Album Review: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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When you’re dealing with Kanye West, you never know what to expect.  Yes, he consistently makes quality music, but much like his label mate, KiD CuDi, his actions are frequently controversial, if not questionable, and often overshadow his music.  Having at least two classic albums under his belt, not to mention a myriad of unforgettable productions, Kanye West has solidified his name amongst Hip Hop’s elite.  Promising a list of producers that never made the cut, many were expecting Kanye to take us back to ’90s on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  While that may indeed be the case, Kanye is an artist that has evolved far beyond the norm and into chameleon of sorts, capable of making hits while maintaining his rhyming ability.

To some extent, Kanye produced every track featured on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with the exception of the “Devil in a New Dress.”  However, Yeezy did not skimp on co-producers, enlisting mentor No I.D., RZA, Mike Dean, and Emile, just to name a few.  “Dark Fantasy” is an example of the vintage RZA production absent from 8 Diagrams.  Sounding similar to the GZA classic, “4th Chamber,” “Dark Fantasy” is as much of a Kanye production as a RZA instrumental for the interloping of Mike Ordfield’s “In High Places.”  Those who have closely followed Kanye since College Dropout (2004) or before, must have realized that Kanye is the definitive producer in the rap game.  He does more than make beats; he brings in full scale choirs and orchestras, directing them in each instance until they meet the sound he has envisioned.  Getting to the lyrics, Kanye hasn’t faltered and if anything he has gone beyond his typical repertoire, more lyrical and more charismatic than ever (“the plan was to drink until the pain over/but what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?/fresh air, rolling down the window/too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your wins low“).  “Gorgeous” utilizes a sonically impressive sample of The Turtles’ and a live electric guitar cleverly combined with KiD CuDi’s ode to the Smokey Robinson’s classic “Cruisin.'”  Remarkably opening his second verse, Kanye, asserts, “is Hip Hop just a euphemism for a new religion/the soul music of the slaves that the youth is missin/but this is more than my road to redemption/Malcolm West has the whole nation standing at attention.”  Yeezy goes on to show his brilliant sense of humor, adding, “choke a South Park writer with a fish stick.”  With his voice distorted, Raekwon jumps on “Gorgeous” with a tremendous cameo, proving he too hasn’t lost a step.  At this point, Kanye transitions into the lead single, “POWER.”  It’s notable that Kanye sampled King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” because he minamally flipped it in a manner that most wouldn’t think of; mainly keeping the drums in line beside the obvious vocal sample.  “POWER” once again demonstrates ‘Ye’s humor as he lashes out at Saturday Night Live, spitting, “fuck SNL and the whole cast, tell ’em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass/more specifically, they can kiss my ass whole.”


When Kanye issued some choice words for bloggers after an unfinished version of “All the Lights” leaked, few could accurately speculate how the end result would sound.  The five minute long track featuring Rihanna is a spectacle of sound; poppy in its own right, but stunning nonetheless.  Kanye goes on to drop two G.O.O.D. Friday tracks (“Monster” and “So Appalled“) both of which highlight Kanye and rappers such as Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and CyHi Da PrynceJay-Z shows that he is back to true form, with impeccable verses on each song.  If Bink! wasn’t credited on “Devil in a New Dress,” it’s likely that many would perceive that Kanye produced the song himself.  Once again, Kanye brings a lively electric guitar into the mix that’s as smooth as his delivery.  The extended cut of “Runaway” is slightly excessive, as it stands at an epic nine minutes long, three of which are a guitar solo.  Those searching for a throwback sound will find it here though, Kanye so elegantly samples the thirteen second drumbreak at the begging of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’sthe Basement.”  It leads perfectly into the methodically thought-out “Hell of a Life,” which features ‘Ye crooning the hook to the tune of “Iron Man.”  “Blame Game” is another exemplary production on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, touching on breakups and love lost.  MBDTF ends on an anti-climatic note with the off-putting “Lost in the World” and its coinciding outro.  The former is over-produced doesn’t particuarly demand replay.


A mere thirteen tracks in length (two of which are interludes), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy stands up to Kanye West’s previous bodies of work, some of which contain over twenty tracks.  My Beatufiul Dark Twisted Fantasy is the same old Kanye we know in love; at times more refined lyrically although less soulful with his instrumentals.  Kanye West is indeed a perfectionist with a vision whose brilliance is often overlooked at egotism.  Undeniably redeeming himself to all those who bashed 808s & Heartbreaks, Kanye proves once again that he cannot lose.

Purchase My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on iTunes


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