Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
The new Kanye West album has leaked, and after a few plays I can honestly say that it transcends any cultural implications that might be associated with it. Listening to the album, my perception of cultural and musical relevance which has inadvertently been honed over years of reading about music on the internet completely disappears. Listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I don’t feel hip or ironic, nor do I feel l@mestrm. For the first time in a long time I can just listen honestly. To illustrate my point, here’s a few things that I brainstormed while first listening to this album that miraculously don’t matter to me at all anymore.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or whatever is the worst album name I’ve heard in a long time.
Nicki Minaj probably has ass implants
Fergie really, really sucks
Kanye West pisses me off
He’s also not a very good rapper
Kid Cudi is pretty terrible and I really hate how all my lame wannabe hipster friends like him
It’s so annoying how girls think they’re so indie just because they heard “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
Isn’t it lame when Kanye just lifts a sample from another song and puts it over a beat and doesn’t really do anything with it like in Stronger?
Stronger kind of sucked too.
There’s this girl I liked and she got really pissed at me cause I said Nicki Minaj sucked. I guess I was wrong but I had only heard her verse in that retarded “My Chick Bad” song by Ludacris, which sucks by the way
That South Park fish sticks joke wasn’t really that hilarious but I feel like Kanye was just really lame in reaction to it
which reminds me that Kanye is MAD
I’m so sick of hearing about Kanye on Pitchfork/hypem/tumblr/facebook/mu////////
That G.O.O.D. Friday series thing was really obnoxious too. So sick of hearing about a new Kanye song every week. The only one I listened to when it came out was Monster anyway, and that was okay I guess.
I forgot, I’m not even ON Twitter, but somehow Kanye West’s twitter really pisses me off. I can’t even remember why
Oh yeah, that’s why.
I’m so sick of OVERRATED
The five album cover thing is a total gimmick, oh, and all the album covers suck.
Bon Iver’s Woods sucks. Hate that song
Kanye said Coldplay were better than the Beatles in an NME article. NME sucks, Coldplay sucks. Life sucks
Why do rappers think they can get away with making albums well over an hour long?
Kanye gets played on mainstream radio, he can’t be good. HOT 93.7 TELL ME WHY U MAD
And that’s it. Kanye West the man is obnoxious, Kanye West the rapper is mediocre, and Kanye West the producer is overrated. Many of his countless collaborators here are hardly better, and some lack any credibility outside of mainstream radio. But no matter what Kanye West may be, his new record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (I’m trying to stop writing it, but it’s just too hilarious) is a complete work of art and easily the best hip-hop record in years. Kanye sounds better here than ever, and though his lyrics have never been particularly great, they act as a catalyst to the success of the record as a whole. It is an entirely cohesive work, despite the many collaborators present, and even though each guest comes with his or her own quirks that leave their mark on each track, the record itself is entirely Kanye. It is a conceptual journey into the psyche of a self-described genius, a self-obsessed twitter fanatic, a pitchfork-approved mainstreamer, the man whose words marked the “worst moment” of George W. Bush’s presidency, and yet another “best rapper alive”.
But concept aside, this record absolutely shines musically. Kanye’s samples are better than ever, and Kanye lays old school R&B, neo-classical music, guitar sounding clavinets, folk/electronic music, and even King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” down to create a production sound so lush and engrossing that it pushes any mediocrity in terms of rapping to the wayside. Album opener “Dark Fantasy” warms the listener with gorgeous bass strings and plinking piano supporting a choir of heavenly voices before breaking into a sampled beat. Subsequently, “Power” yelps with tribal beats and sampled shouts, and Kanye’s verse delivery is masterful. The King Crimson sample is neat, but only when it finds itself among the beats, and ricochets around the stereo does it transcend novelty status. The aforementioned “Monster” is the most raucously hard song on the album, and it totally rips. Justin Vernon’s vocals are dirty and distorted, and the monstrous beat roars and growls under them. Kanye and Jay-Z’s verses are good, but it is the hip-hop upstart Nicki Minaj whose rapping skills are on full display here. She tears into her verse, which is one of the highlights of the record. The minimal beat cuts out at all the right times for her, accentuating her pretty remarkable talents and various voices and rapping styles. Other highlights include the more-chilled out “Blame Game”, which samples Aphex Twin’s beautiful “Avril 14th” and features a hilarious but surprisingly fitting Chris Rock guest vocal at the end, and “Lost in the World”, a Bon Iver-featuring trance jam which sounds epic enough to close a festival but accessible enough to imagine hearing on the radio. Many of the other tracks are huge-sounding dance pop numbers with R&B choruses, such as the album centerpiece “All of the Lights”, a song which completely subverts a decade of popular music with a similar but decidedly more retro formula. The song is incredible, and represents everything that pop music should be. With this song, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy itself, Kanye West has made the rest of American mainstream music look like a complete folly.