After a lead-up that involved multiple hours of inviting fans to watch a webcam pointing at a campfire burning somewhere in the middle of Wyoming, Kanye West debuted his eighth studio album tonight. According to West’s friend Chris Rock, who was on hand to introduce the album, it’s titled YE, and, as ever with West, it’s a mixture of the sexual, the political (“Russell Simmons want to pray for me too; I pray for him, because he got #MeToo’d”), the scatological, and most of all the personal, riffing on romantic relationships, identity, and more.
Surrounded by music journalists and friends—including Pusha T, Kid Cudi, 2 Chainz, and more—West nodded and bounced along with his own music, in his element, even as the songs referenced everything from Stormy Daniels to his own “shaky-ass year.” The gospel influences that predominated West’s last major release, The Life Of Pablo, are still in strong supply, but they’ve now been supplemented with some old-school R&B vibes. Meanwhile, the more divisive elements of West’s recent online push—i.e., the Trump and “Make America Great Again” shit—were in short supply (although he did reference that “slavery was a choice” line in a song about his relationship with his wife), with West bringing the classic battle between his own braggadocio and self-loathing back into central focus, including an opening monologue that touched on thoughts of suicide, self-love, and murder. (He even included a loving ode to his daughter, albeit one where the primary theme was “I know men are going to want to fuck her, so I hope she’ll be okay.”)
West ultimately played half a dozen or so songs from the album before beginning to repeat tracks for the listening crowd. YE is reportedly scheduled for a full release tomorrow. Meanwhile, the WAV broadcast of the livestream is promising a repeat of the show shortly.