Monday, November 15, 2010

KanYe - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

How do you write a review for an album that hasn't been officially
released and has already been reviewed by anyone and everyone-two-three? The praise being heaped upon Kanye West's newest album endangers inflating his massive ego to astronomical proportions...that is, if it wasn't already on that level.

My personal affection for 'Ye/Yeezy/Kanye/et al. runs all the way back to circa 2005 in between College Dropout and Late Registration. In fact, I even reviewed Graduation waaaay back in 2007. Before all of his public relations nightmares. Before the slight detour with 808's and Heartbreak (pretty sure I'm in the 2% of people that actually enjoyed that album). Before the most entertaining Twitter feed ever created.

Look, I understand if you don't like the guy as a person, mainly because he's said and done some stupid, stupid stuff. But, he's never been put in jail for carrying around a cache of weapons or drugs or dead hookers. It's the fact that it seems like the guy has no inner-monologue, no filter for his thoughts that makes you despise him. And he's a ratings/media goldmine; people love controversy, and there aren't many artists that have the name recognition or global reach as Kanye does. No matter what he's saying or doing.

With all that being said, the guy produces great track after great track. If he didn't have any talent he would have been a has-been five years ago. In addition, there aren't more than five or so
artists in a any genre that I still go to Best Buy to buy the physical CD. Does he need the money at this point? Hellz no. But every track you can literally hear how much time and effort went into crafting the song. The beats, the samples, the strings, the lyrics, the arrangements. All of it while pushing the boundaries that he has helped create. Just when you think you've heard him at his limit, he goes in a different direction to the Nth degree. He's actually an artist, (I know people throw the word around and think it's even weirder to call a hip-hop MC/producer one) just think about it. You may not like the music, but he's taking risks, being creative, trying new things, taking old things and making the seem new. The musical world is his grab-bag of ideas. And the way
he can pull out seemingly disparate musical ideas and put them together without sounding gimmicky is truly unique.

One of the best examples of this is the second to last track called
"Lost In The World". It begins with an identical sample of Bon Iver's "Woods". Which, if you're not familiar was on Bon Iver's Blood Bank - EP (2009) and begins with him (Justin Vernon) singing solo with the help of auto tune. Kanye let's the tape roll for about the first ~50 seconds without any alterations. Then the auto tune bends a little more and cuts off, and there's this great moment of tension where you know something is going to happen and then this propulsive techno-dance beat drops in and
kicks you in the face to make your head nod for the next 3+ minutes. It's similar to Kanye pairing with Chris Martin, but even more random because Bon Iver is by no means a household name when compared to Coldplay.

Kanye is truly an artist who you want desperately to separate from his public persona but it's impossible. His persona is part of what helps him make such awesome music. It's also what adds fuel to the fire. Just be thankful that you get to listen to the music at all, and hopeful that he pulls out something even cooler than his performances on SNL ("Power" and "Runaway") and the VMA's for the next Grammy's in February.