For those who were lucky enough to figure out how to actually listen to TLOP, you may notice a few things about it. With this album it seems that Kanye West has now moved from being a rapper to being the singular artist for the digital age. 38 years young, he’s managed to dominate the shoe industry, produce groundbreaking work, and yes, integrate himself into the Kardashian family.
The album listening party was impressive. It actually looked pretty comparable to the refugee camp photo that he used to promote the event. All of the models standing stone faced in Yeezy gear as the music played over top. All of them looking like displaced persons that somehow managed to find themselves on the desert planet Tatooine. I feel like there’s something Star-Wars-Esque about the Yeezy line with it’s dystopian futurist style. The music as its backdrop creating something out of science fiction, what one could call extraterrestrial.
Song by song, now that No More Parties has been removed from TLOP’s tracklist, the album feels like an extension of the dark industrialism of Yeezus. Kanye once again will settle for nothing less than pushing the boundaries right off the goddamn cliff.
Lyrically, the focus on his own status and celebrity moves between between enjoyably ridiculous (“I wish my dick had a Go Pro”) to sharp and self-aware. An a cappella verse that appears at the end of “Feed Back” which has him either playing a fan that misses the “old Kanye” or him reflecting on his own self end with him cheekily saying “I love you like Kanye love Kanye”.
With this comment Kanye shows us that he is very much aware of his egomaniac persona, and tosses a few bones to any detractors by saying that it doesn’t phase him. The album was exciting to hear. Chance The Rapper’s verse on the opening track “Ultra Light Beams” has him boasting of an upcoming Kanye-produced album aimed directly at a Grammy award. Frank Ocean has stayed fairly quiet the past few years, but has still managed to make an appearance on the album’s final track. The opening on High Lights, has a woman’s voice talking about the good fortune bestowed upon her by someone who is either God or Kanye (or according to Kanye, both).
A self-professed Christian, Kanye definitely believes that he has been put here not entirely by his own will, but by the will of someone else. Whether or not Kanye has truly been touched by the Lord’s power, there is something truly exciting about his work. Kanye manages to consistently make material that hits in a way that manages to first hit you like something that could almost be a spiritual awakening. Though with music like this, we’ve usually seen this to be the work of the Devil.
Speaking of the bottom pits of hell, the TIDAL stream of the album was frustrating to say the least. The only reason I was lucky enough to actually catch a glimpse of the world premier of TLOP was because a random kid on Twitch (a site usually used for live streaming video games) started streaming it on his page. Thanks to him, I and a little over 4000 other people managed to watch the action in Madison Square Garden.
He let me ask him a few questions over Twitter.
Northern Transmissions: So where you from exactly?
KRUNKYXO: I’m from weak ass Kentucky, haha. Born and raised man.
NT: Are you working, going to school?
KO: Yeah, I’m going to school right now for Video Game Design. And currently unemployed, but in the process of hiring at Home Depot after I left GameStop.
NT: Game design sounds really cool. You stream yourself playing on Twitch, but I found you when you were showing TLOP, is this something you did on a whim?
KO: Yeah, it was a super whim. My plan today was just to play video games until TLOP dropped in celebration of the album came out. I’m a huge Kanye fan, so I was just hype for his album. All of a sudden I have like 20 people in my Twitch saying TiDAL wasn’t working so I booted it up and got it working and just decided to show it to people who couldn’t watch it for bandwidth issues. All of a sudden, someone posts my Twitch all over hip hop blogs and I got 4000+ viewers. I’m a low end streamer, what I call a bottom feeder. if I’m playing a popular game, no one will see my channel because I’m at the very bottom where you’d have to scroll a lot. So, to have 4000+ was pretty exciting, haha.
NT: Yeah man, it was random to say the least. What was your overall impression of the album?
KO: Overall hype moment for me, haha. Honestly, I didn’t expect that much. My expectations weren’t like “oh this gonna be flame.” but, I honestly think it’s one of his best projects. I’m actually excited to hear the CDQ. definitely sad at hm cutting No More Parties, though /:
NT: Yeah, as a fan, what do you think of his growth as an artist? I mean, going from polos and a backpack to trying to be the head designer for Hermes, do you prefer one over the other?
KO: I used to think that there was a difference being the Kanye before his mom passed and the savage Kanye after. But, I feel as if he’s always been the same deep down. And also, I feel like him having a family now and him marrying Kim is something that opened his eyes to how beautiful his life is. Which is why he came out with this beautiful album, TLOP. Yeezus wasn’t a bad album, but it honestly put me onto his older shit that I didn’t like originally like 808’s and MBDTF.
NT: Hmm. Speaking of his mom, as a game designer, what did you make of the Only One game?
KO: Definitely a shock to the entire world, I’m sure. But, with that, he has a purpose behind his game. He said it depicted his mother getting into Heaven. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for my details on this, and it’ll be a project for the books for Kanye, regardless if its bad or not.
NT: I mean, it’ll be cool to see. Why do you think developers were so averse to making it? He did describe it as them telling him to “Fuck Off”!
KO: It’s a rap artist wanting to make a video game. I don’t see how someone would take it serious as.. no rapper has really tried nor had success with video game development.
NT: 50 Cent’s Bulletproof, tho.
KO: Good point, I honestly forgot about that game. Don’t forget Mark Eckos Getting Up, not a rap artist, but a game derived from Hip Hop culture
NT: Very true. Thanks for taking a little time dude, do you think you’ll be streaming any more TIDAL events any time soon?
KO: haha, nah man. that shit is super illegal on Twitch. I’m lucky to get away with this one. And no problem, man!
interview by Graham Caldwell