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Music June, 19 2013

Let’s Find Out What a 6-Year-Old Thinks of ‘Yeezus’

Album reviews are inevitably the calculated thoughts of one person who in turn interprets a musical project based on inherent likes and dislikes. Sure, they’re supposed to be objective, but ruffling feathers with either a scalding or scathing review is what gets people talking. With the release of Yeezus, Kanye West has moved into a different facet of his career where…

Wait a minute. Therein lies the problem. I know who Kanye West is. I know what I expected. I know what I really wanted. To review Yeezus is like being in the mood for a specific delicacy and getting served something on a completely different side of the culinary spectrum. It’s hard to find a person in media – or in society in general – who doesn’t have an opinion on Kanye West.

Except Jake.

Jake is my friend’s 6-year-old son. He’s your typical kid. He talks a little too much. He wants to tell you about the origins of his grass stains and still won’t let it slide that he saw me tear up turning Up. Precocious would be an understatement. Rambunctious would be more apropos.

I decided to head over to my friend’s house to see what Jake thought about Yeezus. I was given explicit instructions by his mother and father:

1. Don’t play any parts where there is swearing.  And…
2. You can introduce him to Kanye…but not what a Kardashian is.

Jake and I sat down in their living room. He was mesmerized by the Jawbone JAMBOX so I decided to test just how sharp this kid really was. “There are little men inside that box who play the songs,” I said. Jake furrowed his brow and shook his head. He wasn’t buying it. The system was officially calibrated. I was going to introduce a 6-year-old to Yeezus – I was bringing musical religion to a kid who used to accept Tinky Winky as his lord and savior.

1. On Sight

Initial Thoughts: It sounds like the Transformers are mad and he is MORE mad. Lasers aren’t as good at making music as a guitar or a piano.
Did Jake Like It?: Nope.

2. Black Skinhead

Initial Thoughts: I like the drums. There is a lot of screaming.
Did Jake Like It?: More than the one with the lasers.

3. I Am A God

Initial Thoughts: The song is really called “I Am A God”? He says “I Am A God” a whole lot.
Did Jake Like It?: No.
Why Not?: You can’t dance to it.

4. New Slaves

Initial Thoughts: All the songs by Can J West sound the same. What does it mean to “wear your heart on a sleeve?” Oh, that’s a cool thing to say.
Did Jake Like It?: A little.

5. Hold My Liquor

Initial Thoughts: This is the best one yet. I like the robot singing. Is that a real robot? Do they make Auto Tune machine toys for kids?
Did Jake Like It?: A lot.
What Does Jake Think “Hold My Liquor” means?: It means that a girl doesn’t want you to kiss her.

6. I’m In It

Initial Thoughts: These sounds don’t go together. He should listen to “Gangnam Style” to learn how to make more catchy songs.
Did Jake Like It?: Worst one yet.

7. Blood on the Leaves

Initial Thoughts: That’s the first piano I’ve actually been able to hear. Why doesn’t he like to use real instruments? Is Molly the name of his girlfriend?
Did Jake Like It?: This one was pretty good.

8. Guilt Trip

Initial Thoughts: That “BRAAAAAHHHHH” sound gets really annoying. It’s like a kid whining for his mom.
Did Jake Like It? Is this album almost over?

9. Send It Up

Initial Thoughts: This song sounds like a fire drill. The roof…the roof…the roof is on fire!
Call 911 or Let It Burn? Let it burn.

10. Bound 2

Initial Thoughts: This sounds like The College Dropout-era Kanye (okay, that was me. I just couldn’t help myself).

Before leaving and assuring Jake’s parents that he hadn’t been traumatized by our impromptu listening party, Jake had his own line of questioning for me. “So he’s rich?  And he’s famous? And he can buy whatever he wants?”

“Yep,” I said.

“Then why is he so angry?”

I drove home wondering the same thing. I suppose the only answer I could give to Jake the next time I saw him was, “Because Can J West is an artist.”

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for Esquire, Details, Maxim and Playboy in the past. Follow him on Twitter @smart_alec_

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