Now, I might be the only person who thinks this, but alongside Radiohead and the Arcade Fire, I don’t think any musician or group making music today is as important as Mr. West. From emerging nearly a decade ago, every album has only gotten better. His fifth album, “ My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” is a masterpiece on nearly every plain. One could argue that he’s the most important Hip Hop, Pop Star since Michael Jackson. I make that distinction because unlike most artists, he does almost everything himself. The beats are things he created, and aside from the numerous special guests he is able to wrangle in, it’s very much about him and his overall sound. He also has a way about making other artists you never really cared about before ( Rhianna or Adam Levine ) suddenly an amazing part of a song.
The fist track on this album is basically an iceberg. You can see it coming, but you have no idea how much is going to be unearthed over the course of the duration of the album. Track two on the album, “ Gorgeous” is a super crisp song. The beat isn’t overly produced, and for this song, that works. Bringing in KiD CuDi and Reakwon from the Wu Tang Clan only makes the song better. Now, this is how you can tell he’s grown as a person and musician. Back in the day he would of never made fun of himself, but here you find him name dropping and discussing the joke about how he’s a gay fish that played to so much success on “ South Park.”
How does one even start to talk about the fucking awesomeness that is the song “ Power”?. The chanting is the first thing you hear, but it’s soon taking the backseat to the rhyhmes of West. Also, how could you not love a rapper who uses a fucking King Crimson sample? No one in the genre is even close to being able to pull that off ( Which is why he makes most of Jay – Z ‘s beats). The song is probably one of the best hip hop songs I’ve ever heard in my life. The bridge at the end of the song where he discusses everything from Obama to drinking and driving while also incorporating a very small piano part under the initial beat is just a nice little touch that only really attentive music fans will pick up on. Yet another reason he’s so popular. He’s able to make songs simple enough for mass consumption, while also creating really unique, intricate time signatures and beats for even the sharpest of ears.
The next voice you here is Rhianna. When she’s not being beaten to a pulp by a genuinely bad artist, she occasionally makes appearances in really good songs. “ All of the Lights” is another stand out track on an album of nothing but stand out tracks. “ M.J. Gone, my nigga dead” is one of the few times where you see West mention another artist in regards to acknowledging the loss. We all lost someone really, really special when Michael Jackson passed away, and he’s aware of that. Aside from the Beatles, he’s easily the most important pop musician ever. Now, this has always bothered me : M.I.A. Is clearly heard at the tail end of the track, but she’s never mentioned as even being a part of the album, While she hasn’t had any decent songs in a while, it still seems strange that they wouldn’t have made that known.
The next two tracks, “ Monster,” and “ So Appalled” are where Kanye really brings out the big guns in terms of special guests. Over these songs, Jay Z, Rza, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame, Pusha T, Swizz Beats, and Prynce Cy Hi all appear. You’d think the lack of guests would cloud West’s vision, but quite simply he knows exactly what he wants and is fully aware of what it takes to get that there. Following the guest swarm, we’re immediately thrust into a variation of a slow grind R&B tune. The placement of this song is also really good. It provides a nice breather after a few up tempo songs and gives us a glimpse to where its going with the rest of the album.
The next song, “ Runaway” is quite possibly the most honest song he’s ever written. The opening of the overly creepy piano keys always reminds me of the type of slow burn you see in Kubrick’s last film “ Eyes Wide Shut.” It’s ominous and at the same time beautiful. The song also happens to be epic not only in scope and ambition, but also length. At just slightly over nine minutes long, it’s another reason he’s the best rapper – producer combo in the world oh hip hop. From the first time I heard the song on those MTV awards, it was clear it was a brilliant song. It’s also encouraging to see an artists relay his true feelings. We all know he can be egotistical and arrogant, but this also shows he’s aware of that stigma and he’s just trying to be human and compassionate right now. Also, it’s just overall a sad, uncompromising song. It’s sobering in a way also. Much this album is very much about casual sex and drug binges, but this song contains almost none of that.
Over the next few songs we have some dark ( “ Hell of a Life”) and some just plain weird (“ Blame Game”). Both of these songs, especially “ Blame Game” show how diverse he’s able to be in the construction of his music. One has him declaring “ Pussy and religion is all I need” while the other features Chris Rock energetically proclaiming how amazing his bitch is for having learned new sexual techniques from Yeezy. Like I said, fucking weird.
The second last song “ Lost in the World” features the beautiful, calming voice of Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. This song is a great piece of misdirection. It starts calmly enough, but soon it has West rapping over some of the best instrumentation on the album. It really does feel like a party at the end of the world, where everyone is happy and regrets are nowhere to be found. This quickly leads into album closer “ Who will Survive in America,” where a voice not Wests is trying to make the world wake up to an increasingly distraught world. It’s an interesting end to a very complex and difficult record. But in the end, some difficult things are worth ultimate understanding.
In the album, this album might very well go down as the ultimate masterstroke in an already amazing career. It’s been some time since this has been out in the world, so it’ll be interesting to see what new tricks he has up his sleeves when she decides to show the world whatever it is he’s currently working on.