For the Fourth Time in Six Albums, Kanye West Takes the Top Pazz & Jop Prize

Categories: Pazz & Jop

Louisa Bertman

You don't have to ask. Kanye West will do it for you.

"How much do I not give a fuck?" he wonders just over a minute into the grinding, bombastic first track off his 2013 victory lap, Yeezus, which is bubbling with answers to that very question. "Let me show you right now . . ."

See also: Kanye West - Barclays Center - 11/19/13

The answer directly following Ye's query is delivered via the Holy Name of Mary Choral Family, from their stirring ode to anti-materialism and the many temptations of the world "He'll Give Us What We Need." In a soothing and melodic about-face to the punishing computer burps that precede it, they sing, "He'll give us what we need/ It may not be what we want" over the meaty carnival chords of a keyboard.

With that song, "On Sight," we set off down the Yeezus gauntlet, a 10-track master class taught by a man doing it his way — heavy on bravado, long on justifiable anger, short on joy, tinged with misogyny, touched with a dab of sweet-and-sour sauce.

View this year's full Village Voice Pazz & Jop music critics' poll.

Yeezus walked all over our 2013 Pazz and Jop poll, taking top album honors and filling three of the top 10 singles' slots ("Bound 2," "New Slaves," "Black Skinhead"), impressive considering the album is nearly devoid of radio hits. (But not too surprising: Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy did the same back in 2010.) It's Kanye's fourth album in six that's stunted all over Pazz, making him the most successful and consistent artist in the history of the poll. His four wins tie him for most ever with Bob Dylan. Kanye, of course, did it in a fraction of the time with a much smaller body of work.

The album — and "On Sight" in particular — is a kick in the teeth, the sound of Kanye's patience wearing thin, no longer content to knock, instead deciding to break the door down. He let it be known in an interview or 1,000 over 2013 that "Sight" wasn't meant to lead off the album. That distinction, instead, was to be awarded to "Blood on the Leaves," a tale of spurned celebrity love, abortion, and first-time molly use delivered maddeningly and — in the album's most convincing and surprising endorsement of quality — successfully over Nina Simone's moving cover of "Strange Fruit." His decision to swap "Blood" for "Sight" is evidence of a very important fact about Kanye: He does give a fuck. He gives the most fucks.

See also: An Illustrated Kanye West Quiz!

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