So Help Me God / Swish / Waves / Untitled: The West Side Story

There often comes an awakening during the damned humdrummery of human existence that jolts us out of this precondition (at least for a little while). For me it will be when Kanye West’s new album — tentatively titled “Waves” — drops. I’ve written an article in the past in defense of Kanye West, and I would like to add another notch to the proverbial bedpost. West has been teasing this album for a few months now, dropping non CDQ clips, live performances, and even music videos of songs that had a slight possibility of being in the album. I was enthralled by two in particular: “Real Friends” and “No More Parties In L.A.”

Real Friends

There’s something very Kafka-esque about this song. Perhaps it’s about the inability to escape the vicissitudes of fame and its ability to engulf everyone around you, turning them into adversaries. The song is eerily reminiscent of the painting “A Bigger Splash” by David Hockney. It’s a looking glass into Kanye’s past. Seemingly static, yet tinted with murky undertones. However, the song still manages to be “present.” There’s a vivid phantasm that Kanye manages to construct with the beat. One of a late-capitalist nouveau riche L.A love story; parties littered with drugs, humidity enveloping every inch of a body lying by the pool, and a drive down the city as the tires skid weightlessly. All these — I feel — are tenuously held together by a transient string. This song is the string.

No More Parties In L.A.

The song starts off sounding like a mix of Gospel music and Funk. Not all of it is eschewed as Kendrick Lamar steps up to the microphone (although a darker, funk driven beat is favored). Lamar spits an extraordinary verse as per usual, but surprisingly Kanye manages to outshine him. Lyrically, Kanye delves into the polarity between poverty and wealth, exhibiting a more lucid flow than the Kanye we’re used to. As those of you who’ve taken the time to listen to his past work probably know, he’s pretty mediocre in terms of lyricism and technical ability. But in this song, he holds up a veneer of impressive technical prowess.

Time will tell whether this album turns out to be one of Kanye West’s best works or sub-par overtly iconoclastic preachy trite. I say this only because Kanye is at a point in his life he’s never been before: he’s happy. In the waning paradisal years of his life, he has managed to find the woman of his dreams and has had two children that he (probably) loves as much as he loves himself. It’s the archetypal success story, and at this point the curtains drop and the credits roll. Although I would like to say with temerity that this album will be another phenomenal description of the intricacies of fame and capitalism — I have to waiver on the slight possibility that contentment may have led to complacency.