Kanye West’s “Ghost Town” Was the Saving Grace of His Messy 2018
It's "Ghost Town."
Kanye West’s 2018 was... eventful? Sure, Kanye is and has always been a hectic headline machine, but in what has been an incredibly controversial career, 2018 saw Kanye raise his controversy level to heights never previously displayed.
Just when you think he’s gonna lay low, he draws a dick on the Sistine Chapel, does ketamine with the cast of Stranger Things, and goes on a Twitter rant about why Jeffrey Dahmer is actually an American hero.
In just the past 12 months, Kanye divided fans when he rocked a MAGA hat and started fangirl-ing over Donald The Racist Pumpkin, and even had a meeting with him in the White House in what felt like a real-life SNL skit. Not to mention his clumsily-worded comments on slavery, his failure to drop a promised second full-length album (Yandhi), and that song with Lil Pump I’d rather not discuss in mixed company.
Musically, aside from Pusha T’s DAYTONA and KIDS SEE GHOSTS—two of the 15 best albums released this year—his string of Wyoming projects kind of came and went. Even the most hardcore of my fellow Kanye stans were lukewarm about ye, his disappointing first solo album post-Pablo. It wasn’t necessarily a “bad” album, but it definitely wasn’t on par with the rest of Kanye’s discography. ye sounds like watching Michael Jordan score 14 points and dribble between his legs for 20 minutes.
Watching Kanye’s 2018 felt like reading a Stephen King novel, but there was one saving grace: “Ghost Town.”
“Ghost Town” is not only a standout selection on ye, but it’s also one of the most meaningful songs of Kanye’s career. It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with records like “Hey Mama,” “Ultralight Beam,” and “Runaway” as one of the most emotionally powerful cuts in his arsenal. If ye was just “Ghost Town” on a loop for 23 minutes, it would have been the album of the year. Possibly the century. Probably the millennium.
“Ghost Town” feels like a drunk monk driving a speeding tour bus through Kanye’s tortured psyche. It’s vulnerable and heartbreaking but also beautifully optimistic. Kanye’s brief verse feels like a hopeful blueprint of the path to mental wellness, while Kid Cudi’s hook feels like a desperate, gut-wrenching plea; like a lost child who just wants some affection but can't get it no matter how hard he tries.
“Ghost Town” is a song for anyone who’s ever slogged through a tragic period and kept hope alive by squinting at that light at the end of the tunnel—which is everyone.
“I've been trying to make you love me, but everything I try just takes you further from me.”
I get goosebumps every time I hear those words fall out of Kid Cudi’s iconic voicebox. The way his voice cracks with vulnerability, it feels like he’s ripping his beating heart out for a few seconds and shoving it in your face.
In a hilariously, depressingly messy year, “Ghost Town” should serve as the guiding light of Yeezianity. It’s what kept me aboard the West Express despite all of the distressing antics.
Every time Kanye did something cringeworthy, playing the song actually helped me forgive and forget. When I was upset Kanye met with 45 in the Oval Office, I pressed play on “Ghost Town.” After Kanye went on an unaired rant defending 45 following his SNL appearance, again, I pressed play on “Ghost Town.” And when Kanye didn't drop Yandhi on time, of course, I pressed play on “Ghost Town.”
Honestly, I think “Ghost Town” could make me forgive Kanye for just about anything. Kanye could murder both of my parents with a baseball bat and burn my house down and “Ghost Town” would help me forgive him. Kanye could record a pro-Trump song WITH Trump called “Father Stretch My Tiny Hands, Pt. 1” and “Ghost Town”—and a bottle of Jack—would ease the pain.
More than its musical brilliance, “Ghost Town” is a reminder that no matter what happens, Kanye West is still Kanye goddamn West.
I think I’m ready for 2019.