Music

Kids See Ghosts Will Be Remembered As the Climax and Most Enduring Record of Ye Season

Photo: Video still via YouTube

Ye Season continues with what will be remembered as the most uplifting, cohesive, spiritual, and sonically excellent episode of Kanye West's serialized works.

Kids See Ghosts
Kids See Ghosts

GOOD Music / Def Jam

8 June 2018

Ye Season 2018 reached its halfway point with Kids See Ghosts, the long-awaited collaborative work between Kanye West and Kid Cudi. It's been a journey. The preseason was loud, contentious, and full of dialogue on political issues. The opening remarks, however, served to silence the hate and the politics as the music took over on Pusha T's DAYTONA and West's ye. After a short-lived beef with Drake and mixed opinions on West's follow up to The Life of Pablo, the saga continues with what will be remembered as the most uplifting, cohesive, spiritual, and sonically excellent episode of Kanye West's serialized works.

The spiritual has always been a point of interest for West. Gospel music has been a key ingredient to his iconic production as he's sampled and interpolated the genre in everything from " I'll Fly Away" off The College Dropout to "Ultralight Beam" off The Life of Pablo. But it's not just the sound of the spiritual that has affected West's deepest and most heartfelt works. The need for God and the temptation of the devil play pivotal roles throughout his entire discography from "Jesus Walks" to much of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and much more. Kids See Ghosts continues West's tradition of tapping into the supernatural and takes it to its most redemptive and jubilant state ever heard in his discography. However, where the legend Ray Charles controversially took sacred music and secularized it, West has perfectly taken the secular and consecrated it.

Nowhere to be found here are the gospel samples, chipmunk vocals, or triumphant sounds heard on the likes of "All of the Lights". Instead, the tracks are brooding, somber, psychedelic, and often capitalize on minor chord usage. And it's not just the juxtaposition of sound and message that makes this record interesting. It's the ability to over and over drop the unexpected and the experimental, like Kanye's manic snare beat scatting on "Feel the Love" or the use of Louis Prima's 1936 Christmas song "What Will Santa Claus Say" on "4th Dimension". But somehow it all combines with hooks that declare, "I can still feel the love", "I feel free", and "I'm so, I'm so reborn / I'm moving forward." West and Cudi (along with other collaborators like Ty Dolla $ign, Pusha T, and Anthony Hamilton) lift each other up and point each other towards a mental, spiritual, and musical state of goodness and excellence unachievable individually.

What makes the overall uplifting tone truly pay off is knowing the stakes and the situations the artists see in their own lives and the world around them. West laments the heartbreak and violence which begets more violence on "Cudi Montage" over an acoustic guitar loop by Kurt Cobain: "Everybody want world piece / 'Til your niece get shot in the dome-piece / Then you go and buy your own piece / Hopin' it'll help you find your own piece…Just another cycle of the lonely / All growin' up in environment / Where doin' crime the requirement / They send us off to prison for retirement."

It's been a long few years, full of more hopelessness in the news every day. But Kids See Ghosts seeks to change the narrative. It offers hope; it offers an escape from the stress and anxiety imposed on society daily. Whether you agree or not with West and Cudi's spiritual, loosely Christian, reliance on God to keep moving forward, seeking peace and salvation, the gospel message portrayed here is penetrating, much more penetrating than the majority of traditional gospel albums put out today. I think it is safe at this point to say that Kids See Ghosts will be remembered as the climax and most enduring record of Ye Season, one that keeps giving with each and every replay.

9

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.