One Thread Only: "One Song Only" Podcast Discussion


#102

Next episode’s set of songs:

next


#103

To quote Pusha T, ugh, I honestly thought Black Skinhead was going to make there! Then it was snatched from the jaws of victory by Austin’s last-minute flip. Stronger was a hit but Black Skinhead is a better composition.

Regarding the next matchups: Boy, if Street Lights didn’t go down easy I hate to see what we’ll get about Say You Will, which for me is maybe the strongest 808s track of them all (respect to Love Lockdown), but not exactly a party-starter or even head-nodder. Slow Jamz was knocked this ep, so I’m glad No More Parties looks like it’ll be representing Pablo in the second round since, yeah, they’ll pick Power. I’m probably in the 2% that wouldn’t.


#104

for the next episode, without going back at all, my picks would be Gold Digger, No more parties, Good Morning (love Say You Will though, and it might just be where I’m at right now, I’ve had that “Buy Any Jeans Necessary” line pop up in my head for the past 2 weeks for like, no good reason, and it’s not even necessarily a good line), Power (personally dunno why FSMH is even on here)


#105

I wonder if we’re going to get a special episode about the new album that dropped today


#106

I hope we do; I’d be interested in an extended discussion of what they think.

Listened to it twice now and…I really don’t like it. Not a song here that I’d replay, personally.


#107

I like it as an album I think. Reminds me of 808s a bit. Not sure there are many outstanding Singles though.

A lot of songs that I think I would kick out some of the current bracket songs for though. Some solid 8-10th seeds in this album.


#108

I’m gonna try it again tomorrow and see if it grows on me but man, my first impression isn’t great. The production is ok, but certainly not Kanye’s best work, but the lyrics and flows especially are super weak. Like in Yikes he has a whole verse where he rhymes CB/Me/TV and ends with Huh every time, and for the most part the subject matter isn’t that great? Like conceptually I’m down with him exploring his mental illness, like him talking about his Bipolar Disorder is interesting, but he doesn’t really execute on it lyrically. The best song from a technical rap perspective is violent crimes, but the concept of the whole song is taking the “that girl, that’s someone else’s daughter man” and making it a 3 minute song. The latter career Kid Cudi sound in “ghost town” might be for someone else but it’s certainly not for me (I liked the outro/last feature though)

It’s just like, overall every Kanye project there’s at least 2-3 songs that I want to go back to first listen, and overall seems like something I’d like, but I’m getting almost the opposite reaction here. I wouldn’t replay one song right now, and i certainly don’t want to sit through the album again. Even when that was the reaction to some of Kanye’s other albums (808s and Yeezus) I actually liked/liked elements of both. I’m just not getting that at all here.


#109

I’ll preface by saying there’s so many complicated feelings surrounding this album that it’s hard to parse, but man… ye is bad.

My initial take was that it wasn’t enough to redeem for all his bullshit, then after a few listens I was kind of into “Yikes” and “All Mine,” but I revisited again after telling a friend I liked those two and I went back and they’re not even that good.

Beyond the honestly unsettling first track those two are kind of building to a crescendo that’s immediately cast aside with “Wouldn’t Leave” and then the rest of the album is just kind of there.

I also feel like “Violent Crimes” is the weakest track, it sounds like a Cardi B song (no disrespect to her, but Kanye flows have generally been a cut above) and like the fact that Nicki Minaj was involved in writing it makes that weird. Also its placement makes the end of the album feel awkward and abrupt.

At the very least this doesn’t match up to the best of Kanye’s work and at worst…it’s just not good.

All of that’s not to mention the theme of the album seems to be “here are my excuses for being an asshole” (mental illness, being an overprotective father, and I guess just systemic misogyny?) which is a) Kind of the opposite of the asshole-Kanye persona I bought into and b) Just represents some of the behavior of some of the shittiest people, because he doesn’t really reflect on these things as much as he revels in them.


#110

Overall thoughts on Ye Songs - some good production, with some questionable lyrics though.

