Sorry about the blog being kind of dead lately. I was in the middle of moving in my new place and it kind of sucked all my time. But hey, enough of my personal life, and on with the blogging.
Yes, Kanye is the latest victim (or user of viral marketing) of the Internet’s leaking of upcoming albums. We all know it’s bad to illegally download music, but how are you supposed to resist the envy to download what had to be the most expected album of 2010 ? Well, sorry Mr. West, I’ll buy the album when it comes out, but I just had to listen to it right away, and it was the best decision of my week.
I was really looking forward to this album, because 808s & Heartbreak was a big let down for me. I understand Kanye tried to do something different with it and I respect that, but it was just cheap electro music, except for a few couple of songs. Word on the street (or should I say, the Internet) was that Kanye totally cancelled this 808-style for his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and went back to the basics. When he dropped his first single, Power, earlier this summer, it kind of confirmed the rumors. The beat was fresh, it was 100% hip-hop, lyrics were good old in-your-face style Kanye West. But then, at the VMAs, West performed his new single Runaway, and it took everybody by surprise. It was a track that smelled electro-autotune singing a mile away and was so different from the previous single.
After that I don’t think anybody knew what to expect from the album. Well, it’s understandable, because My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Be warned, if you’re expecting something like Graduation, you won’t understand what’s going on. Kanye took the few good aspects of his electro-pop trip he had two years ago, and mixed it with an extensive arsenal of different styles beautifully put together. This album takes you through the complete set of emotions, from bopping your head to hard old-school rap beats, to nostalgia and sadness of bright piano notes.
The album is definitely stronger when you listen to it from start to finish. Some songs, like Monster, seem completely meaningless when listened to on their own, but make perfect sense in the context of the 12-track album. The album starts out with the RZA-produced Dark Fantasy, which feels very Wu-Tang. This is true old-fashioned hip-hop. Kanye then goes in a total opposite direction with Gorgeous featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon. The beat sounds like a Jimmy Hendrix guitar riff mixed with Kanye’s distorted voice.
Kanye’s brought an whole army of artists to collaborate with him on the album. From Jay-Z and Rick Ross, to Rihanna and John Legend, these guys all contribute to make this album something unique. Lyric-wise, Mr. West shows two sides of him. He kind of makes his mea culpa about his whole outrageous attitude, while still dropping lines that make you think his ego could be a contestant on The Biggest Loser. To be honest, I think he could have sang about the Arkansas bowling league on all 12 tracks and it still would have been a great album. The lyrics are completely overshadowed by the creativity of the music.
I could go on with this review, but I feel it’s kind of useless. You just have to listen to the album to truly understand it. I’m going to say it flat-out like this: this is the best album of the year. This is Kanye’s Dark Side of the Moon, his Sgt Pepper, his Thriller. This album will make music history, and not just in the hip-hop domain, because frankly it is not an hip-hop only album. It could very well be labeled as pop or electro as well. The album’s first sung lyrics are “Can we get much higher ?” and honestly, we’ll have to see. He has just set the bar very, very high. 2010 has been an incredible year for music, it has brought incredible albums. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Eminem’s Recovery, Linkin Park’s A Thousand Suns, just to name a few… But I think Kanye just put the cherry on the cake.