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Review: ‘Yeezus’ is Kanye West unhinged

Everything about Yeezus, rapper/producer Kanye West’s sixth album, smacks of a middle child going to behavioral extremes for attention. The blasphemy bait (see title and “I Am a God”). The abrasive music (West borrows liberally from the Chicago musical tradition, from the industrial synth-metal of Ministry to the acid house of Trax Records). The even-more abrasive lyrical content (Kanye talks fisting in the borderline misogynistic “I’m In It”). If 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy wavered between West’s fame fatigue and a cry for help, the unrepentant id of Yeezus reveals a manic man-child in dire need of some lithium. It’s a bloodletting that boasts few pleasurable moments — the Marilyn Manson-like percussion shuffle of “Black Skinhead” is offset by Kanye’s racially charged rage — and even less of the burrowing songcraft for which the hip-hop auteur is known. And yet, its visionary merging of disparate influences (Daft Punk gets some credit; it contributes to four tracks), stark focus and lack of inhibition reveal a work of mad genius — emphasis on mad.