Kanye West has had a unique music career... a very, very unique music career. From his classic hip hop roots with 2004's The College Dropout and 2005's Late Registration, to a more defined, sample-based sound with 2007's Graduation, and finally 2008's controversial 808s & Heartbreak, 'Ye has gone through quite the transformation. The man has certainly made a name for himself as a personality and a rule breaker, and his highly anticipated My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy takes staples of the hip hop genre and completely flips it on its head. Kanye is clearly out to redeem himself as an influence on our generations' pop culture.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye's most ambitious project to date, with some of the biggest names in the industry backing him up. The amount of care and time that has been put into 'Ye's beautiful, dark, twisted masterpiece is unimaginable, giving the impression that he wants this album to stand out above the rest for a long time. Even his "Runaway" short film is incredibly unique and impressionable, with Kanye's dedication apparent throughout the whole 35-minute film. This ambitious arrogance could only work coming from Mr. West, but is his newest album a masterpiece that will go down in pop culture history?
Welcome to Kanye West's world. The album opens with "Dark Fantasy," with Nicki Minaj's spoken introduction giving us an idea of what we're in for with the rest of the album. Following her intro, the immediate onslaught of musical majesty that is "Dark Fantasy" never holds up until the moment "Who Will Survive in America" brings the album to a close; this album is something special.
The sheer insanity of guest appearances on this album is what gives it the unique flavour and insane quality that Kanye was going for. Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, Raekwon, Nicki Minaj, Elton John, Dwele, Bon Iver, John Legend, and so many more; 'Ye has gathered some of the biggest names in music to back him up this time. The perfect example of this is the ambitious "All of the Lights," which features Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend, The-Dream, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, and Elly Jackson. This might sound like an absolute mess, but each person holds their place perfectly overtop of an epic horn score. It all comes together to make one of the most complex-yet-amazing tracks on the album.
One song that everyone knows by now is "Runaway," which West debuted at the VMA's earlier this year. The version that appears on the album is a 9-minute epic that is the centrepiece of 'Ye's masterpiece. The simple, ethereal piano loop creates the perfect backdrop for Kanye to belt out the faults of his personality as well as a slick verse from Pusha T. It all comes together to create an emotional track that pushes the boundaries of hip hop. The lyrics in this song explicitly say that he rarely takes work off, but the work that Kanye put into this album, his G.O.O.D. Friday releases, and his "Runaway" film deserves incredible amounts of praise; the man is dedicated to what he does.
The rest of the album's tracks compliments these two powerhouses amazingly well, and who would've thought you could actually follow-up "Runaway?" "Hell of a Life" is the answer to that. The song gives us an upbeat flow and a chorus in the style of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." Kid Cudi and Raekwon back up 'Ye to give us another one of the album's highlights, "Gorgeous," and Wu-tang's RZA brings some classic hip hop flavour to the album with "So Appalled." Justin Vernon of Bon Iver brings his unique voice to both "Lost in the World" and "Monster," while John Legend's soulful combination of voice and piano carries "Blame Game."
What makes Kanye so unique in the hip hop world is his ability to blend emotion into his lyrics, which is very uncommon throughout the genre. "Runaway" is a great example of this, but "Blame Game" and "So Appalled" bring Kanye's innermost thoughts to the forefront. He takes the content found on 808s & Heartbreak, which many were not a fan of, but blends it with the ambitious musical style that he has been perfecting for the last year.
It is hard to believe that this album actually accomplishes what Kanye has worked so hard to achieve. His dark, beautiful, twisted fantasy proves that it deserves to go down as a masterpiece of our generation, a landmark in hip hop and music in general. The unbelievable production value, the innumerable guest appearances, the overall style, and the hard work and care that Kanye put into this album make it a near-flawless work of art. He may not be the best rapper in the world, but he is a fantastically complex lyricist and uses that to his advantage. He combines this with a refreshingly revolutionary musical vision that changes the ways we should think about hip hop and where this genre is going. Kanye West is back and he is leading the charge for a new generation of hip hop.
Download: The whole f***in' album!