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5 Takeaways from Kanye West and Kid Cudi's New Album, Kids See Ghosts

Posted by On June 09, 2018

5 Takeaways from Kanye West and Kid Cudi's New Album, Kids See Ghosts

Just a week after Kanye unveiled ye around a bonfire in Wyoming, he released another new album, this time with longtime collaborator Kid Cudi. The duo premiered Kids See Ghosts during a listening party at a “ghost town” hours outside of Los Angeles. The event, like the album’s digital rollout, was chaotic to say the least.

Shuttle busses bringing journalists to the secret location got stuck in hours of traffic, before media personnel were dropped off at a cold gravel lot. Meanwhile, celebrities and Kanye super fans gathered around a bonfire to actually witness the festivities. Those watching the event’s live stream on the WAV app had a better vantage point than those actually covering it, assuming viewers were able to stay awake that long. Kids See Ghosts didn’t start playing until nearly 1:45 a.m. EST.

Around 10:20 a.m. EST this mornin g, the project arrived on Google Play, then Tidal, Apple Music, and finally Spotify. At this point it became clear that, though the album was in the same order as last night, the songs titles were jumbled. The following analysis is based not on what the streaming services are currently claiming, but rather, our own 11 hours of listening; apparently our logic is the same as Genius’, for what it’s worth. UPDATE (1:45 p.m. EST): West’s rep has confirmed a corrected tracklisting, it is reflected in what follows and will soon take effect on streaming services.

Complete with samples of Kurt Cobain and Marcus Garvey, ghoulish noises, and passionate testaments to faith, Kids See Ghosts marks a new chapter for both rappers. Here’s what you need to know going in.

Cudi Comes Full Circle

Back in 2016, Kid Cudi bravely shared a public statement on Facebook, admitting that he had checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. Towards the end of the note, he wrote: “I’ll be back, stronger, better. Reborn.” On Kids See Ghosts, Cudi shows the world that he’s made good on his promise. “I’m so, I’m so reborn/I’m movin’ forward,” he sings in the hook on “Reborn.” Later in the uplifting track, he asserts that his inner turmoil is a thing of the past. “I had my issues, ain’t that much I could do/But peace is something that starts with me,” he says.

The Power of Christ Compels Them

For Cudi, it seems like overcoming anxiety and depression goes hand in hand with a newfound commitment to spirituality. “It’s so many days I prayed to God/All this pain I couldn’t seem to find a way,” he raps on “Fire,” co-produced by André 3000. Though this subject matter is new for Cudi songs, it’s well-trodden territory for Kanye, whoâ€"from “Jesus Walks” to “Ultralight Beam”â€"has explored the topic of Christianity throughout his discography. Despite thi s, Cudi comes across way more earnest about his faith than Kanye does. As Ye raps on the album’s title track, “Got a Bible by my bed, yes I’m very Christian/Constantly repenting ‘cause yes I never listen,” he sounds like a sour cynic compared to Cudi’s grateful spirit.

The album’s electro-gospel finale, ostensibly titled “Cudi Montage,” finally shows Kanye “I Am a God” West in a humbling light. He joins Cudi and a singer who sounds like his longtime collaborator Mr. Hudson for a round of call and response that gradually swells with sincerity and intensity. “Lord shine your light on me, save me please,” Kanye sings, sounding almost like a little boy. Mr. Hudson’s sharp voice calls back with a reverberating “stay strong!” as the track ascends to a higher place.

Connections to ye

In early tracklistings for his current slate of projects, Kanye revealed that his ye song “Ghost Town,” with Cudi and 070 Shake, was first set to appear on Kids See Ghosts. Because of such shuffling between albums, it’s no surprise that the projects contain some similarities and overlap. On “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” Kanye raps about the challenges of being perceived by the public as unstable: “I was off the meds/I was called insane/What a awesome thing/Engulfed in shame.” His sarcastic remark echoes the same tone he struck with ye’s cover art, which reads, “I hate being Bi-Polar it’s awesome.” While ye was a dark album made by a broken man, Kids See Ghosts seems to feature at least one moment of genuine catharsis for Kanye. On “Freeee,” Cudi and Kanye take turns singing the hook with unfettered glee: “Nothing hurts me anymore, guess what babe?/I feel freeeeee.” Though the lyrics are nearly the same on both parts of “Ghost Town,” the Kids See Ghosts track captures a subtle but crucial shift. Where 070 Shake memorably crooned about feel ing “kinda free,” the duo sounds 100 percent certain, making “Freeee” a more exciting listen.

