Kanye West-New Slaves (Live)

The music world is buzzing heavily about Kanye’s various actions in recent days, so let me summarise: His 6th album, Yeezus, is landing on 18th June, the artwork is here, and he premiered the video for New Slaves via projections on 66 buildings worldwide. Caught up?

He then used his slot on Saturday Night Live to perform both New Slaves and Black Skinhead, and those performances combine with the official video to reveal Kanye’s latest branding mechanism: minimalism and aggression. Gone is the flashy, hyperactive showman and in steps a frustrated rapper with economical movements; the focus is squarely on his expressions in both this video (thanks to Nikul for the find, given that it doesn’t seem to last on YouTube for more than 5 minutes!) and the projected clip, with the backgrounds mostly blacked out and the focus purely on his face. The raps land somewhere between defiant, arrogant and angry, and there’s no lack of belief or feeling throughout; at points, it’s clear he’s bursting with an energy that threatens to cut away from his static body language, and those progressively intense sit nicely above a bassy, simplistic percussion that rarely threatens to steal his spotlight. It’s seemingly only the first half of the song performed here, with the vocalised section cut out, but there’s enough here to solidify his no-frills creative direction, and time will tell if the rest of the output matches up. After the relatively disappointing mainstream fare of Watch the Throne, I’m sure most of us hold hope that it will.

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