Perusing the usual blog suspects, the consensus on “Love Lockdown” seems to be that it’s an awesomely bizarre failure of Edsel proportion. Douglas penned an entire post attacking rappers for their unhealthy reliance on auto-tune, (a trend I’m usually ready to condemn.) The rest largely seemed stuck on some, “b..b..but where’s the rapping?”
Honestly though, Kanye was never that good at rapping in the first place. What made him stand-out was his awesome sense of musicality and dedication to craft. Listening to “Love Lockdown,” his furthest foray into R&B yet, reminds me of an old John Lennon quote that I’m horifically paraphrasing:
“I’m a musician. That’s what I do. I don’t know how to play a tuba but if you gave one to me, I’d figure out how to make it work.”
That’s not to compare Kanye to John Lennon (other than their bloated egos). However, Kanye can’t really sing, sounds pretty stupid on auto-tune (I didn’t even know it was possible to be off-beat on the stupid thing), and still, somehow made this interesting. I hear a lot of Rockwell and Cameo in “Love Lockdown,” partially for the way in which its funk is leadened by a moody paranoia, partially because I think Kanye is halfway to wearing codpieces.
Do I think this is Kanye’s best single ever? No. But it’s good and more importantly, it’s wildly original and takes a massive risk. In a genre filled by hackneyed imitators, Kanye’s continually trying to innovate and clearly doesn’t give a flying fuck what any of us think. And even if there’s no rapping involved, that’s pretty hip-hop.
MP3: Kanye West-“Love Lockdown”