In a September press conference for the album, Vernon gave an explanation for this formal conceit that West would undoubtedly relate to, “I think it’s that thing of wanting to bash things apart a little bit and break through some stuff,” he said.
With the help of the Messina—which creates a harmony between your voice and live instruments as you’re performing—he doubles, distorts, and pitches his vocals to introduce a strange, extraterrestrial presence to 22, A Million, not dissimilar to Frank Ocean’s vocals on Blonde opener, “Nikes.” But, though he sounds alien, Vernon isn’t seeking to alienate his listeners.
Likewise, his lyricism is by turns lucid and mystifying, balancing intimate, lovingly described moments (“Sharing smoke/in the stair up off the hot car lot”) with declarations that sound transcribed from the ether, or cribbed from Thom Yorke’s Notes app (“To walk aside your favor, I'm an Astuary King”).
Supplementing the LP’s mystic appeal is an album cover adorned with rainbows, yin-yangs, and representations of Vernon’s personal numerology.
If only for the length of a proper LP, the two are able to give us glimpses into a potential cultural future, what music could and likely will sound like in their wake.