Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West is a straight up polarizing figure. He's classic in his approach, and is the only true hip hop artist who at this point is making his mistakes and shout outs and is human because of it. He feels things and shows it in his music, that's something hip hop lacks is the definition of being human. Like him or not, the guy is talented and has topped Hova as the king, if Graduation didn't do that, "Fantasy" does. To call it the best "hip hop" album in years doesn't do it justice, after all is said and done, it'll be thought of as one of the best albums of all time. Hip hop hasn't seen a powerful force of an album like this since Jay-Z dropped "The Blueprint", and that was nearly a decade ago.

So what makes the album so great? It's a huge question that offers many answers. Kanye has stepped up his flow big time, delivering angry and raw verses that showcase why we fell in love with him in the first place. The production on the album is of the best in years too thanks to 'Ye and a super team of producers including RZA and the latest superstar and "total package" Lex Luger. The album's only flaw, the overkill of guest spots on this album.

Unfortunately, the album's two weakest tracks feature guest spots up the ass and are back to back. "All of the Lights" gets off to a horrid start with Rhianna crooning, she has a poor voice to begin with and weakens the track which also feautres Fergie and Elton John, it's a suckfest of a song followed by a more ridiculous song in "Monster". "Monster" is a hit or miss affair for most listeners. It's a pissing contest between Mr. West, Jay-Z, Rick Ross who probably deserved more than his small bit and the queen of all that is unholy and annoying, Nicki Minaj. Miss Minaj has marked 2010 with numerous appearances, each more scating than the last, none more hopeless and unlistenable than her verse on "Monster" switching back vocal styles ranging from a challanged kid to a budget M.I.A.. It's safe to say without both these songs, this album is perfect.

"Dark Fantasy" and "Gorgeous" open the album in style and serve as what to expect. Hot beats with West spitting about him being unsure but not apologizing, he's made mistakes, we all have, he also talks a large amount of shit, but he's one of the few artists that has a body of work and talent that can back it up. Both songs serve as a great start to the album's first centerpiece of "Power".

To call "Power" is great song is too little praise. It's quite possibly the best hip hop song ever written and the best song this year by far, it's not even close. What makes it such a striking song is the delivery and focus that West puts into it. Surely he's not backing down and he lets us know. Ranging from subject from SNL to his hiatus to becoming hip hop's enemy of the state, West is letting us know it's not cramping his style, in fact, every damn thing he's been through since releasing 808's has probably strengthen someone who already was the cream of the crop. The song also has a beefy beat and a King Crimson sample. There's no shortage of emotion and heart into this song. It's West's finest hour as an emcee, and this guy wrote "Amazing", "Diamonds", and "Stronger".

The other centerpiece of the album is "Runaway", it's the king bee of a bottom heavy album. With it's modest piano and introspective lyrics, it's a nine minute titan of a song that ranks up there with the best songs he's written. Songs like "Power", "Runaway" and the Aphex Twin sapled "Blame Game" show Kanye isn't just an ordinary rapper, he's a musician, he's an artist and a very important one of this generation. We can only hope moving into a new decade where he dominated the last one, Kanye West will continue to lay cans of whomp ass to anyone who comes near him.

This isn't an ordinary hip hop album, it's probably the first of its kind which can be called a "Art Rap" album. This is a work of art, this is a masterpiece as much as "Fear of a Black Planet" is, as much as "The Marshall Mathers LP" is, as much as "The Blueprint" is, hell as much as "Kid A" is. If we're comparing here, let's say "The Blueprint" is hip hop's "Is This It", both are albums marked by their work ethic and sound of the best the 70's had to offer. So that would make "Fantasy" hip hop's "Kid A". Like "Kid A", this album shows that a savior of a genre could tear down all he was and come back with an even better version of himself. Both albums pushed just how far you could take music into being popular. You don't have to write songs, you can still make albums that you can listen to from start to finish, you can still create works of art that polarize and are thought provoking. There's a reason every critic is getting behind it. It hasn't just restored faith in hip hop, but music in general. We finally have an artist with as much popularity and smarts as West who isn't being lazy and is pushing the lmits and is creating something we never could've expected, and boy does it sound good.

**** 1/2 out of *****

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