Individual songs:

I Thought About Killing You: Past the initial spoken word part the song is pretty solid

Yikes: One of the better songs. Seems to be making fun of Richard Simmons in the part about #metoo, Genius says Richard Simmons had been writing condescending posts about him so this might be in response. I can see how it can be read as sympathising with him though.

Wouldn’t Leave: I liked the music side of this one. I also liked the way this covered his relationship with his wife - how she supports him even though he causes stress by ignoring advice and messing up. The slavery comments got kind of pushed aside though, apart from an implication that it’s to do with his bipolar.

Ghost Town: a good song in a style that I don’t think I like. I’m sure this will be someone’s favourite though, it’s well made.

Violent Crimes: Another of the better songs. As mentioned, realising that things are bad for women only after having a daughter isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but I think it’s a well-crafted version of it.


#111

I was trying to parse that Richard Simmons line when I first read it, but in the context of coming after “Does anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby” I feel like it’s a stretch to assume he meant that as a takedown.

Also, just the use of the phrase “Me Too’d” is gross and as he makes it clear in the following line he clearly identifies with the toxic notion that sexual assault allegations are something that can randomly “happen” to someone and not a reflection actual of harmful and vile behavior.


#112

Yeah I couldn’t figure it what point he was trying to make either which is why I looked it up on Genius. Either way it’s probably a mixed bag at best, because of those lines afterward.


#113

yeah basically what happened to me. Listened to it again and was like, well some of these songs are alright, but going back and listening to them individually it’s more like, no, they’re not great, they’re just slightly better than the songs that surround them, so they seem good by comparison.


#114

For what it’s worth, I would definitely encourage folks to make a Kanye West or ye-specific thread to keep this thread for One Song Only discussion. Not gonna force it out, but let me know if you want to put that topgether and nudge this conversation into that thread with my mod powers.


#115

As someone who fell off the Kanye train really hard and really early (hated Graduation), this has been a really cool podcast to listen to and catch up on what I’ve been missing. Also, it took me searching “One song only Kanye West” on YouTube (to see if anyone had made any playlists for the podcast, good news someone did) to realize where the title comes from.


#116

Woo, a One Song thread! I was finally able to binge listen and catch up while working recently, culminating in the release of Ye (and the Drake/Pusha beef) and the latest episode, so pretty good timing. Unfortunately, all of this stuff has started weighing down on me in a way that is seriously making me re-evaluate, like… the bullshit I put up with from artists I love.

I would say that Kanye, Pusha, and Drake are all in my top 5 “big” hip hop artist rotation (to be crystal clear, this is a “my top 5” thing, not an actual Top Five rap opinion) so as you can imagine the last week or so–and longer for Kanye–has been, uh, interesting. Listening to the latest One Song, I found myself having a really hard time with a lot of the discussion surrounding all three artists. Not because anything anyone said was wrong or directly rubbed me the wrong way, but because I feel like I’ve been having a bit of a Matrix-ass seeing-the-code moment with all three artists at once. It sent me into a deep think.

I guess the first thing here is the Drake/Pusha beef. Until Duppy dropped, I was honestly sick to death of Drake disses–not because I think he’s untouchable, but because Infrared just hit the same old arguments that I think most people (certainly myself) just do not care about. I’ve never really cared how many people were in the room with Drake or Kanye when they made their hits because all that information has been available in the liner notes of their work anyway, so Daytona dedicating precious time out of its slim runtime to this just felt like a petty waste of a track. I was surprised Drake even responded, although I will say I did really enjoy Duppy Freestyle, mostly for lines like “you’re an approachable dude” but even then I was irritated by the Virginia Williams namedrop. That was the first “huh, okay” of this saga.

So like, there’s no denying Adidon is brutal and there is definitely a part of me that is glad someone could kneecap Drake–even just a little–because I prefer sad Drake to cartoon mobster Drake. However, I feel a little brain-busted surrounding some of the discussion around the track. Memes win rap feuds these days–Drake himself proved that with Meek–but the new popular framing of Pusha T as badass supervillain bothers me. And I love Pusha! But some of the stuff on Adidon just plain sucks, and excuses are being made because he made the cooler track. I cannot bring myself to agree with the porn star lines being in good faith. I cannot get with Pusha making fun of 40’s MS. Daytona for me is already a hard album for me to care about listening to all the way through because it’s 20 minutes long, which means that lines like “I will not let you Weinstein the kid” and Kanye’s trash MAGA hat verse take up a significant percentage of the project, which I already have to pretend doesn’t have a garbage album cover.

