The most polarizing question about music this year might just be: "What do you think of 'Yeezus?' "
Some thought Kanye West's unquestionably adventurous latest album was unlistenable trash. Others thought it was stark raving genius. Both camps, however, have to hand it to Kanye West for creating an album that everyone seems to be talking about in 2013.
It just underscores that Kanye is king when it comes to generating publicity for himself. It doesn't seem to matter to him what the talk is -- good, bad, whatever -- as long as it centers on him. He's like the 21st-century update on Madonna.
"Yeezus" isn't my favorite hip-hop album of the year -- that title goes (thus far) to J. Cole's "Born Sinner" -- but I do like it. And I'm really interested in hearing how its wild tracks will translate on the live stage. I'll have the chance to find out when West's Yeezus Tour hits the SAP Center in San Jose on Tuesday (it comes to the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Wednesday).
Fans should make sure to arrive in time to catch the opening act, Kendrick Lamar, the young Compton rapper who many see as the Crown Prince of Hip-Hop. His major-label debut, "good kid, m.A.A.d city," was certainly one of the best offerings of 2012. Plus, he proved during last month's Rock the Bells festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View that he's just as great onstage as he is in the studio.
It very well could -- and should -- turn out to be the season's best doubleheader.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $38-$147 for San Jose and $37.50-$142.75 for Oakland (www.ticketmaster.com).
ROCK LEGENDS: Catching Kanye and Kendrick means I'll have to miss another incredibly enticing double bill -- unparalleled songwriter Brian Wilson and immensely influential guitarist Jeff Beck performing at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland on Tuesday.
Too bad I can't be in two places at once, because the thought of skipping Wilson -- one of my all-time favorites -- is kind of killing me. And it's been way too long since I've seen Beck tear up the frets. Yet there's no way that I'd pass up the chance to write about the always-fascinating West.
Of course, some have pointed out that West is doing two Bay Area dates. So, theoretically, it would be possible for me to see both of these tours -- Wilson and Beck on Tuesday and Kanye and Kendrick on Wednesday in Oakland. Yet that's not how this newspaper rolls. Protocol dictates that I review the first night of Kanye.
So I'll just have to live vicariously through the texts, tweets and Facebook posts from those who actually make it to the Wilson-Beck gig in Oakland. I suspect it will be a sensational night of music. How could it be anything less with these two mighty Rock and Roll Hall of Famers?
Wilson, of course, is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. The work he did with the Beach Boys stands tall next to any catalog in history. I always leap at the chance to hear such enduring pop gems as "Surfer Girl," "In My Room," "I Get Around," "Don't Worry Baby," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Help Me, Rhonda" and "California Girls."
Then there's Beck, who is unquestionably one of rock's most significant guitarists. He's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice -- with the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a solo artist in 2009.
Plus, these two geniuses have been collaborating recently in the studio -- so perhaps fans might get some new material in Oakland?
As an added bonus, Wilson's former Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin will also appear at the show.
Showtime is 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $39.50-$149.50 (www.ticketmaster.com).
GREEK GARCIA: Deadheads will want to grab a copy of the latest archival Jerry Garcia Band release, "GarciaLive, Vol. 2," which was recorded at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on Aug. 5, 1990.
The two-disc set is a really nice document of late-era JGB shows. It's a comparatively mellow outing, offering up at least as many vocal highlights as fret board fireworks. The listener still gets plenty of the latter -- especially toward the end of the triumphant version of "Tangled Up in Blue." Yet the track I'll replay most is "That Lucky Old Sun," which features an astoundingly tender side to the vocalist.
"GarciaLive, Vol. 2" retails for $16.99 CD and $11.99 digital download at www.jerrygarcia.com.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.