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Delving deep into the fabric of: Yeezus

RnB/Hip Hop | Tuesday 18th June 2013 | Conor

Yesterday (June 17th) Kanye West dropped his sixth solo studio album Yeezus. It has been described as his most abrasive album to date, not easily fitting into one distinguishable genre. Although critits have mainly agreed in giving it a high rating, public acceptance has been rather more varied with some die hard Kanye fans taking to twitter to express their dismay.

Here, we look deeper into Yeezus and tell you a little about the tracks sampled in its midst, the songs that make up the fabric of of Kanye’s latest offering. Love him or hate him, it cannot be denied that Kanye’s choice of samples sets him apart from most of his contemporaries, and with Yeezus he brings us his most varied release yet, with tracks from the acid house genre, as well as Hungarian progressive rock, classic soul and a choral choir.

On Sight

Formed in 1985, Phuture (now known as Phuture 303) are an acid house group out of Chicago. Acid Tracks is a 12 minute effort that lays claim to being one of the very first acid house records, and it is this track that Kanye samples in Yeezus opener On Sight. The track was recorded in 1985 but remained unreleased until 1987 due to shortages in funding. The track was eventually released in 1987, and has become somewhat iconic to those with a penchant for the acid house genre. The choral sample used comes courtesy of Holy Name of Mary Choral Family’s He’ll Give us what we Really Need and can be heard at 1:09.

Black Skinhead

In keeping with his philosophy of not giving a fuck, Kanye chose to sample the drumming from Gary Glitter’s 1972 track Rock and Roll to give Black Skinhead that tribal feel that recurs throughout Yeezus. The original track was received with fervour in the UK, reaching number 1 in the charts, and was used extensively across the pond in the NFL, until it was pulled following charges of child abuse against the glam rock star.

I am a God

Forward Inna dem Clothes from Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist Capleton is the song chosen to sample in Kanye’s most self-important track to date, I am a God. As well as Kanye, Capleton has at times come under criticism over his lyrics. Whereas some are berating Kanye for his apparent misogynist lyricism within Yeezus, Capleton has been condemned for his use of lyrics which could be seen as homophobic. As well as Forward Inna dem Clothes, I am a God also samples Zindagi Hai Khel, a song composed by R.D Burman for the 1972 Bollywood film Seeta Aur Geeta.

New Slaves

Gyöngyhajú lány is a hugely (apparently) popular song Hungarian progressive rock band Omega, arguably the most successful artist in Hungarian history. It was recorded in 1969 and released on the album 10 000 lépés. The song was recorded and released in multiple languages, including English and German. It is this song that is sampled in the outro of New Slaves.

I’m in it

Kenny Lattimore found his place in the spotlight as the lead singer of short-lived R&B group Maniquin. After this he enjoyed relative success as a solo artist, and Lately is taken from his third solo album, Weekend. A sample of R U Ready by TNGHT is also used.

 

Blood on the Leaves

Strange Fruit is a song which brings to light the poor treatment of African Americans, most famously sung by Billie Holiday. The version used in Kanye’s Blood on the Leaves is the version by Nina Simone. The Holiday version was included in the Recording Industry of America’s songs of the century list. Kanye is no stranger to sampling Nina on his tracks, having used her work on Bad News from his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak and A New Day from his Jay Z collab album Watch the Throne.

Guilt Trip

Kanye has on multiple occasions worked with New York rapper Pusha T, producing songs such as Numbers on the Board and Who I am, and it is Pusha T’s song Blocka (more specifically the Ackeejuice Rockers remix of the 2012 released track) that Kanye samples on Guilt Trip.

Send it up

 

Beenie Man’s Memories, released in 1996 is sampled in Send it up. Memories itself is an interpolation of Jerry Butler’s Memories Don’t Leave (Like People do). Similarly to the aforementioned Capleton, Beenie Man has come under fire from gay rights activists for his homophobic lyrics, which has led to a multitude of cancelled shows.

 

Bound 2

Yeezus closer Bound 2 features three samples. The first comes from soul vocal group Ponderosa Twins Plus One’s track Bound. This song has also been sampled by Large Professor on his track Bowne. The original track was released in 1971. Affectionately nicknamed Little Miss Dynamite, Brenda Lee was one of the first stars to have an international contemporary following owing to tracks such as Dynamite and Sweet Nothings, the latter of the two featuring on Bound 2. You can listen to it here. The third track to be sampled is Wee’s Aeroplane which was released in 1977.

By Conor Giles

@_ConorGiles

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