This is also my first “check myself” moment here too, because I had to think for a moment about like, “was I this bothered about the Virginia Williams line? Do I secretly just like Drake more and want to go to bat for him?” and the answer is, eh, maybe. Or maybe these are both bad, mean songs, just like Hotline Bling is, despite the fact that I kinda love it, is a bad, mean song. Even setting aside his deadbeat dad allegations, Drake features Baka, a convicted human trafficker, on multiple projects and supports him on his label. Pusha T’s MNIMN, one of my favorite albums ever, has a prominent Chris Brown feature (and so does Kanye’s TLOP) and he just today put out a track with Rich the Kid, who is facing domestic abuse charges. Trash, trash, all of this is trash. My favorite artists are garbage people.

And then there’s Ye, which, yo, has some really, REALLY bad stuff in it. I love the opening track and Ghost Town and nearly everything else is unlistenable. I cannot believe a beat as good as Yikes was wasted on Kanye’s actual worst raps ever. The Me Too lines are inexcusably awful. There’s a bog standard “I had a daughter and respect women now” song here, which isn’t only rote but throws like an actual decade of me carrying water for the idea that Kanye is often playing a character of sorts into question, because if this is how he writes on his most personal album ever there’s just no way any of his antics on previous albums can be so easily waved away as “needing the full context” or “character work” etc etc. I’ve operated with this read of Kanye for years. Years! And then he puts out a deeply personal album that literally has a “this one goes out to all the females out there” line! I am in shambles!

But I also can’t pretend I don’t still find a lot to love in all three artists’ catalogues? It’s weird. I’ve seen a lot of posts going around on Twitter recently declaring Kanye “canceled” or what have you, or casting judgment on people who would still dare to listen to his work. The problem is that’s easier said than done with artists you’ve stuck with for a long time. There are some exceptions–ask me about the Brand New discography I tossed out last year without thinking twice–but artists that have stuck with you for a long time, for better or worse, are impossible to completely cut loose from, and I think that’s completely okay as long as we don’t pretend the bullshit doesn’t exist. It’s probably at least a slight moral failing that I still regularly listen to and think about The Smiths given that Morrissey is, you know, the actual worst nowadays, but I’m happy to have that conversation about him and bear that hypocrisy.

On the flip side, I also agree with John Darnielle’s quote about how there are plenty of black metal bands out there that aren’t Burzum, so… it’s a process, I guess. I always like to say it’s easy to not support bad people, but is it really? I threw out the aforementioned Brand New albums but still have all my Swans albums. I haven’t listened to them for years, but I haven’t quite cut them either. I guess that shows you which one meant more to me before bad shit came to light. Drake, Pusha T, and Kanye aren’t embroiled in anything as bad as those artists, but I’m definitely thinking about my general Crud Threshold a lot at the moment.

Anyway this is a long, roundabout post to say thanks for One Song, which has more or less felt like listening to people arguing and discussing and giving voice to arguments I’ve been having in my head about Kanye (and other artists) for a long time now, but ESPECIALLY over the past couple of weeks. Funnily enough I walked away from the latest episode not really agreeing completely with anyone’s take on Duppy or Adidon or Ye, but that honestly made it all the more satisfying, because it felt like the conversations I’m having with myself constantly, and I was relieved to hear everyone’s varied thoughts. It comforts me knowing that judging art and artists is a constant process for everyone else, too.

tl;dr MBDTF = Yeezus > LR > WTT > TLOP > Grad > CD > Ye


#117

@xeecee did you maybe forget 808s in your ranking list because it is too good? :sunglasses:

But yeah I agree, this podcast has also been making me think more about the complicated feelings regarding exactly what we brush aside and what we get mad about when it comes to both the words and actions of musicians.