In general, the continuity between the two albums seems to revolve around ye’s “Ghost Town.” On Kids See Ghosts’ “4th Dimension,” Kanye returns to Shirley Ann Lee’s “Someday,” the ’60s gospel sample that opens “Ghost Town.” He pulls from an entirely different section of the song here, extracting the spoken-word section in which Lee advises another person about song structure. “Just do that, and then let the music do something and then do that again…” Lee says, as “4th Dimension” closes. The passage functions similarly to the outro in ye’s “Violent Crimes,” in which Nicki Minaj leaves Kanye a voicemail with a few crucial bars for the song about protecting North West. In both cases, Kanye presents a woman’s voice as a guiding force within his music.

Samples: From Kurt Cobain to Marcus Garvey

Li ke other Kanye-produced albums, Kids See Ghosts features an interesting and eclectic collection of source material. For “Cudi Montage,” Kanye loops a twangy acoustic guitar from Kurt Cobain’s “Burn the Rain,” from the companion album for the 2015 documentary Montage of Heck. The choice to sample Cobain for an album about overcoming depression seems pointed. It’s also an especially fitting pairing for Kid Cudi, whoâ€"from the Band of Horses sample on his debut mixtape to his nod at a Smashing Pumpkins classic earlier this yearâ€"has embraced his inner angsty rock star since long before such influences were de rigueur in rap.

A more surprising sample on Kids See Ghosts comes courtesy of Louis Prima’s early jazz recording of “What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’),” from 1936. On “4th Dimension,” Kanye somehow manages to turn that festive holiday tune about literal sleighs into a haunting loop of c hanting voices. Another unexpected sample is the Marcus Garvey interview snippet that introduces “Freeee,” in which the Black Nationalist leader can be heard saying, “When man becomes possessor of the knowledge of himself, he becomes the master of his environment.” But Kanye’s sampling here seems intentionally selective, as he skirts around the main points in Garvey’s original monologue. By leaving out the part where Garvey calls for a fight against the systematic oppression that has left the black man historically “discarded, ostracized, relegated to the lowest in things social, political, and economical,” Kanye makes it seem like the quote is about merely thinking your way into becoming a “master” instead of a slave. Keep in mind: We’re now two new Kanye albums deep and we still don’t have a proper explanation for his recent comments about slavery being a choice.

Vocal Experimentation

Despite the fact that Kids See Ghosts encompasse s some pretty heavy topics, Kanye and Kid Cudi actually sound like they’re having fun. What lightens the album’s subject matter and at times dark sound is Kanye’s experimentation with his voice. He goes back to his tried and true method of voice as instrument and ends up revealing a playfulness that wasn’t apparent on ye at all. On the opening track “Feel the Love,” Kanye goes full berserk, singing incoherent syllables like brahhhhh kah kah grrrrah ka ka ka. He sounds as though he’s doing Desiigner ad-libs in the same brazen, post-verbal fashion as Big Shaq on “Man’s Not Hot.”

Elsewhere, there are voices that contribute to the overall spooky, ghost-town vibe of the record. In “4th Dimension,” there’s a menacing cackle that sounds like a witch invading and terrorizing the track. And on “Freeee,” where Kanye and Cudi stretch out the word “free” into a moan, they sound like they’re doing their best impressions of pha ntasms from a children’s cartoon. When they’re echoed by an angelic-sounding male gospel choir (led by Ty Dolla $ign), the whole Kids See Ghost concept comes into light: Kanye and Cudi are negating the dark ghosts that haunt them with holy ones.

Additional reporting by Rebecca Haithcoat in Los Angeles.

Source: Google News US Entertainment | Netizen 24 United States

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