Essential tracks: Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ chopped and screwed

Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

As sure as the sun rises in the east, a chopped-and-screwed version of Kanye West’s new album “Yeezus” was inevitable, and DJ AudiTory can lay claim to the first best version.

As happens these days with most pop and hip-hop album of note, soon after its Tuesday release, slowed-down, extended edits of all 10 songs on “Yeezus” started appearing online. The remixes, created by both pros and bedroom DJs looking to tap into a syrupy, Houston-born style, have become the modern-day version of reggae “dub plates.” The best of them explore, and reveal, the nooks and crannies of a recording in ways that would otherwise go unnoticed.

AudiTory’s version, uploaded to the Soundcloud music site, is a menacing, albeit pretty standard, creation, deep, dirty and very, very spooky. Employing the typical tropes of the subgenre -- big echo, low-pitched vocals, double-tracked loops -- the DJ taps into the exploding energy, and darkness at the heart, of West’s work.


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Slowed down, the screams on “I Am A God” seem to bubble up from hell, and the crawling synth lines drag within the track like a dangling muffler scraping on concrete. The opening song, “On Sight,” is thick with electronic noise, dense with static like on the original Daft Punk-produced original, but at half-speed it sounds even grimier.

The downside? “Blood on the Leaves,” when slowed, reveals the extent to which West unnecessarily insulted the voice of Nina Simone by pitching it up. Simone’s tone, so deep, is sped to nearly comical proportions in the recorded version; when chopped, the sample returns Simone’s voice to its original beauty -- albeit slightly lower and slower.

What’s best, the success of this “Yeezus” rework illustrates its ripeness for remixing. There’s a lot of silence on the record, much opportunity to isolate sounds and play with them. AuditTory’s early stab proves this over and over.

Listen to “Guilt Trip” below, and click here for a stream of the whole remix.


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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit