May 9, 2012

Tosten Burks is tost in the world.

Posting this video because the song remains more interesting than anything Kanye’s done since. Maybe Watch the Throne and these recent G.O.O.D. Music album leaks have matched the gaudiness of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but none of it has been inspired or emotionally engaging enough to feel deserving of such scale. “Lost in the Woods” is only maybe a top tier MBDTF song, but that’s like calling the Tower formerly known as Sears only even maybe a top tier skyscraper. Is there much difference at that point when you’re standing at the bottom looking up?

The point being, a video as art-filmily pretentious and absurd as this, or as “Power,” or “Monster,” or “Runaway,” works because the music feels like it deserves such grandiose visual ambition, requires it even. Maybe the track owes more credit than asserted to the original Bon Iver song, but what matters is the left-fieldness of the sample and the boldly quiet respect towards its pure state, humble restraint holding up the unflinchingly self-important verses laid on top. This could not be on any other platinum-artist’s album. I’m not sure anyone else has enough guts. Which is a testament to West’s ability to pull commercially successful sounds out of anywhere and also the reason his output as of late doesn’t hang.

‘Ye has always been dope because he’s always given a bird to the limits of what radio hip-hop can sound like. His most recent work has just been much more centrist. It’s lacked soul and integrity. Not that the dude’s personal investment has sounded forced – MBDTF might be his biggest force ever, but it’s the brashly grand commitment to its ideals that make it valuable as opposed to the sort of grainily inherent authenticity of a “Through the Wire” – it’s just been near-absent.

Perhaps the overbearingness of West’s personality has gotten exhausting. But also, the music’s just not as good. Let this not be a critical damnation of all present-day Kanye, but at the same time, let it be a call for him to rediscover the challenging, ever-curious inventiveness of pre-fashion-designer Mr. West. I know it all falls down, but I hope that ‘Ye hasn’t started just yet.

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