Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
3.5 stars out of 5
It’s taken me so long to write this review because Kanye West is a dense, egotistic, melodramatic, complex, multi-faceted, and overall megalomanic person — and this all makes for fascinating music and art. You have to be in a certain mood and mindset in order to fully digest and appreciate a Kanye West project. I use the word project because there are so many different dimensions to what Kanye does; musically, visually, thematically, and even spatially. This is my short attempt to share my thoughts with you on this project.
Overall, upon first listen, you find yourself lost for words, and gravitating towards the songs that seem most coherent and easily palatable (and even that is a stretch for some folks I’d imagine) — which in this case are the singles “Power” and “Monster”, and MAYBE “Runaway”, though I doubt that LOL. But see, that right there is your first pitfall. Kanye’s an albums artist if there ever was one. YOU MUST digest this project on the whole for it to really make sense and flow.
Kanye spins his real-life moods and realities into a sound “picture” if you will — a medium that is a universal language. You may not understand his antics, his pratfalls, his gaffes, or his high-profile blunders; but you can understand a banging beat, a quirky line, a well spun metaphor, and a guest verse from some of your favorite artists and musicans of the moment present and past. And that is the genius of Kanye’s music & mind. I’d hate to live in Kanye’s mind even for a mere moment. The chaos and cacophony of all that he must think every moment of the day must be staggering, because even digesting it in the past couple of albums has taken me some time.
WIthout going into all the guest appearances and whatnot, my personal favorites from the album are “All Of The Lights” because of the sheer epicness of the guests list and Elton John; “Power”, in its almost maniacal pace at times and the impassioned yet plain delivery of the 3rd verse; “Monster” for the sheer audacity of Nicki Minaj coming along and wresting the spotlight from such rhymers as Jay-Z and Kanye himself (yet still not outshining the main man himself); “Devil In A New Dress” for its subtle yet overt imagery and audio enticements; “Blame Game” for its simple yet plaintive sounding piano plucks and the “outro” of the track in which Kanye somehow manages yet again to be amusing via Chris Rock and the simple line “Yeezy taught me”; and lastly, “Lost In The World”, which with the help of Bon Iver and the other cast of assorted characters, Kanye crafts a galloping, frantic, and imperiled sense of feeling that you are losing your soul to his inner mindscapes if you don’t escape now.
Kanye frequently drops gems that have already entered the pop lexicon on this album, and yet also manages to make Charlie Wilson relevant again as a vocalist. He also is prone to grand orchestral movements, epic aural moments, and long outros, but honestly, if Kanye doesn’t bring classical music, ballerinas, and old almost forgotten 80′s vocalists into the mainstream concious once again, who will?