True to his word, Kanye West unveiled his new album, ‘Ye’, on Friday, at a listening party for journalists and his peers in the rap world in Wyoming, where he hid away to work on the project.
‘Ye’ comes at the end of an extremely busy few months for Kanye, during which he has made headlines for his outbursts in support of US President Donald Trump, attempts to make peace with the doctor who performed his late mother’s cosmetic surgery and shocking comments about slavery during an erratic interview with TMZ.
Kanye being Kanye, he’s addressed all of this and more on his new release. Here are 13 of the most shocking, controversial and revelatory lines from ‘Ye’...
1. ‘Today I Thought About Killing You’
The album opens on an unsettling note, with a spoken word introduction on ‘I Thought About Killing You’ seeing Ye telling an unknown person: “Today I seriously thought about killing you. I contemplated, premeditated murder.”
He continues: “I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you.”
Kanye repeats these thoughts, both about “thinking about killing you” and “loving myself way more than I love you” over and over again, before the rap comes in.
2. “Even when I went broke, I ain’t break”
Kanye has spoken multiple times in the past about having endured financial difficulties, insisting the experience didn’t “break” him.
3. “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too, Imma pray for him cos he got #MeToo’d”
Music mogul Russell Simmons has repeatedly voiced support for Kanye, particularly during his more turbulent moments. Here, the rapper refers to the recent sexual harassment allegations made against the Def Jam co-founder, in the wake of the #MeToo movement. (Simmons has repeatedly denied the accusations.)
4. “I think Prince and Mike was tryna warn me”
Legendary artists Prince and Michael Jackson - both of whom Kanye has named as inspirations of his - both died of overdoses. Kanye recently spoke of his own issues with addiction, revealing he became hooked on opioids after privately undergoing liposuction.
5. “That’s my bipolar shit, n***a… that’s my superpower, n***a ain’t no disability. I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!”
While Kanye has spoken in the past about struggles with his mental health, this reference to bipolar disorder is the most explicit he has ever been. In the spoken word outro of ‘Yikes’, he says he refuses to be limited by what he refers to as his “bipolar shit”, instead seeing it as a strength.
The album artwork also features the message: “I hate being bipolar.., it’s awesome.”
6. ”All these thots on Christian mingle, almost what got Tristan single”
In a lyric we’re sure no one in the Kardashian household will be particularly happy with, Kanye alludes to the allegations that Tristan Thompson had been unfaithful to Khloe Kardashian with multiple women, while she was pregnant.
7. “I said slavery’s a choice, they said, ‘How Ye’... imagine just if they caught me on a wild day”
On his first verse in ‘Wouldn’t Leave’, Kanye references some of his past controversies, including having stated to TMZ that slavery “felt like a choice” to him. Rather than explaining himself any further, in this song he suggests that these opinions are just the tip of the iceberg...”
8. “Told me she could leave me now but she wouldn’t leave”
Immediately after the line about his TMZ interview, Kanye describes wife Kim Kardashian’s reaction, saying he had her on the phone “screamin’, ’we bout to lose everything”.
He adds: “Had to calm her down ’cause she couldn’t breathe. Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave.”
At the end of the song, Kanye notes: “This what they mean when they say ‘for better or for worse’, huh?
“For every damn female that stuck with they dude, through the best times, through the worst times, this [song is] for you.”
9. “I ain’t finna talk about it, ’nother four centuries”
Another allusion to the infamous TMZ interview which saw him declare: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. You was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally in prison.
“I like the word ‘prison’ because ‘slavery’ goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Slavery is to blacks as the Holocaust is to Jews.
“Prison is something that unites as one race, blacks and whites, that we’re the human race.”
10. “Baby don’t you bet it all on a pack of Fentanyl”
Once again, Kanye refers back to the addiction issues he spoke about earlier this year, which led to his hospitalisation in 2016.
11. “N***as is savage, n***as is monsters, n***as is pimps, n***as is players, til n***as have daughters”
On ‘Violent Crimes’, the closing track of the album, Kanye reflects on his attitude towards women before and after he became a father to daughter North West, noting: “I’m scared of the karma… because now I see women as somethin’ to nurture.”
12. “I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s”
The song holds professional women like Nicki Minaj up as role models to his young daughter (“Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates, just play piano and stick to karate”), but this line would suggest he’s less keen for North to look up to her mother, at least in how she dresses.
13.“I’m sayin’ it like… I want a daughter like Nicki. Aww man, I promise, I’ma turn her to a monster, but no ménagés… I don’t know you’re saying it, but let ’em hear this”
The song ends with a sample of a voicemail message from Nicki Minaj, presumably giving Kanye the go-ahead to include a lyric about her on ‘Cry Tonight’ (avoiding another Taylor Swift situation, you might say…).
‘Ye’ is available now to download and stream.