Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


3.0
good

Review

by Andrew Kaster USER (24 Reviews)
January 13th, 2011 | 37 replies | 5,702 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For all I know, Kanye is well on his way in becoming a Patrick Bateman.

Allow me to start this review in a similarly boisterous manner to that of “Dark Fantasy” (the first track on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”) by stating that this is hip-hop’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”; a collaboration of influences and instrumental elements that have remained scarce to the genre, pulled off in an amazingly professional and well constructed manner. And now, allow me to retract from the towering expectations and supposed praise I have planned for this album, as I must admit that Kanye’s “magnum opus” has been caught up in romanticized sensationalism. I can’t help but feel that much of the album’s weight is mere “fluff” attached to his public image. The meme propelled Taylor Swift incident, the Southpark lampooning, media scandals and shenanigans; these have all contributed to the great rise and fall and inevitable rise again of the king of mainstream hip-hop. The music community was ushered into two separate camps in lea of this album‘s release; those who will continue to discredit his work due to his reigning title of “Douche Bag of the Year”, and those who expected the artist to blossom in the face of opposition. Therefore, the hype is understandable, seeing as this is the hip-hop album that non hip-hop fans have always wanted to hear for decades now.

“Can we get much higher?” is a rhetorical question, because never before has rap sounded this epic. There is an equal amount of actual instrumentation and sampling on this album, with the instrumental work (credited to forty four people) pulled off in an absolutely brilliant manner (at least, brilliant for a hip-hop album). There is a particular attention to layers and variety that Kanye practiced on KiD CuDi’s “hipster-hop” excursions which are perfected on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”; fuzzed guitars, strings, horns, swirling synths, eclectic percussion, piano…ya know, the works. However, there is one blatant quality of this record that prevents me from loving it the way I should, and that element is none other than Kanye himself.

"Now this will be a beautiful death, I'm jumpin' out the window". There is a clear dichotomy in the lyrics which shift back and fourth between egotistical pandering the likes of which outclass Kanye’s previous work, and the somewhat vulnerable and romanticized epiphanies that add a human touch to a genre of music seriously lacking it. Despite this, he also continues to trump all others in the department of phallus waving, the likes of which I find hard to stomach without rolling my eyes. It’s a sour quality that seeps through even into his voice and his flow which are the most important tool in any rapper’s arsenal. While I love what has been done here musically, and while I love the concept and ideals behind the album, it’s hard to fully enjoy this rap album when I can’t stand the rap style of Kanye. However, when the album is good, it’s damn good.

“Power” is a key component to this, and is ultimately, the heart of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. The anthemic chanting, claps, strings, pounding drums, and even a sample of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” (as a prog lover, I was dumbstruck by this) all add up into a song that is better than the album itself. “Now I embody every characteristic of the egotistic”/”I’m an asshole?”, at least the man is self-aware. The epic nature continues with “All of the Lights”, a battle charge of horns, rattling percussion, and classical strings. It’s an anthem of excess, ruined by the excess of Kanye’s rapping as you can hear the cockiness behind every line he spits. “Monster” is next, and comes off as the album’s most surprising moment. The tribal like stomp of percussion spins the revolving door of rappers, all of them carrying the refrain of “I’m a mother***ing monster”. Even the prize goose of golden rap verses Nicki Minaj appears here, and though I’d hate to admit it, her portion is simply fantastic. She completely steals the show, with her trademark mood swing style of bitchiness. It leads one to believe the song itself was written specifically for her.

And as we reach the second half of the record we sense a gradual change in themes as the lyrics become more and more obsessed with failed relationships. Herein lies the most interesting aspect of this album. Even though no names are named, and even though Kanye continues to wear the mask of "King of Excess", one can assume that this all relates specifically to his recently failed relationship with model Amber Rose. It's almost as if he's afraid to admit that this is an album about heartbreak, and so, these moments of tenderness are sadly very brief. A perfect example of this sad fact being a snippet of the lyrics in "So Appalled" (a song that is, otherwise, boring and forgettable); "That was a little joke, viola"/"Baby I'm magic, tah-dah", spoken lazily, as if Kanye is bored and tired of the whole show he, and countless other rappers, put on for us.

"Run away from me baby...run away, and so we come to "Runaway". If "Power" is the heart of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", then "Runaway" is the soul. Clocking in at over nine minutes, it's the only song on not harmed by the album's running tradition of uncharacteristically long song lengths. The last three minutes are dedicated to an extended coda of orchestral stabs, abrasive vocoder, and the wonderfully simple piano melody that runs throughout the song. The remainder of the album is shrouded in considerably weaker material. The garage-rock fuzz stomp of "Hell of a Life" is little more than just that, and "Blame Game" (which samples Aphex Twin's "Avril 14th"; again, I was dumbstruck) runs on way too long. "Lost in the World"/"Who Will Survive in America?" wrap up the album in a bittersweet manner. While the actual song "Lost in the World" is unremarkable, the use of Gil Scott-Heron's spoken word piece "Comment No. 1" as the end to the album is simply perfect.

