Kanye West‘s so-called ‘Wyoming sessions’ came to a close recently with the release of Teyana Taylor‘s ‘KTSE’, the fifth and final record of a five-album series that also included Kanye-produced, 7-track LPs from Pusha T, Nas, West himself and Kanye’s Kid Cudi collaborative duo of Kids See Ghosts.
If you’ve not been keeping up with the week-by-week flurry of album drops, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered! We present you with ‘We Got Love’ (named after Kanye’s mysterious new website of the same name) – the ultimate Wyoming sessions playlist, featuring two tracks a piece from each record, as well an album-by-album beginners’ guide.
Pusha T – ‘Daytona’
A glorious start to the Wyoming series and debatably the strongest record of all of them, ‘Daytona’ saw one of rap’s most perpetually underrated stars rising to the occasion and finally getting the critical and commercial recognition he’s long deserved.
Sure, Pusha’s still talking about dealing drugs and calling out frauds and fakes (leaving Drake in his wake), that’s not changed. But – backed by Kanye’s sharpest production in years – the former Clipse rapper sounds peerless and in a league of his own.
While Pusha’s relationship with Kanye is undoubtedly strong, West’s influence doesn’t go unchecked on ‘Daytona’. Pusha pushes back against West’s Trumpian views (at one point comparing the President to a Gremlin) and never indulges his producer. It’s clearly Pusha that’s in firm control here.
Best tracks: ‘If You Know You Know’, ‘Come Back Baby’.
Honourable mentions: ‘Santeria’, ‘What Would Meek Do?’, ‘The Games We Play’, ‘Infrared’.
One to skip: ‘Hard Piano’.
Kanye West – ‘Ye’
On ‘Ye’, Kanye decided to scrap a whole album’s worth of material and start again entirely just weeks prior to its scheduled release. Eight days before it was due to drop and Kanye still hadn’t written any lyrics. Sadly, you can tell too.
There’s definitely highlights on ‘Ye’ – ‘Ghost Town’ is a burst of euphoria, while ‘No Mistakes’ is a joyous middle-finger-up. Elsewhere, opener ‘I Thought About Killing You’ is the rawest Kanye’s sounded… well, perhaps ever.
Still, none of these tracks stand anywhere next to West’s very best. Too often they allow Kanye to indulge his own whims (the frenzied yelps of ‘Yikes’, the creepy-ass lyrics on ‘Violent Crimes’). Production-wise too, Kanye sounds like he’s treading water, rather than pushing the culture forward, as we’ve grown used to.
As ever with Kanye, ‘Ye’ is an interesting and addictive listen. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, though.
Best tracks: ‘Ghost Town’, ‘No Mistakes’.
Honourable mentions: ‘Yikes’, ‘Wouldn’t Leave’, ‘I Thought About Killing You’.
Ones to skip: ‘Violent Crimes’, ‘All Mine’.
Kids See Ghosts – ‘Kids See Ghosts’
While ‘Ye’ largely showed Kanye as defiant and unrepentant, ‘Kids See Ghosts’ sees Kanye and Cudi more meditative and introspective.
It includes Kanye’s best bars of the entire Wyoming project (“What an awesome thing, engulfed in shame/ I want all the pain / I want all the smoke / I want all the blame”), actually successful – shock horror – in portraying West rather sympathetically.
Digging up some obscure psych-rock and jazz samples, as well as an unreleased Kurt Cobain guitar part, the pair manage to perfectively soundtrack the feeling of inner chaos.
Best tracks: ‘Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)’, ‘Reborn’.
Honourable mentions: ‘Feel The Love’, ‘4th Dimension’, ‘Cudi Montage’.
Ones to skip: ‘Kids See Ghosts’, ‘Fire’.
Nas – ‘Nasir’
While Kanye’s records were conceived in the matter of days, ‘Nasir’ – the first Nas album since 2012’s ‘Life Is Good’ – probably dates a little long. Nas has been teasing the release ever since his 2016 DJ Khaled collaboration ‘Nas Album Done’, rapping on the track: “Khaled called me when I was in album mode… My album done, n***as, wait and see”.
Perhaps West’s production was only added during the Wyoming stake-out, but it’s unlikely that Nas’ lyrics weren’t largely completed beforehand. It sounds that way too, with Nas doing his own thing, offering little new and rarely interacting with West’s flows or samples.
Best tracks: ‘Adam and Eve’, ‘Cops Shot The Kid’.
Honourable mentions: ‘White Label’.
Ones to skip: The rest of it.
Teyana Taylor – ‘KTSE’
A late contender for the whole Wyoming crown – surprising coming from the least anticipated one of all the records.
Like Pusha, R&B singer and former My Super Sweet 16 reality star Taylor has been grossly overlooked in the past – partly by her very own label (the album touches upon the perception that, at times, Kanye’s GOOD Music could have provided Teyana with more of a platform).
But with ‘KTSE’, Taylor makes us all – Kanye included – sit up and take notice, as she delivers jam after jam, culminating in the club-ready banger of ‘WTP’.
The only criticism we can muster is that the album ignores the 7-track format that the rest of the albums adhere to. Kanye – ever the troll. Is nothing sacred any more?
Best tracks: ‘WTP’, ‘Rose In Harlem’.
Honourable mentions: ‘Gonna Love Me’, ‘Issues/Hold On’, ‘Hurry’, ‘Never Would Have Made It’.
One to skip: ‘3Way’.