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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Don’t be foolish, no one like Kanye West.

I’m not so sure Kanye West likes Kanye West.

Sometimes I feel West backs himself into a corner on purpose just so he can entertain himself to find out how he’ll get out of whatever controversy he’s in. How else can you explain “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” “Beyonce had the best video of all-time,” or “Coldplay is better than The Beatles.”

I don’t know if Bush cares about black people. I’m guessing he does. Whites too. Beyonce didn’t have the best video of all-time, it was actually very stupid and no one is better than The Beatles. So Kanye, cut it out.

If he opens his mouth, it’s controversial.

Luckily, he opens his mouth on the microphone in the studio, which is really, the only time he should ever exercise his jaw.

So don’t be foolish. No one like West’s personality, but his music is a whole other ball game.

Monday, West will release his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which follows up his experimental album, 808’s and Heartbreak released two years ago.

By now, everyone knows about West — his rants, his child-like tantrums and his various poorly-timed outbursts. Following storming the stage at the 2009 MTV Music Awards during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, West sort of fell off the face of the earth.

I think for the first time in West’s career, he had begun to realize how much an egotistical jerk he really was.

While keeping out of the public eye for a good while, he began penning My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The first single “Power,” was released on the internet months ago. He doesn’t address the Swift incident once on the album directly, nor does he offer any type of direct apology to anyone. But it's clear he understands the damage he has done to his reputation throughout the past few years.

“I embody every characteristic of the egotistic
‘He know, he so, (expletive) gifted’
I just needed time alone with my own thoughts
Got treasures in my mind, but couldn’t open up my own vault
My childlike creativity, purity and honesty
Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts
Reality is catching up with me
Taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody
But these responsibilities that they entrust in me
As I look down at my diamond-encrusted piece thinking
No one man should have all that power
The clock’s ticking, I just count the hours
Stop tripping I’m tripping off the power
21st Century Schizoid Man.”

And on “Runaway” you better believe he’s talking about himself when he says “let’s have a toast for the scumbags,” and a toast for many other uninviting adjectives that I cannot type on this website to describe himself before telling listeners to “runaway as fast as you can.”

But nevermind about Kanye West as a person, its his music that I’m judging right now and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy may be West’s best work to date.

It’s a very non-traditional, non-radio friendly album that comes off so unexpected and so unpredictable compared to any of his previous work or really, any other artist out there today.

Five of the 13 tracks are at least six minutes long. Most of the others are well over five minutes. Just when you think the song is over, another chorus, or another verse unexpectedly appears (“Dark Fantasy,” “Devil in a New Dress,” “So Appalled”).

The beats are incredible as almost every song uses piano, keyboards or guitars. Even Elton John has his own guest spot, playing the keys on “ All of the Lights.” (But then again, who doesn’t have a guest spot on “All of the Lights” as the track also features Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Fergie, The Dream, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Tony Williams and Elly Jackson. I guess my invitation got lost in the mail.)

When I first saw the track listing to this album, I was worried with the extensive length of most of the songs as well as the guest appearances but the album works out flawlessly.

“So Appalled” is absolutely haunting with guest vocals from Swiss Beatz, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi and The RZA. Although there are six guys on the track, it never feels too crowded. The piano loop on “Blame Game” is equally as impressive, even when comedian Chris Rock is talking over the beat for the final three minutes, quite explicitly hilariously, you can’t help but keeps your ears pinned on the soft, mellow sound of the piano playing in the background. It's beautiful.

West has succeeded in making his album beautiful, dark and twisted. He has completely dusted off all the dirt that has been thrown on his name with this album.

He could have made an album full of self-pity, begging for forgiveness, claiming he’s misunderstood, misguided or misrepresented, but instead he makes an album that’s honest, straight forward and has an I am who I am type-of-feel so take it or leave it.

When everyone wanted him to address all the controversy he has caused, when everyone expected to hear some sort of apology or what he has been doing since last year’s MTV Music Awards, he offers what he could have done on the opening track, “Dark Fantasy”:

“The plan was to drink until the pain over
but what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?”

Don’t ever for one minute expect Kanye West to change who he is and musically speaking, that’s a good thing. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is absolutely incredible from the production, to the lyrics, to the performances and will be talked about for a long, long time. It's a musical journey, an experience to listen to.

Simply put, it's the best album of Kanye West's career.

-By Nick Carrabine


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