A recent Billboard article, “Kanye West Will Release New Album ‘Most Likely in September’; Readies ‘All Day’ Single,” discusses Kanye West’s upcoming album and its uncertain release date. Based upon the article, it would seem that the direction, as well as major details about the forthcoming album aren’t concrete. Perhaps Mr. West is just being secretive, but judging by the notion he’s “reworking” an album he could have already released, it’s apparent he’s not sold on his own work.
Regardless of when West decides to drop his new album, the question that’s most important to the success of this new album is both the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’ Those two considerations would suggest that Yeezus wasn’t perfect after all? You might say that, at least to an extent.
First, analyzing the ‘what,’ Yeezuswas an album that the critics seemed to universally adore. That said, from the perspective of fans, while many enjoyed it, some were mixed or off-put. Of West’s discography, Yeezus is arguably the rapper’s most polarizing album. Not only is it his briefest effort, it’s also his most experimental, lacking commercial records like his past work. Sure “Bound 2” was vintage (a top 15 hit) and “Blood on the Leaves” epic, but there was still the lack of significant, top 20 caliber hits.
The ‘what’ will be important to Mr. West to earn back fans who didn’t show up for Yeezus. No matter how ‘innovative’ or unique Yeezus was to hip-hop music in 2013 (if one buys into that assertion), it was unfortunately Wests’ least inviting effort, even less so than 2008LP 808s & Heartbreak. While the new album doesn’t have to be a retread of his past, West could certainly use his past as inspiration for his future.
The ‘how’ is arguably a simpler concept than the ‘what.’ West chose NOT to promote Yeezus basically, relying on his name only to sell the album. That’s a bold move that worked the first week for Yeezus, but didn’t make it truly the success that it should/could have been. Promoting the upcoming album should be important to West in order to maintain his presence as a commercially successful rap artist.
Singles being issued and available for purchase ahead of release would greatly benefit West this go-round. Yeah, he was able to sell without “Black Skinhead” being anywhere near iTunes/amazon mp3 ahead of Yeezus, but this time, that likely won’t fly. Additionally, an ambitious TV campaign the week of release could very well fuel the fire for West’s sales and the sustainability of the new album.
Ultimately, if you had to summarize the tweaks that Kanye West needs to seriously consider ahead of his new album, it is simply the execution. It’s fine for Kanye to do Kanye, but he also can’t overindulge in ‘god’ status and forget he needs to actually sell albums and maximize those sales.