Hip-hop icon Kanye West delivered to the world his latest body of work via an exclusive listening party on May 31. Titled simply Ye, the project is only 24 minutes from start to finish, but may very well be some of West’s most experimental work yet.
The rapper, in keeping with the nature of the music he was previewing, opted for a different approach to the traditional album listening party. Having worked on and off for a considerable amount of time on Ye, as well as albums for Teyana Taylor, Nas, Pusha T, and his collaborative work with Kid Cudi all in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, it seemed natural that was where the big reveal would take place.
In a coordinated media event, West rented out the Diamond Cross Ranch in Jackson Hole to host his reveal. The ranch’s open fields were fitted with massive speakers arranged in a circle around a bonfire, while the main barn was fully lit up and West’s neon-colored, Wyoming inspired hoodies, long sleeves, and hats were distributed as commemorative pieces for the reveal. The whole event was also live-streamed on both the Stationhead and WAV apps, allowing fans to peer in on West’s selected circle as they heard the album for the first time.
The rap icon took to the field where everyone had gathered alongside his wife, Kim Kardashian, and surrounded himself with his closest friends who had taken the trip to Wyoming to be there for his reveal.
From there, a longtime friend of West, Chris Rock, stepped on stage and gave the introduction for the new music. Citing West’s creativity as well as mentioning all of the famous hip-hop artists that were present alongside him for the reveal.
The speech’s ender gave way to the first track of the project. Dubbed “I Thought About Killing You,” it began with a flanged sample, a highly processed background vocal, and West’s spoken words on the nature of life and death. He lamented on the notions of suicide, premeditated murder, and the difference between light and dark, before giving way to raps that are wholly Ye in their articulation.
The next six songs gave way to some of West’s most versatile raps to date, featuring Kid Cudi, 070 Shake, Valee, Ty Dolla $ign, Nicki Minaj, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, Jeremih, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Dej Loaf. Kanye explores an entirely new realm sonically, delivering effortless transitions between hip-hop, electronica, R&B stylings, and rock-influenced guitar loops with powerful vocals.
The album art, which Kardashian claimed on Twitter that West actually shot on his iPhone while on the way to the album listening party, shows a magnificent sunset over the Wyoming mountains and is only donned by the small, scribbled print words, “I hate being Bi-Polar, it’s awesome.”
Ye can be streamed on all major platforms starting June 1.