"I can't love you this much...", this is Kanye's most sincere statement, held back by his own chauvinism. "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is id personified, it's one large amygdala covered in lesions and marinated in liquor. What could be an album of impeccable quality is dragged down by unjustified song lengths (I usually found myself uninterested in most of these songs within the last minute), too many inane lyrics, shameless bravado, and Kanye's average rapping. The fact remains though, that this is obviously an important album. I may not appreciate it as much as everybody else, but it truly is a landmark, and there aren't many other rap albums that justify such an analysis. While I find it hard to sympathize with this urban Great Gatsby, there are signs that if Kanye can refine his methods a bit more he will be capable of an album that is a masterpiece in both influence and quality. For now, I'll sit tight with the progressive hip-hop of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and wait to see if it grows on me, or if Kanye releases something that trumps it. "Stick around, some real feelings might surface..."



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Comments:Add a Comment 
couldwinarabbit
January 14th 2011


6996 Comments


fuck off with kanye reviews.

SloppyMilkshake
January 14th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

But you don't understand, everybody must pen a review of this album. So says the law of the internet.

Or maybe I was just bored and wanted to write quickly about something I had already assessed in my mind when I first heard the album.

SloppyMilkshake
January 14th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And as far as I know, this is only one of the two reviews that aren't tossing a 4 or a 5 at this thing, so I thought it would be nice to voice some different opinions.

cbmartinez
January 14th 2011


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you acknowledge everything about the album that should make it a 4.5 or 5 and then you just say 'but i dont like it, 3'

Defeater
January 14th 2011


5782 Comments


I know you gave this a 3 and all but Kanye won't put out anything this good again.

SloppyMilkshake
January 14th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No, martinez, I acknowledge everything that would give it a perfect score and everything that would give it an awful score. Therefore, the 3. I loved the production, the instrumentation, and some of the lyrical moments. I disliked Kanye's rapping, most of the lyrics, and the song lengths/forgettable nature of some songs. I'm cut right down the middle in loving and hating this album.

In other words, read next time. The last paragraph summarizes all my feelings and gives a perfect reasoning as to why I gave it a 3.

cbmartinez
January 14th 2011


2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i did read and you spend most of the review talking about how good it is and then in the final paragraph you're like "kanyes rapping is bad." I would think from reading the first paragraph that you are smart enough to contextualize his rapping within what he is trying to achieve with this album. of course, it's not "good" rapping in the traditional sense but it's perfect for what he's doing.

Urinetrouble
January 14th 2011


5760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy shit, the first educated user on Sputnik (not counting staff) who doesn't speak like a retard in the comments section. You're welcome here any time man.

SloppyMilkshake
January 14th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

There are several moments besides in the last paragraph where I make reference to his rapping being weak, and how he wastes opportunities by piling on more machoness. Even though I understand this is part of the concept, I'm not exactly enthralled by it. Many people may be fascinated and understand the mindset behind "Trout Mask Replica", and when all is said and done, they still may hate how it sounds. I like the idea of Kanye opening himself up and even being self-deprecating, but some of the lyrics are just (for lack of a better term) dumb, filled to the brim with "clever" puns and pop culture references. Exactly why I loved the "That was a little joke, viola" line; it's the one moment where he acknowledges just how tired his "cleverness" is.

It's a good record, but ultimately, I like other rap albums better, and that's just a matter of personal taste. I'm willing to admit that this is an important record that will probably be counted as one of the greatest albums of all time later down the road, but it doesn't mean I have to love it. "Sgt. Peppers" may be one of the most influential records of all time, but I'd place it below several other Beatles albums in terms of quality. It's just my opinion, and that's all critical analysis is.

ebay
January 14th 2011


501 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

THANK YOU.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

posting just so there's one more 5 on this page to combat the 3s

Jash
January 14th 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

posting just so there's one more 5 on this page to combat the 3s [2]


Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

omg we should just keep posting then there will be maaaaad 5s and we will win the internet

Ire
January 14th 2011


41762 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

we can win?

Jash
January 14th 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

oh aids you cant win the interwebz, marc zuckerberg already did that

Jash
January 14th 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hahahaha would you look at that.

cause we're the 3 best friends that anyone could have, we're the 3 best friends that anyone could have

tapitforever
January 14th 2011


1243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review, disagree on the rating but to each his own.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2011


23816 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well maybe zuckerberg has already won the internet, but we can at least win sputnik if we are persistent

Satellite
January 14th 2011


20808 Comments


when they make the sputnik movie, tonight is going to be the climax.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Tyrael
January 14th 2011


20874 Comments


Hell yes.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I



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