Kanye West releases stunning comeback album featuring Susan Boyle
LOS ANGELES -- After a war of words with his former friend and collaborator Jay-Z, Kanye West has come roaring back onto the rap-pop scene with his latest album, Pariah, a bracing act of self-reinvention that dropped on Apple Music Friday.
Pariah heavily features Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer and Britain’s Got Talent finalist, who often plays hype-man for Mr. West. On the existentially bracing track, "I, Kanye, am Taylor Swift," Boyle suffuses Kanye's Dadaist musings with a critical menopausal energy via furious Celtic rap sequences. Likewise, on "Kim is better than Beyonce," Boyle provides a memorable interlude of vigorous flute playing.
Some songs are less successful. West's attempts to cover Samuel Ward’s masterpiece “America the Beautiful,” Frozen’s iconic “Let It Go,” and the entirety of Taylor Swift's hit album 1989 are reminiscent of bad performance art. His musical ambition careens into self-destruction on the album's debut single, Maniac, in which Kanye whistles a 4-minute tribute to his misunderstood muse, failed former presidential candidate Donald Trump, while Ms. Boyle softly whispers racial slurs in the background.
West proves politically eclectic on Pariah, launching into odd tirades against the Irish Republican Army and even leveling multiple bruising attacks against obscure U.S. Representative Mark Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.
New York Times' music critic Jon Caramanica criticized Mr. West's geopolitical adventurism on Pariah as “digressive to the point of bizarre” and “psychosexually disturbing, even for Kanye,” calling out West's defense of Kim Jong Un as "strangely dependent on the use of the harp.”
But others received West's views differently. “I found Kanye’s take on the sectarian and tribal divisions in Yemen extremely cogent,” said the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof.