When Yandhi was first announced back in September of last year, Kanye’s fanbase was ripe with anticipation for the sequel to his 2013 album Yeezus. Yandhi would be West’s ninth studio album following last summer’s Ye and Kids See Ghosts. As the weeks turned into months and months turned into a year, fans were wondering where was Yandhi? That was until August of this year when someone leaked a bunch of Kanye tracks and claimed that they were from his highly anticipated album Yandhi. The collection of nine songs was definitely filled with works in progress. Only about three songs sounded like a finished product. Many of the songs featured verses that were mostly just mumbled fillers put in place to capture the flow that he would rap with. However, the production on the album is top-notch, with instrumentals that don’t sound like they are cashing in on a trend but instead seem destined to create one. The atmospheric and, in some places, gospel-inspired beats are definitely a change of pace for Kanye but still incorporate the loud stadium shaking production from past albums like Graduation. The first track, “New Body,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj, is a strong start to the album because it is the most complete song on the project. The RonnyJ production incorporates killer flutes and a punchy bassline that immediately sounds unique. Ty Dolla $ign sings a contagious hook that has been stuck in my head since hearing it for the first time. Kanye’s verse sounds like a series of quick jabs until he switches flows to a cascade of rhymes that descend delightfully upon the ear. Nicki Minaj’s verse is ripe with confidence and energy that was only shown briefly on her past project Queen. While that album felt like she was trying to gain back relevancy, this verse sounded like she never left the spotlight to
begin with. Ty’s verse in comparison feels very laid back and chill. His singsong flow and the way he raises his voice at the end of each bar is positively divine. On “Alien,” the thick bass and the return of the flutes from “New Body” combine to create an ominous yet spacey track. This track features some of the most outlandish statements Kanye’s made. Lyrics such as, “I don’t believe in time, I just believe in signs,” are hilariously in tune with Kanye’s character. Toward the second half of the track, the tempo slows down and the beat becomes more sparse. The track ends with the punchy bass over ominous synths and an empty trap drum. It creates an almost hostile yet barren feeling that works in tandem with the ominous production. The song itself paints the picture of an alien invasion that leaves nothing behind. The last three tracks on the album are all very gospel based. “We’ll Find a Way” featuring Ant Clemons doesn’t contain any verses from Kanye yet still shines as a beacon of positivity with more gospel vocals. The opening piano gave me chills down my spine when I first heard it.
This happy go lucky track is just fun to listen to and is my favorite on the album. The ramp up from the slow piano to groovy bongos definitely is a tone switch I am a fan of. Once the song reaches its peak, it is pure good vibes for a solid 15 seconds. The song then slowly descends from the Carribean-flavored bongos back to the moody piano. The vocals then switch to just the choir clapping and vibing to the piano. This song would have been the perfect outro to the album if it were actually the final song. Yandhi takes many dips into why-is-this-even-a-song territory. “Slave Name,” “Law of Attraction,” “Bye Bye Baby” all shouldn’t be on the album. “Slave Name” is the final track of the album and consists of guitar riffs over a trap beat for 30 seconds, ruining what “We’ll Find A Way” did in terms of ending the album. The other two songs don’t add anything to the album and instead detract from the gospel-inspired and atmospheric themes of the album. However, it’s the standout tracks, “New Body,” “Alien,” “80 Degrees” and “We’ll Find a Way” that add something special and make Yandhi worth a listen. These redeeming tracks are brilliant and unique, and are prime examples of what stellar music Kanye can make.
By Sebastian Augiler | Guest Writer