Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Album Review
Who knew Kanye West could be so humble?
Say what you will about his between album antics — the Brittney Spears outbursts, the Grammy tantrums, the Taylor Swift incident — but when it matters most, when it comes to his music, all self-centeredness is dismissed for the greater mission. He dismissed it on Late Registration by bringing on legendary composer Jon Brion as co-producer, elevating The College Dropout’s Hip Hop violins to full orchestral arrangements. He dismissed it on Graduation by bringing on producers Mike Dean and DJ Toomp and on 808s & Heartbreak by bringing on producer/song writer Jeff Bhasker (along with Auto-Tune lessons from T-Pain) to fulfill his visions. Now, for his fourth studio album, he enlists more assistance than ever, trapping the talents of No I.D., Rza, Mike Dean, Jeff Bhasker, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Pusha T, Rick Ross and then some in his Hawaiian hideaway, honing in on the sound of his most ambitious LP yet, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It takes humility to ask for help and Yeezy reached out to all-time greats. The album credits alone read like amendments to congressional legislation.
At 1.1 hours in length, MBDTF is long and loaded with angelic choirs and layers of cascading intonations. It’s a dark celebration igniting a steady stream of political commentary, introspection and ass shaking — a trait synonymous with ‘Ye since his “Jesus Walks” days. “Hey teacher teacher / Tell me how you respond to students / And refresh the page and restart the memory / Re-spark the soul and rebuild the energy / Re-stop the ignorance / re-kill the enemy”, he kicks Pusha T-style over “Dark Fantasy”’s airy orchestration and Rza assisted hopping keys and plodding bass line. “They just stole your dreams / You don’t know who did it / I treat the cash like the government treats AIDS / I won’t be satisfied until all of my n***** get it / Get it?”, he delivers on the brooding, Raekwon featured “Gorgeous”, easily the LPs most foreboding offering. Over “All Of The Light”’s relentless drums and triumphant horns he wields his Young Jeezy flow to tackle the complications of separation:
“Restraining order / I can’t see my daughter / Her mother, brother, grand mother hate me in that order / Public visitation / We met at Borders / Told her if she take me back / I’ll be more supportive / I made mistakes / I bump my head / Court sucked me dry / I spent that bread / She needs her daddy / Baby please / Can’t let her grow up in that Ghetto University”
Stacked posse cuts “Monster” and “So Appalled” still thump despite their G.O.O.D. Friday release nearly two months ago and featuring eight different guest appearances collectively — a near miraculous feat considering the here-today-gone-today nature of the internet and the rarity of top shelf collaborations where no one falls short. The hazy “Devil In A New Dress” with it’s sublime Smokey Robinson sample and soulful electric strings feels like a conquering objection to gold diggers undermined only by a Rick Ross verse that strays completely off topic. On the flip side, Pusha T and the addition of hollowed Rick James chops and extended instrumentals lift Kanye’s ode to douchebaggery, “Runaway”, to anthemic heights while remaining firmly rooted in Hip Hop — a mashup producing the most ubiquitous track on the album, guaranteeing spins from now through Spring Break.
Even the paradigm shifts are pristine. “No more drugs for me / P*ssy and religion is all I need”, Yeezy kicks on “Hell Of A Life”, a futuristic force of fornication complete with moving orchestras and the “Iron Man” melody where Kanye describes how he “fell in love with a porn star”. “On the bathroom wall I wrote that I would rather argue with you than to be with someone else”, he delivers on the soulful “Blame Game” (featuring John Legend), aptly addressing the love / hate paradox of scorned relationships.
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