June 1 | A Dissection | Unlikely Similarities between Kanye West & Trevor Hall
Evan Dale // Jun 6, 2018
June 1, 2018 was likely an important date for many. Historically a favored wedding date and a sort of unofficial launch to the beginning of summer for those attending schools on the semester cycle, there is rarely anything but celebration in the grand scheme of June 1’s modern history. But this year, the date brought with it particularly special occasion. Two key releases from two of modern music’s key artistic legends, who, though existing on polar ends of music’s spectrum in nearly every way, have proved to have much more in common than ever could have been thought possible.
Kanye West’s eighth career album, Ye, was expectedly and understandably a project with an exceptional amount of buildup and hype. The man is much more myth than man at this point and really, much more legend than myth. Past that, there is really no need breaking down his history aside from the recent. Bouts of public controversy and exceptional creative undertakings have left him in a particularly polarizing and challenging position as of late. But, the artist that he is has done what he always has – delivered what is, in at least a series of semblances, a very Kanye project.
It’s important to ignore the hate for a minute, take a step back, and realize that there hasn’t been a Kanye album in history that wasn’t at first tentatively received by the public and overtly criticized by harsh opinion. Yet, each of his previous seven albums, The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus, and The Life Of Pablo, have come to be artistically innovative cornerstones on the modern hip-hop construct. He is, even without the self-proclamation, a genius, and though surely geniuses have missteps, it’s important not to confuse innovative change and experimentation as such.
Opinions can be valid but are rarely explained in a way that makes them so. Any and all are welcome to dislike Ye, and there are plenty of cases to be made for and against, but the argument stating that the albumis a non-correlated misstep of the Kanye West spectrum is utter nonsense. Kanye West is, not just from production role to production role, from album to album, from song to song, but from verse to verse, nearly impossible to define, and as such, the argument that Yehas an experimental, somewhat unfamiliar approach is not even an argument – just an obligatory fact – a duh.
It is, at a time where mental health seems to be a rising a respected matter of subject in hip-hop – a trend started with the openness of Kid Cudi and taking strong root in the new school by way of artist’s like KYLE and Lil Yachty, an album with a great amount of exploration along just such lines – and a necessary sort of release for an artist and a person admittedly suffering from just such problems. It’s an incredibly open, honest and powerful exploration of the self that is as emotionally-relatable as any Kanye release of the past.
It’s also incredibly well-written and truly the most vintage Kanye album in terms of lyricism since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010. Its relatively mellow and undertone production is also a nod towards his less production-centered projects of the deep past, and simultaneously a look at the future where the over-produced are quickly being displaced by the simplistic in one of the eternally cyclical natures of hip-hop.
Ye is new. It’s bold. It’s experimental. It’s different. It’s important. Most of all, it’s his. It’s Kanye West to the bone.
Trevor Hall’s eighth career album, The Fruitful Darkness, has come to fruition as the culmination of a series of journeys and challenges the likes of which are rarely faced by a musician in the acoustic / reggae / alternative spectrums. But through the difficulties, it has become clear that Trevor Hall boasts one of the strongest audiences in the modern music scene. His project was not only funded entirely through crowdsourcing but was in fact the most successful Kickstarter music campaign in all of 2017. The project is also his debut album as an independent which has only added to the challenges of conception and ultimate delivery.
It’s important to take a step back and remember that in 2011 with the release of Everything Everytime Everywhere, the subsequent releases of Chapter Of The Forest in 2014, and KALA the following year, Trevor Hall, was sitting on top of the acoustic world. But the times were difficult. Putting out the most open, honest, and personal music of his career – a particularly strong statement for such an emotionally capable musician – at a time when he was also growing to popular reaches he had never done before and exploring his spirituality to the fullest, he became lost and disoriented with what music meant to him personally.
"Music was a way for me to explore my internal world and emotions and it helped me make sense of things, but because of the traveling, touring and grind, music became a thing that wouldn’t allow me to do those things anymore.It became almost a stressful thing for me and when that happened, I really suffered. So, for the first time in my career, I stopped and didn’t know when I was going to come back or write something again."
Now, with the release of The Fruitful Darkness, and the overcoming of a series of problems in its wake, Trevor finds himself at a confluence of personal and career success like he has never before experienced. The completely independent project which can really be seen as a team effort with his faithful audience who the refers to as the villagers, is debuting at the top of the alternative albums chart.
The album’s risks, which extend even further than independent release and crowdsourcing campaigns, and into the bold and experimental drive of the album’s sonic landscape and thematic explorations, have paid off and delivered what isn’t only going to become his career’s most popular project, but really is, his most innovative and intriguing release to date.
It steps out of Trevor’s more traditionally acoustic approach and allows him to dip his toes into the world of electronic experimentation – which can be heard best in one of the album’s keynote deliveries – If I Was a Warrior. In the same track, a return to his roots of spoken word and elevated cadence make listeners reminisce on the days of This Is Blue – most specifically, Well I Say...
The Fruitful Darkness is refreshing. It’s bold. It’s experimental. It’s different. It’s important. Most of all, it’s his. It’s Trevor Hall to the soul.
Two projects released June 1, 2018 by two artists at the top of their respected styles. Their eighth full-length albums. Deep explorations of the self. Creative culminations of personal struggle and long, independent roads. Polarizing yet simultaneously chart-topping. Bold, experimental, different, and important. True, honest, open, and emotionally-stirring.
There is an obvious assumption that Kanye West and Trevor hall have never spoken and likely never will, but perhaps they should. They have a lot more in common than anyone could expect.
As for you, humble reader, whether you were drawn here by either name mentioned in the title, do yourself a favor and listen to both projects. It’s not only the artists that have something in common, it’s also their art.