Call it “Yeezus” shock. A couple of spins into the dense and visceral new opus from Kanye West, god of French lamps and pastries alike, and it hits you: Nothing else in your iTunes library can quite follow it up.
Kanye West is nothing if not progressive, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything like “Yeezus” on the radio. In fact, with no single to its name, indeed you’d be hard-pressed to find anything from “Yeezus” on the radio.
Naturally, though, these songs weren’t born in a vacuum. Yeezy’s journey to his sixth, and arguably most radical, solo studio album involved an extensive list of collaborators. Each drew on decades of sonic evolution in genres like acid house, industrial techno, grime, trap, rave and moombahton to create something that sounds fresh and cutting edge.
Using “Yeezus” as a starting point, we selected 10 tracks from sonic chemists — including a few Kanye collaborators — who have previously experimented with sounds to similar effect. Throw your Maybach keys, grab a croissant and click through to keep the party going.
1. Thomas Bangalter – “Extra Dry” (1998)
Considering their recent output, you may not have expected to see Daft Punk listed as the sole producer behind “On Sight,” the distorted blast of acid house that opens “Yeezus.” But long before he started noodling with nu-disco, daft robot Thomas Bangalter was responsible for hard-edged house music on releases including the “Trax on Da Rocks” EPs and the soundtrack to Gaspar Noe’s 2002 film “Irréversible.” “Extra Dry,” which appeared on both the “Irréversible” soundtrack and “Trax on Da Rocks Vol. 2,” bears more than a little resemblance to the “Yeezus” opener.
2. Youngstar – “Pulse X” (2002)
Follow the pulsing synth note in “I Am a God” with Youngstar’s seminal grime track, “Pulse X.”
3. Arca – “Self Defense” (2012)
Venezuelan-born, New-York-based producer Arca made a name for himself in the electronic underground with arresting fusions of hip-hop and bugged out dance music before getting drafted by Kanye to produce on multiple songs on “Yeezus,” including “Send it Up,” “Hold My Liqour” and “Guilt Trip.”
4. Suburban Knight “Maroon” (1998)
Detroit’s James Pennington, a.k.a Suburban Knight, authored dance music with heavy synth charges similar to those found throughout “Yeezus” in the late ‘90s.
5. Travi$ Scott – “16 Chapels” (2013)
Yeezy’s 21-year-old protégé and frequent collaborator was raised on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and has fueled Kanye’s evolution ever since. His debut mixtape, “Owl Pharaoh,” contains a handful of darkly buoyant and nihilistic bangers that aren’t too far removed from “Yeezus.”
6. Mr. Oizo – “Monday Massacre” (1999)
Electro house pioneer and current member of France’s influential Ed Banger records crew, Mr. Oizo’s fried electronics and hard-hitting drum beats pair nicely with “New Slaves” and “I Am a God.”
7. Hudson Mohawke – “Thunder Bay” (2011)
Hudson Mohawke’s massive tracks have reverberated throughout modern dance music over the past couple years, first entering Yeezy’s orbit on “Cruel Summer” in 2012. On “Yeezus” he helped helm “I Am a God,” “New Slaves” and “Send It Up” and worked on “Blood on the Leaves” as one half of trap-rave titans TNGHT.
8. The Bug ft. Killa P and Flowdan – “Skeng” (2008)
This grime classic from London’s The Bug is marked by a dark, industrial minimalism that make it fit well on Kanye’s mood board.
9. TNGHT – “Acrylics” (2013)
Dance-floor destroyers TNGHT, a.k.a. Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, brought Kanye out at an NYC show earlier this year, possibly around the time they were helping him craft “Yeezus”‘s assaultive, Nina-Simone-sampling, “Blood on the Leaves.”
10. Aphex Twin – “Elephant Song” (1994)
The mercurial electronic music maestro Aphex Twin pre-saged the raw, cacophonous spirit of “Yeezus” on this repetitious onslaught, complete with screaming sample.
(Editor’s Note: Shout out to electronic music aficionado, Joshua Bradshaw, for his contribution.)