"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" by Kanye West

Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Roc-A-Fella Records
2010

Review

I waited to review this album on purpose because I had Kanye West fatigue. I just couldn't bring myself to listen to an album that everyone was hailing as a masterpiece. I am by no means a Kanye hater - in fact, I am a huge fan of the man's production skills. So finally I sat down to spend some time with the album and what did I find? Well, in short, it's really good but short of brilliant.

Kanye West has the ability to be brilliant but I feel like I can understand why Flying Lotus might think that he's good at being just good enough after listening to this album. There are some EPIC moments on this album - moments like "Power" and "Lost In the World" - and then there are some beats that just aren't that interesting.

Let's talk about the "less than interesting" songs for a second. "Dark Fantasy", "Gorgeous", and "So Appalled" are songs that all have brilliant wordplay but are just a bit dull. Take the following Kanye punchline from "So Appalled":

The day that you play me is the day MTV play videos

Again, the lyrics are ridiculous but the beats on these few songs get pretty repetitive. So again, you have songs like these and then you have some "hot damn that is amazing" type stuff going on in other places.

So how about those EPIC songs?

Power - I thought the video was way too short and didn't get the big deal (was this played on the radio? I don't listen to the radio for the same reason I don't drink soda - it's bad for you). The song is better it's entirety. It's rare to hear Hip-Hop songs that are epic in their construction. This one is. It's an interesting meditation on power, ego, and death.

All Of The Lights - Wow, amazing beat. There are all kinds of stuff going on here (french horns? Rihanna, Kid Cudi?). Kanye is killing it lyrically:

Cop lights, flashlights, spot lights, strobe lights, street lights
All of the lights
Fast life, drug life, thug life, hippie life
All of the lights

Monster - Dirty ass beat that is both hardcore and accessible at the same time. This is almost brought down a star because of Niki Manaj's performance as it's a bit too crazy for what the song deserves.

Hell Of A Life - Sort of goes against the everything but the kitchen sink feeling of "Power" in favor of a very simple and extremely effective dirty ass heavily synthesized bassline. Lyrically the song is about living a sexually sinful life. Bringing in the chorus at the end of the song is a brilliant touch. Like Murs, Kanye West has fallen in love with a pornstar on wax.

Lost In The World - as dull as some of the 3-stars are on the album, this is the complete opposite of that.

...still, as good as these songs are, many of the other ones don't quite reach that level of greatness. In particular, "Runaway" is one that comes close but ultimately does not deliver. "Runaway" had a very interesting short film that served as my initial introduction to the song. I was impressed by the imagery if not the strange sort of wish fulfillment of having Selita Banks show up as your angel. It is probably the most personal song on the album and directly addresses all the controversy that surrounded Kanye West last year. Well, in true Michael Jackson fashion, he chose to address it via song (and also in most un-Michael fashion all over Twitter).

So is it good? Yes. Of course it is. Is it brilliant? Sometimes...but here's the thing, most of the positive press this album is getting comes about because Kanye West is such a polarizing figure. When you get down to the music itself you'll find that it is just good enough to appease the mainstream critics - us indie loving peeps have higher standards =P

4.091 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Dark Fantasy (04:40) 3
2. Gorgeous (feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon) (05:57) 3
3. Power (04:52) 5
4. All of the Lights (interlude) (01:02)
5. All of the Lights (04:59) 5
6. Monster (feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver) (06:18) 4
7. So Appalled (feat. Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi & The RZA) (06:37) 3
8. Devil in a New Dress (feat. Rick Ross) (05:51) 4
9. Runaway (feat. Pusha T) (09:07) 4
10. Hell of a Life (05:27) 5
11. Blame Game (feat. John Legend) (07:49) 4
12. Lost in the World (feat. Bon Iver) (04:16) 5
13. Who Will Survive in America (01:38)