I think it was mentioned in the latest episode for example, that most of Kanye’s bad lyrics are nothing we didn’t know about him or that he hasn’t used in verses previously, but it’s hard to separate it the same way we were before because we’re in this particular political moment and Kanye’s in this particular personal stage. If we’d first heard his album a year from now or a year ago it would “feel” different even if they were the same songs.


#118

I jumped back on the podcast to hear what the crew thought about the Pusha-Drake saga and I was in agreement for the most part. I’m a Toronto boy out of the east end, so I’ve got a lot of love for Drake, but even I agree that he took the L hard on this one.

That being said, I found it a little hard to listen to Art talking about Drake being too soft for rap and using his Canadian-ness as a way to clown on him. Can I just say that I hate that toxic shit being spouted out by hip hop heads? It’s a weird policing of masculinity when hip hop has always had facets outside of flossing, crime, and stunting. Hip hop has always had a feminine, queer, and non-alpha male streak running through it. Drake is merely the inheritor of the likes of LL Cool J, and to call out his softness on a podcast about Kanye West, a man raised middle class by a college professor, just seems like Art is hating on the guy for being popular. And the disrespect for Canadian hip hop is just dumb. King of the Dot remains the premiere battle venue, guys like 40, Boi1da, and Murda Beatz have been driving modern hip hop, and there continues to be a steady drip of talented MCs coming out of here. Fuck outta here with that shit.


#119

I didn’t plan to bring it up because I know that what I intend as just poking fun at a running joke can just be taken as aggression instead when I don’t know him well enough to act familiar around him, but yeah I did notice the juxtaposition of Art being taken aback by the idea of being called a rap purist but then throughout the rest of the show complaining about Drake being too soft to be a rapper, then complaining about a spoken word section in a rap song, then talking about how Cudi had musical lines but not a “verse” lol


#120

Agreed totally about the softness thing. The LL Cool J comparison less so but also I don’t really listen to Drake much, so there’s probably more merit to that than I know. I’d like to hear more about it.

Regarding the latest episode I was a little disappointed they didn’t go into Pusha’s dissing 40 for having MS, which kinda hard to swallow and poisons the pure enthusiasm I’d otherwise have for “The Story of Adidon”. Feels like a stark contrast to so much of the other material which is more brutal but less skeevy.

And now that I’m all caught up my only real strong complaint with the bracket episodes (without getting into spoilers) is that when talking about “Runaway” no one mentioned my most hated Kanye line, the most cringe-worthy, terribly placed borderline song-ruining lyric: I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most. UGH. It’s such an awkward thought, it has a clumsy meter, it’s unnecessarily unclear, it’s sung slow enough that you have to be suspended in that trash lyric forever, and it pops up three times right before the best part of the song, as if to sabotage your anticipation. The worst Adam Sandler reference he ever wrote was at least never part of the pre-chorus of one of his greatest songs. Though that really emphatic “Austin-POWERS” part of “Power” comes close, I guess. But that’s followed by “they say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation” which is also real bad.

Also I was excited to hear the hosts clown on “Stronger”, but apparently they like it? That was the song I heard that made me no longer a fan*. It just felt like the laziest possible mash-up beat you’d find on YouTube even back then in 2007. And I can get behind a super obvious lazy sample if it’s delicious enough, but I just don’t like that music as a beat for someone to rap over. It felt like the worst of all worlds as far as pop crossover attempts go, and that was before it was in every third commercial. At least Art addressed how interminable it feels. It’s probably not the worst Kanye West song (I’ve avoided Pablo and Ye) but it’s definitely the one I resent the most.

*Yeah, I am that fickle. This podcast is definitely a strong case for sticking with an artist and appreciating the flavors their arc and history can imbue even bad later material, but I can never do that. I think it might partially be my ADHD but anytime I sit down with music I’m not all the way into I can only think of all the music I love I could be listening to instead.


#121

There isn’t so much to note, just Drake and LL both rapped about tenderness and romance and both caught heat for being “soft”. I’m not saying that Drake is LL’s equal, just that he clearly follows that same legacy, one that is now highly revered in hip hop history.