#RealLife is a monthly feature where Consequence of Sound staffers join forces with a diverse cadre of writers to share personal stories inspired by one legendary album. This month we tackle Kanye West’s acclaimed 2013 record, Yeezus, sharing stories for every song on the album. Some of the stories may be inexorably linked to the album itself, and others may just share its themes, tone, and atmosphere. Regardless, they’re all real.
My official stance on Kanye West is that I have no stance on Kanye West. My unofficial stance on Kanye West is that I think he’s charismatic, and “Flashing Lights” is an awesome song. Oh, and I’ve never listened to Yeezus.
I know. But look, I have a problem. I get overwhelmed. It’s a thing. I’m on meds. But I get overwhelmed and I run. It’s like that for me in life, and, oddly enough, it’s like that for me in music.
When 60% of my Facebook feed is talking about the same thing, I don’t click the link or leave a bitchy comment. I run. When it seemed, upon its release one year ago, that Kanye West’s Yeezus was either the GREATEST ALBUM EVER MADE or the most overhyped, I ran. I didn’t see Kanye on Letterman, nor did I follow his “beef” with Jimmy Kimmel. I didn’t watch a single interview. I didn’t see that “Bound 2” video, nor did I watch that parody Seth Rogen and James Franco made. The only sounds I heard off that album were the ones in the Wolf of Wall Street trailer. And all I saw were all the think pieces and links and ALL CAPS Facebook posts.
So, I ran.
Now, let me clarify: it’s not because I don’t like Kanye West. I like Kanye West. Not only do I like him, but there was a time in my life when he was important to me. Hell, back when I was a born-again Christian, I wrote a whole essay on “Jesus Walks”. And I acknowledge that my compulsion to run from ubiquitous art is, well, not the best thing for someone who writes about music professionally. (I’m still not sure who this Iggy Azalea character is. Sorry ’bout it.) Oh, and let’s compound this with the fact that Kanye West was Consequence of Sound‘s 2013 Artist of the Year and Yeezus its 2013 Album of the Year. (Mine was Eluvium’s Nightmare Ending lol).
Consider this my penance.
I chose Yeezus as this month’s #RealLife for a number of reasons, but none so important as my desire to see the stories behind all those ALL CAPS Facebook posts. What does an album like this–a year old, a constant conversation piece, a source of devotion and frustration–stir up in people? Click ahead to find out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s about time I listen to Yeezus.
By Mike Madden
The west side of Hidden Beach is the more conservative side. On this breezy and mostly sunny afternoon, there are even a couple little kids there, splashing water and tossing a Nerf football with (presumably) Dad.
The east side, meanwhile, smelling equally of barbecue and weed, is strewn with empty beer cans and Backwoods packs, plus the usual beach debris. I am at Hidden Beach for the first time, and I am on the east side.
All around me, necks start to swivel. This is a natural collective reaction, like when everyone in sight raises their arms, palms up, upon those first couple drops of scalp-bound rain.
By the time I get the memo, W.B. is already munching on sand. B.G., whose black arm tattoos are barely visible above his skin, is stomping his right foot squarely into W.B.’s pasty back. Phones are hastily unpocketed, cameras activated, and the chants begin.
Another minute or two of viciousness ensues before B.G., deciding all this commotion isn’t worth it, steps away from W.B. for good. Or at least for today. He’s still fuming and he has removed his Derrick Rose Bulls jersey, I guess for emphasis.
In comes this white girl with a Kardashianesque posterior, hoping to calm B.G. down. I cannot hear her, but I can tell he is not having any of this.
B.G.’s eyes move away from Ms. New Booty and back to W.B., who has returned to his feet 30 feet shoreward. B.G. barks, “I’ll be right back here to beat your ass again tomorrow!”
He starts to vacate the premises, skipping to his left, his eyes on W.B. all the while. I do not return to the beach the next day to witness another episode of B.G.’s rage. It is not like I, or anyone else, would’ve truly subdued him anyway.
By Jimmy McDermott
A grad school friend texted me condolences when my sister died last year. I was grateful and touched that he hunted me down. We hadn’t talked in nearly 10 years. Months later, I saw the first movie trailer that genuinely excited me in the decade since I had spoken with my old chum. The thing just surged. It had adrenaline. Dopamine. Breathlessness. Vitality. Danger. My friend. Shock. Elation. Enthusiasm. Investment. Reflection. Regret. Jealousy. Anger. Despondence. I finally streamed the movie a couple months ago. We don’t get out much. It was a masterpiece. As good as Goodfellas. Not enough people recognized that. I texted my friend to tell him how terrific he was. He is. And to congratulate him on the birth of his child. Which had happened in the interim. We exchanged Instagrams of our daughters. And I mentioned that I was adjuncting in the $70M brand-new building at our alma mater. He said he had a bathroom named for him there from a donation he’d made. That night, at rehearsal, I realized I had been pissing in it for a week. I texted him a picture of the plaque. He was at a Clippers game.