total summertime anthem of liberation. Kanye's always been skilled at taking Western classical chord progressions to new places, and here, he interpolates them against the intro of an old piano spiritual with the lyric "Someday I will wear the starry crown." The melody is triumphant, and no one with a beating heart could fail to feel elation for the guy, with all his issues, at the highpoint in the song: "We're still the kids we used to be / I put my hand on the stove to see if I still bleed, yeah / And nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free." If Kanye had any sense, he'd make this the last song on the album, 'cause nothing can follow it.
'ye' is out on June 1.