Monday, November 29, 2010

Album Review: Kanye West's Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

My friend Travis asked me what I thought of Kanye West’s new album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and this is my assessment in short:

“More sexually and racially charged than previous stuff. Too many appearances by other artists and not enough Kanye (I’d say only 60% of the album is him). Lacks but 1 or 2 songs you can truly dance to so I doubt it will get lots of club play. 1 reference to South Park fishsticks episode. The way the samples are mixed in can seem choppy and amateurish at times. I like it but not as much as either of the past two albums”

However, to shake off the rust of a nice relaxing Thanksgiving break, I decided to write up a formal review for the blog. I fully expect this to become my most viewed post, so those of you who are new here, this isn’t my best work, nor what the blog usually consists of. Music is a hobby, sports is the job.

Title: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

The album was originally supposed to be called “Good Ass Job”, which I like much more, this title is an accurate description of the music that lies within. As a matter of fact, you can pretty much classify every song as one of those adjectives and I will as we move on. I can’t help but wonder if Kanye’s self confidence is waning. “Good Ass Job” just seems like it’d be right up his alley. Seriously, he title is irrelevant, let’s move on.

Track 1: Dark Fantasy

Classification: Beautiful

Best Lyric: See Description Below

The intro harmonies (Auto tuned or not) sung by the chorus are very pleasing to listen to. You won’t get sick of listening to them. As soon as the beat drops in you know that Kanye has had his fun playing with the auto tuner and has now gone back to the straight rapping that made him famous. Kanye delivers what will undoubtedly be the most quoted lyric from the album on this track, “too many Urkels on your team that’s why your Winslow.” I bet more people already have heard that line than have heard the song. I like this song and wouldn’t be surprised if it was released as a single at some point down the road.

Track 2: Gorgeous

Classification: Dark

Best Lyric: “Choke a South Park Writer with a Fish stick”

Classic Kanye venting about all the shit he puts up with and how his blackness is repressed by the man. Nobody makes you wear those polos, Kanye. Try to rap about how shitty you have it next time you hop in your inevitably sweet ass car. The way Kanye takes a shot at the South Park writers is exactly the reason they made fun of him in the first place. He takes himself way too seriously. He’s lucky the season is over and they can’t strike back with a 30 minute blitzkrieg to his 8 word jab. The guitar riff that comprises the primary portion of the track gets repetitive. This one’s not terrible but I wouldn’t recommend buying this track on ITunes or anything.

Track 3: Power

Classification: Beautiful

Best Lyric: “Fuck SNL and the whole cast. Tell ‘em Yezzy said they can
kiss my whole ass. More specifically they can kiss my asshole. I’m an asshole? You niggas got jokes.”

Everyone’s heard this one by now. This song kicks ass. The tribal sounding intro with the siren and everything is adrenaline inducing. Kanye’s shot at SNL is funny but ironic, because he performed this song on SNL in October of this year. This song speaks for itself, go listen to it and make it your goddamn ringtone.

Track 4/5: All of the Lights

Classification: Beautiful

Best Lyric: : “I slapped my girl” Didn’t Kanye know Rihanna would be
singing the hook on this track when he wrote it?

This might be my favorite track from the album. The intro is awesome, mixing strings, piano and horns all in one masterful section. Rihanna’s voice suits the song perfectly. I could have done without the pulsating bongos (I’m not even totally sure what kind of drums they are) that you hear in the heavier parts of the song but I’m nit picking now. Go listen to this one, but try to find a version with the interlude latched onto the beginning.

Track 6: Monster

Classification: Twisted

Best Lyric: “My presence is a present kiss my ass”

The beat is strange and cool, emphasis on the strange. There are weird noises…just…weird. Kanye’s flow (I’m white, am I allowed to say flow? Okay, good) is flawless. He doesn’t leave himself much time to inhale and you can hear him gasp several times during the song. I bet this song kicks ass live. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of this album’s biggest flaw: Feat. This has a bunch of artists that aren’t Kanye. Which is fine every now and then, but the album as a whole and this song especially, has too many other artists. One of these is something called “Nicky Minaj”. I don’t get it. This one’s a keeper though.

Track 7: So Appalled

Classification: Dark

Best Lyric: “Unlike Hammer, 30 million can’t hurt me” –Jay-Z

Jay-Z steals the show on this one and I didn’t want to talk about anyone but Kanye in this review but his performance on this song is relatively unimpressive. This song is another example of overuse your buddies for verses in your rap songs. The “hook” (if you can call it that) comes from Swizz Beats and the way it’s mixed into the songs is choppy and shitty and amateurish. As far as I know, this wasn’t sampled from another song or anything so it was recorded for the purpose of use in this song. Why then, does it sound like it was done in someone’s garage? The supporting track is cool though.

Track 8: Devil in a New Dress

Classification: Twisted

Best Lyric: “I hit the Jamaican spot, at the bar, take a seat I ordered you jerk; she said "you are what you eat”

This is your standard, mid-album, Kanye song. Nothing to write home about but a decent song to listen to. The video for this song (which I’m not sure is official or anything) is really weird featuring who I think is Beyonce dressed as some human-bird hybrid. Whatever, I’d totally do Beyonce. I’m pretty sure I could kick Jay-Z’s pudgy ass 1 on 1. The song lacks musical variety, comprised of the same beat throughout. Not a must listen but not detrimental to the album.

Track 9: Runaway

Classification: Twisted

Best Lyric: The entire hook, don’t act like you don’t love it

The song is built around the chorus which prompts us to have a toast for douche bags and assholes the world over. Unfortunately, there little else in the song worth noting, other than the album’s second Legend of Sleepy Hollow reference. I like the hook enough that I won’t skip this track in the car, but it overrates the rest of the track.

Track 10: Hell of a Life

Classification: Dark

Best Lyric: “No more drugs for me. Pussy and religion is all I need.”

One of the few traditionally structured, verse-hook-verse-hook –rinse-repeat songs on the album. The hook is a callback to Black Sabbath’s Iron Man and the haunting piano arpeggios immediately thereafter are my favorite part of the song. I like this song a lot but sadly, it displays more shitty producing. When you go listen to the song, notice how that aforementioned piano arpeggio just sort of disappears? Doesn’t that sound like shit? Fade that shit out.

Track 11: Blame Game

Classification: Beautiful

Best Lyric: “You weren’t perfect but you made life worth it.” Amen, Kanye

More heavy piano use. As far as lyrics go (and keep in mind, lyrics normally matter very little to me) this one is the most personal and heavy track on the album. I feel Kanye’s pain and regret when I listen to the song. I don’t know if he’s speaking from personal experience or not but he’s good enough on this track to at least make me ask the question. The song would be worth listening to for Chris Rock’s cameo alone, but it is complete and well rounded. Total keeper.

Track 12/13: Lost in the World/Who Will Survive in America?

Classification: Beautiful

Best Lyric: “I’m Lost in the World” Aren’t we all

This one opens with harmonies as well, this time clearly auto tuned. The beat drops in and Kanye has a verse, his only of the song. There’s not much to say about the first part of this song because there’s not much to it. What is there, however, sounds good. When the track turns over, we get a speech from Gil Scott Heron’s “Comment #1”. It’s racially charged. I’d break it down and analyze it but its 11:30 and I’d like to get this up before most of you sign off Facebook for the night so let’s conclude things here. Go listen to the album its pretty good.

Here’s a cool YouTube video of most of the stuff Kanye sampled to make the album:

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