WQXR: Yeethoven - Great Minds Think Alike: Kanye West vs. Beethoven

WQXR
James Bennett, II

 Kanye West and Beethoven

Kanye West and Beethoven

After the success of 2016’s Yeethoven composer and arranger Johan and conductor Yuga Cohler have returned for Yeethoven II, a concert focused on the similarities between the artistry of Kanye West and Ludwig van Beethoven. Besides just having a great name — who wouldn’t want to explore the limits of that wondrous portmanteau — the creators of the project see it as a way to explore the ways in which artists at the top of their game can have a deep impact on the culture beyond their musical influence.

With Kanye’s release of 2013’s Yeezus, the Yeethoven creators were taken by his abandonment of verse-chorus-verse conventions of most popular music and his embrace of a freer, more adventurous sound. Johan and Cohler worked backwards to find Beethoven, but believe their connections fit. For example: the dynamic shifts in the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony share a similar quality with Kanye’s “Blood On the Leaves.”

Some may bristle at the mere mention of these two names in the same breath, but if you look hard enough, it isn’t difficult to find parallels between the two — or of many great artists, for that matter.

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