“There are decades where nothing happens,” the Russian leader Vladimir Lenin once wrote, “and there are weeks where decades happen.” Kanye West's album rollouts tend to be spectacles — remember the frantic, 11th-hour revisions to 2016's The Life of Pablo? — but even by the 41-year-old's frenetic standards, his latest era has been volatile and unpredictable. After laying low for more than a year following a very public breakdown in late 2016, West has crammed volumes of creative output and tabloid drama into just a few brief weeks.
In mid-April, West announced that his G.O.O.D. Music label would release five West-produced albums on five consecutive Fridays, beginning with a Pusha-T LP on May 25. Then came a solo West album, a collaborative project between West and Kid Cudi called Kids See Ghosts, Nas' first album in six years, and, finally, a Teyana Taylor project to conclude the series. For anyone familiar with West's loose adherence to deadlines, the likelihood of all five coming to fruition seemed unlikely. But barring a few rollout delays -- on the afternoon of her scheduled release date, Taylor was retweeting fan memes about the record not yet being available -- the improbable has come to pass. From a creative fortress outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, West oversaw the release of five miniature albums (all are seven-track sets, except for Taylor's eight-song LP) that captivated the music world.
Naturally, the intervening two months have been filled with tumult. The highlights read like the plot of a soap opera with an experimental writers room: West posed in a Make America Great Again hat in a picture retweeted by President Trump; West released a scatological troll as his big comeback single; West appeared on a TMZ talkshow and suggested that American slavery was a choice (he has since clarified); Pusha-T began a no-holds-barred feud with Drake and won; West flew a cadre of music industry luminaries (and Jonah Hill) to Wyoming for a campfire debut of his album; and, in the most surprisingly normal move of all, West appeared on an episode of Celebrity Family Feud.