"Apparently the new Kanye LP is sex incarnate, I look forward to being disappointed with it, just like with everything else Kanye has done." (-@Steve_Mcqueasy)
Fifth album in six years, Taylor Swift, "Through the Wire," Auto Tune, ego, soul, tantrum, producer-rapper, overblown, genius… You know the Kanye West story; it needs little repetition. The one piece of advice I'd dispense, if you were one of the few that hasn't actually heard it yet, is to leave your expectations at the door. That may be hard, considering the GOOD Friday free gifts, leaks, interviews and hype. But this is the kind of album you need to let wash over you, so don't expect it to give you "a happy ending."
"Listening to kanye west's new album is like swimming around in a swimming pool filled with Picassos and horny mona lisas" (-@TheLastLarry)
Lambasting critics (such as myself) in recent interviews, primarily for apparently neglecting to give him credit for the amount of influence he wields – that was never the issue, FYI – he seems to have at least focussed on, as I put it a couple of weeks ago in an editorial on the matter, the creation and distribution of his "art." And here is the short spoiler: Kanye West has made the most impressive album of his career, have absolutely no doubt of this. The music, the lyrical complexity, punchlines, the guest roster… Pretty much everything is an improvement.
"Man, MBDTF just makes u forget about WTF going on around u. Easily my 2nd favorite from Ye." (-@GhostwritaMusic)
Pretty much. I respect and admire this album, but – having listened to it extensively – I'm not sure I actually love it that much. I really like it, no doubt there. Whilst I think this is a great album, in many ways, I prefer "The College Dropout" – even if it is technically inferior, lyrically weaker, and musically simplistic compared to MBDTF. I reserve the right to change my mind (I'm funny like that), but if this album were a girl: she'd be drop dead gorgeous; have an IQ of 160; be able to play 28 instruments; be filthy in bed; have an eight-figure bank account reserve; have famous friends, the works… But I'd probably get bored of trying to listen to her incessantly vacuous boasts within about 6 weeks. So this is his best, but it may not necessarily be your favourite.
"Kanye album musically is a beast. It flows so well that u don't even know the songs are changing. I'm still on the fence about the content lol" (-@AIYO)
More of the subject matter later, though. You'll be buying this for the music, primarily. A lot of fans are going to claim that Kanye West has reinvented the wheel, or changed music forever with the release of this album. Don't believe the hype – if anything, he has refined parts of his own career, not to mention looking at formats/sequencing from alternative bands. Credit where credit is due, however: whether or not hip hop artists have created similarly paced albums, few (if any) have created one to THIS level. It is musically awesome, rich, multi-layered… simultaneously orchestral and hard as fuck, frequently on the same track ("All of the Lights").
"Honestly I have a feeling Kanye's album could be reviewed and enjoyed purely through just listening to the engineering." (-@callycalumusic)
Or "Runaway" – his stab at "universal stadium anthem" territory – which bobs and weaves over about 27 minutes (or something). It kicks off with a single piano note, incorporates lush drums, subtle synth pads, Auto Tuned outros and vicious whip snares, all mastered to within an inch of their lives. Due to the gargantuan effort put into the engineering and sequencing, the album flows together almost perfectly, even if there are a mere eleven songs (the shortest of which is over four and a half minutes long) plus interludes.
"Listened to Kanye album .... and it proved to me I'm A.D.D like a muthafucka .... them some long ass songs dog" (-@DannyTheHybrid)
This is an album that deals with excesses, but I guess Kanye has had enough practice at dealing with humungous, overblown things in his lifetime. Rick Ross pops up after four minutes on "Devil In A New Dress" and spits straight for a further ninety seconds (his verse has absolutely nothing to do with the song, of course). The guest list is insanely long, yet just about manages to stay tasteful – save for Fergie's apparent impersonation of M.I.A. on "All of the Lights" (I'm 99% sure that really is Maya, or they had to replace her; why would Fergie put on an English accent, unless she caught the Nicki Minaj virus?).
"How somebody gon tell me Fergie doesn't rap on tha FINAL version of All of the Lights? I mean I got tha full explicit album!! #fuckouttahere" (-@princeaeo)
It is also nice to welcome back the comic touch of West, which has been sadly absent for a few years now. One of the few genuinely cohesive song-writing exhibitions, "Blame Game," features a ridiculously funny outro featuring Chris Rock (recalling the good old days of Bernie Mac); "Devil In A New Dress" is as charming as it is aurally-pleasing; "Hell of a Life" is (spoiler alert!) basically "Entourage" Season 7 meets Beavis and Butthead. That track also indicates an expansion to include purely fictional songs, such as "All of the Lights," a somewhat fresh development and – by this stage, probably advisable, since his ego runs riot over the album like students at Millbank.
"#CelebrityBoxingMatch Kanye West v. Fat Joe ---> Ima go with the BX native on this one. Kanye's ego can't win him all his battles." (-@PriinceEdwiin)
Musically, we have a mixed bag, but nothing feels particularly new or genuinely innovative – it is more to do with the way they are presented to us (I'd strongly argue that Kid Cudi's recent sophomore is more purely creative). That doesn't mean that West doesn't preside over some stunning beats, though – regardless of who produced them. Some of the harder tracks have a real RZA feel to them, some that Roc soul, but there isn't really a genuinely throwback hip hop feel to most of it: it simply exists within the catch-all phrase "good music."
"All these fuckers came back from workin with Kanye in Hawaii, gushin about how the album was back to sum orig. Boom-bap shit! #yeahright" (-@handsumdevil)
Although there are many incredible assets to this album, it must be said that the subject matter isn't all too impressive – though expect his army of fans to protect his neck. As previously alluded to, it is an egotistical, maniacal nightmare vision, and (it must be said) women do not come off well on "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (either coming across as nags or slags). Sure, he'll drop the occasional line (such as the opening of "Power") but when the music is so consistently brilliant throughout, and the flows/punchlines he drops are so impressive throughout, it's just a shame that Kanye didn't extend himself conceptually on more than just two or three songs.
"I'm hearing some WILD comments about Kanye's album, some people need to calm down." (-@MALof718)
This is a really strange album. It is so impressive, in so many ways, that one could totally get swept up in already lavishing the highest of praise on it. Yes, Kanye is in such a different place now that he can't feasibly be the same guy that spit "Through the Wire" – when he says that it's "hard to be humble when you stuntin' on a jumbotron" you can begin to understand his point of view. He genuinely lives in a different stratosphere to the rest of us. Does that mean, however, that he struck the balance well on MBDTF, considering the amount of guests and his own subject matter?
"It's almost like there's not enough of Kanye himself on the album but loads of other things to keep you listening" (-@PEDRAM13)
There is so much to listen to on "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" that the replay value is off the charts, musically (you could get lost in it for an age); the interesting twists and turns will keep you engaged, especially as there are only a couple of minor mis-steps (perhaps the piano breakdown of "Devil…" could have segued into "Runaway" more fluidly); the guests do their jobs well (e.g. Nicki Minaj on her celebrated "Monster" verse, Pusha T throughout); it also has a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster feel, especially the rock-star excess of "All of the Lights" (a modern day "Victory" without the lesson in flow). This may prove to be his most influential, inimitable, watershed moment thus far, simply it terms of audacity and quality control. But should you buy this record?
"Hey man, just wanna say cash is tight for me but this payday i'm saving some for the new record. thankyou and keep going, ok? :)" (-@nazifagbot, Retweeted by @kanyewest and 35 others)
Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: November 16th, 2010