Four Years Ago, Kanye West Begat ‘Yeezus’

Today marks four years since Kanye West dropped his seventh studio album, Yeezus. It was one of Ye’s most significant releases, as he shifted creative directions to embrace electronic minimalism, abrasive distortion and heavy bass. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, sold 327,000 copies in its first week and has been certified platinum.

As with many innovative albums, public reaction to Yeezus was mixed. Its stripped down sonics alienated some listeners who had just been celebrating West’s lush, sample-heavy masterpieces My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne with Jay Z. Yeezus found West throwing out what he had done before and building everything back up.

First single “Black Skinhead” premiered on the season finale of Saturday Night Live and reached No. 69 and the Billboard Hot 100. Second single “Bound 2” was more similar to the sound tat listeners expected of West. It reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The music video for “Bound 2,” featuring West’s wife Kim Kardashian topless on a motorcycle, has over 62 million views on YouTube, and it was parodied by Seth Rogen and James Franco.
Yeezus remains one of Kanye’s most challenging albums, but proved he’s still as innovative as ever.
Recording for Yeezus began in a loft in a Paris Hotel, listed on the album’s credits as the “No Name Hotel.” Other producers who contributed to the album include Daft Punk, Travis Scott, Hudson Mohawke, Arca and No I.D.

Later on, West would enlist the infamous Rick Rubin as an executive producer and relocate to Rubin’s Shangri-La studio in Malibu for several days to finish the project. Rubin reportedly suggested reducing elements from the songs, as well as cutting the tracklist down from 16 to 10 songs.

Yeezus remains one of Kanye’s most challenging albums, from the brutal beginning of “On Sight,” through the ego trip of “I Am a God,” all the way to the soulful conclusion of “Bound 2. Even as he approached his forties, Ye proved that he was still as innovative as ever.

Watch our Daily Operation video up top, and stream the album in its entirely below.

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