June 2018 saw the release of three Kanye projects: Ye, Daytona and KIDS SEE GHOSTS.
The self-titled album KIDS SEE GHOSTS is not the first time Kanye West and Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi have collaborated, with their most notable efforts exhibited in 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak, which Cudi assisted with and co-wrote. Ten years on, have they created genius once again? Not quite, it seems.
Despite being revered as two rappers who helped pave the way for hip-hop and rap artists to speak openly about their vulnerabilities and mental health in their art – it has been suggested this is a broken ode to that original message.
The album’s seven songs repeatedly test the line between raw and unfinished sound
The album KIDS SEE GHOSTS contains seven songs which repeatedly test the line between raw and unfinished sound. At times, for example in ‘Cudi Montage’, the last track of the album, we can perhaps perceive a purposeful mess of sound; an exploration of artistic license with a deeper message of “stay[ing] strong” and a declaration of the freedom of living with mental health issues. But at other points, specifically in the first track of the album, ‘Feel the Love’ featuring Pusha T, the sound is deafening, almost distasteful, and it’s hard to decipher what kind of message the album’s creators desire to portray.
Prior to hearing this album, I was aware of Kanye’s talent and of his ability to create genius. Yet even then it has taken me quite a while to fully gauge what my opinion of the album was. I enjoyed the features on the album – 070 Shake’s vocals in particular were brilliant – but found myself trapped between three differing viewpoints.
The album is a declaration of mental and physical freedom, if nothing else
Are the deafening silences, missing props and late beats purposefully artistic, do they represent freedom of expression and an exploration of skill or, finally, is this project simply a distasteful and unpleasant attempt at psychedelic rap-rock?
Perhaps we don’t have to decide whether we like the album or not. Maybe we don’t have to understand it. The album is a declaration of mental and physical freedom, if nothing else. We can realise this message through the broken sound and, particularly, “guess what baby I feel free” in ‘Freeee ghost town pt.2’ which recycles moments from Ye’s track ‘Ghost Town’. The brittle staccato in ‘Reborn’ is purposeful – these beats are are loud and proud and most importantly do not care for who likes or dislikes them. Cudi and Kanye in KIDS SEE GHOSTS are unapologetically themselves and that is the message we are left with.