Originally posted at The Well Versed
No matter how you feel about Kanye West, you must admit that he keeps the game interesting. Since exploding into the national international stream of pop culture conscious with his debut LP, 2004’s “The College Dropout,” West found a way to keep himself relevant—by any means necessary. In 2005, he uttered the now infamous famous phrase, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during an telethon to aid Hurricane Katrina victims. While slammed in much of the press, the utterance gave voice to a disaffected, dejected and frustrated generation.
While West has had a number of low lights that garnered press (Taylor Swift anyone?), his artistry has never suffered as a result of the antics. Sped up soul samples that highlighted his debut gave way to the “stadium status” big sounding records that dominated 2007’s “Graduation.” Which brings us Ye’s latest release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Simply put, the album plays like a rollercoaster ride through the triumphs and tragedies of Kanye’s career with the 13 track set playing out like a beautifully crafted, yet dark ride through the manic mind of Mr. West.
With an album heavy on guest appearances, Fantasy plays like the album West wanted to make at the beginning of his career. In just about every interview with a young producer, a journalist hurls the following question: “So who would you like to work with?” West answers that question, working with everyone from big brother Jay-Z to Elton John. While artists have been blasted and had their albums shredded by critics for relying on too many guest appearances, West coaxes some stellar performances from his co-pilots—and that’s what ultimately makes the album what it is.
The unlikely pairing of Kid Cudi and Raekwon flow nicely with West’s vocals on the guitar heavy “Gorgeous.” On the track, West defiantly flips the bird to his detractors, rhyming: “I’m coming after whoever, who has it/You blowing up, that’s good, fantastic…/I don’t really give a f-ck about it at all/Cause the same people that tried to black ball me/Forgot about two things, my black balls.” Lead single “Runaway” finds West toasting “douchebags” and “assholes” while taking Pusha T away from rhymes about flipping birds and into the territory of love gone wrong. West’s honesty on this track—addressing nude pictures that ironically found their way to the Internets after the song was released—is refreshing. Where nude photos have sent other artists into hiding, West meets the potential scandal head on, effectively killing any momentum a would be story would have.
Elsewhere on the album, Kanye brings out what might be one of the best verses ever delivered by Nicki Minajon “Monster.” Sharing a song with Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver, Minaj marries her new personality with the old, hard spitting Nicki opens up fast and furiuss, “Yeah I’m in that Tonka, color of Willy Wonka/You could be the King but watch the Queen conquer/Ok first things first I’ll eat your brains/Then I’ma start rocking gold teeth and fangs/Cause that’s what a mutha f-cking monster do.” A hungry Jay-Z returns, riding alongsideRza, Pusha T, Sy Hi Da Prince and Swizz Beatz for the posse cut, “So Appalled.” The track plays like a cypher, with each MC trying to one up the previous verse.
The album’s true gems come at the middle and end of the album respectively. “All Of The Lights” is destined to captivate sold out arenas worldwide. With 11 collaborators listed, Kanye draws on a powerful hook fromRihanna who gets a vocal assist from a diverse crew of crooners from Elton John and Fergie to The-Dreamand Alicia Keys. Later on, fellow GOOD Music label mate John Legend links up with West for “Blame Game.” The seven-plus minute love/hate ballad is led by a somber piano melody from Legend and capped by a hilarious monologue from Chris Rock. Anybody who’s ever been in a relationship they had no business being in will instantly relate to this one.
At times, West’s rhymes fall short, but the production and guest appearances do more than keep this album afloat. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” soars and it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a classic album this year.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5