November 22, 2010

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I’d been avoiding getting caught up in the hype surrounding this thing in the goal to listen to it as a whole and to see how I feel about it as a complete album. Since dude thinks he’s a world-class artist making some genius shit, I figured I’d rate him to his desired standards: harshly and mercilessly based on the full record as he conceived it.

To be honest, I was ready to tear into My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but despite it’s masturbatory song-lengths, overcooked sense of self-importance and the fact that it’s made by a man who’s evolved into one of the most annoying celebrities of all time (of all time!)…This is a great album.

More so, I think this may be the single most coked out record in the history of rap music. I don’t believe for one second that Yeezy has quit drugs. As Jeff said, all the signs are there: excessive song lengths, crystal-sheen production, Bowie in 76 occultism, Prince in 88 style grandiosity, Queen at any time histrionics, Pusha T guest spots, pointless guitar solos…there was more powder involved in the making of this thing than a Johnson & Johnson’s commercial.

That said, I’m finding myself enjoying it for what it is. Ridonkulous has never been more apropos. Unlike many, my favorite moments are the posse cuts as I find it collapses under its own weight when Ye’ is left solo. He’s EXTREMELY good at distilling what makes rappers interesting and getting rid of the rest though: from using Game and Jeezy’s voices for hooks and adlibs alone to having Jamie Foxx impersonate Ray Charles instead of singing in his usual boring-ass voice to grabbing Weezy, Nicki and Lupe for guest spots right when their popularity was about to blow…he’s extremely good at using the talent around him.

On the other hand, I find his solo raps about women and fame…boring. It’s like, “yeah dealing with chicks sucks, can’t live with em’ can’t live without em. Cool story bro”. Listening to those tunes is like listening to your friend get drunk and vent after a breakup: sure he says some on point stuff but it’s not like I give a shit, I’d rather hear Ross’ Biggie impersonation and hear Nicki Minaj spaz out.

Maybe it’s because I have no interest in celebrity culture circa 2010 and I’d rather listen to repetitive bleeps and bloops but none of the content really hits me. Luckily dude garnishes it with enough crazy instrumentation to make it worth our while: a lesser musician would have train-wrecked this album but somehow it works. Kanye West somehow made the exact opposite Kanye West album I WANTED to hear (boom-bap oriented, remorseful, mature) and yet I still enjoy it. I hate to tip my hat to him but what choice do I have?

There’s no corny Bruno Mars style single on here, no concession to trends and nothing out of place. Kanye did exactly what he wanted. This is very flawed, but his ambition was worth whatever mistakes it caused for once, even if he probably thinks the album is way better than it actually is. Most rap albums I’ve heard this year are boring or corny, this may be batshit insane and occasionally semi-retarded but it’s never boring.

I would however, hesitate before calling this album “a leap forward” or “the future of music” or whatever. It sounds like a very well (over) produced record that fits the present but this isn’t the direction music is going in: it can’t afford it. I rate music for what it is and this is good. But if I was to play trainspotter, this is prog when the future is punk.