Kanye West
808s and Heartbreak


4.5
superb

Review

by sportsboy USER (20 Reviews)
September 7th, 2014 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: wherein kanye figures he's mortal

Enter Kanye West. Amidst all the bombast and assurance that was known as his characteristic quality following a triumvirate of critically acclaimed albums in The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation, his life became akin to a living hell. West's mother, Donda, died of complications in regard to cosmetic surgery, and his engagement to fiancee Alexis Phifer ended, after being intertwined with her since 2002. Clearly, the man was in a torturous place when he conceived this record, and it truly shows in the music; 808s and Heartbreak is a masterclass in heartfelt music. Not only innovative but also a testament to the experimentation Kanye is dedicated to in each of his albums, entire artists wouldn't in the places they are today without what was pioneered here.

A substantial part of what makes 808s work so extraordinarily well is how Kanye juxtaposes the intended perfections of Auto-Tune with the bleak, driven instrumentation on each of the tracks. “Coldest Winter” belies its namesake in a bevy of ways, as tribal drums collapse onto chilling synths and the psychological scars that Kanye hold penetrate his consciousness. The atmosphere produced here aids the story of a broken man with everything to say and nothing he can possibly fix, as evidenced by “Welcome To Heartbreak”. No other rapper at that point in their career was this daring, this honest with his struggles, and it makes the music shine because of this courage. Kanye sings about his disgust with his material lifestyle, and begs for a semblance of emotional stability and care in a world that he feels he's left out of. “I can't stop having these visions/ I gotta get with it” shows his fears and insecurities plainly, marked by a vicious media and vocal critics abounding.

Even with a markedly depressed Kanye, his ability to construct memorable melodies and hooks doesn't falter, as “Paranoid” and “Heartless” are radio-friendly without sacrificing the morose tone that billows throughout 808s and Heartbreak, which speaks volumes on how polished the production comes to be. Guest vocals from stalwarts like Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne also bolster the whole orchestration, as the emotion from them isn't expected and provide an interesting, subversive take on features. West's utilization of all that was at his disposal, from his ostensible usage of modulation to the sparse backing tracks that filter in and out each song, is awesome, and forces capitulation from the listener as they're gripped by his inner demons.

With 808s and Heartbreak, Kanye West solidified his artistic range. A passion play no doubt, it's the product of a tortured genius spilling out his guts all in name of creating something wholly different than what was the norm at the time. Without 808s, there would be no Drake, no Frank Ocean, no wave of rap that based itself on being forthright with emotions. It's not a record for any mood, nor is it for everyone, but regardless of its cultural contexts and influence, Kanye made what he wanted to make, and we're all better off for it.



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user ratings (2923)
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
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    IsItLuck? EMERITUS (4)
    Everyone, I'd like you to meet the emotionally fragile and digitally enhanced Kanye West....

    Rudy K. EMERITUS (2.5)
    It’s a shame that the album that proves Kanye to be a truly three-dimensional artist com...

    NewYorkZoo (5)
    Some will say this album is his best. Others will say it's his worst. I see both sides. Bu...

  • Bulldog (2.5)
    Much to the chagrin of technical value, Kanye creates his most interesting record of all t...

    wtferrothorn (3.5)
    Chapter 4: Grief...

    AtavanHalen (4.5)
    The world's biggest ego learns to hate himself with unexpectedly brilliant results....

    HolidayKirk (3.5)
    A mainstream rapper sings an album about how sad he is and it somehow comes out excellent....

  • TheSaneLunatic (4)
    Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak does not equal Radiohead's Kid A. However, the album is one...

    Drbebop (4.5)
    Don't say you will. I pray you will...

    Harvestman (2.5)
    For an album with the word 'heart' in its title, it sure is half-hearted....

    heyseuss (1.5)
    Are those really the lyrics?...

  • sfk (2.5)
    A so-so attempt at a Concept album...

    MiK (3.5)
    Kanye's latest effort proves to be his most daring and experimental to date....



Comments:Add a Comment 
sportsboy
September 7th 2014


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this was done for something else but since it's not gonna be used i might as well put it up here

Froot
September 7th 2014


1910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

review rating and your rating don't correlate wat



agree with everything btw. pos

sportsboy
September 7th 2014


702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haven't changed it :X

PaddyPooHead
September 7th 2014


394 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album wasn't received that well when it first came out but it's rep has grown a lot since then and for good reason.

Tunaboy45
September 7th 2014


18435 Comments


808's and date rape

ExplosiveOranges
September 7th 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Correct rating. Pos'd.

Tunaboy45
September 7th 2014


18435 Comments


pos

TooLateToGoBack
September 7th 2014


2106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Classic album.

scottpilgrim10
September 7th 2014


4750 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Correct rating [2]

Phlegm
September 8th 2014


7250 Comments


gotta check this, i really like some of the singles

MMX
September 8th 2014


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid 4

Insurrection
September 8th 2014


24844 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

some really great stuff on here

MunsuLight
September 8th 2014


719 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was probably the only one from him I didn't like at first.. Grown on me a lot

Xar
September 8th 2014


1652 Comments


Lotta jams on this.

MunsuLight
September 8th 2014


719 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I do agree that Pinnochio sucks, but I do like Robocop



Skippable tracks are for me track 8 to 10.. But I find the rest are ranging from excellent to amazing, but to each his own

ZackSh33
September 8th 2014


731 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Classic album. [2]

sublimefan1991
September 8th 2014


819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd say MBDTF and Late Reg are by far my favorites from Kanye, but 808s may very well be my #3. Say

You Will and Bad News especially are two of my all-time favorite songs. I've always compared this

album to Kid A in the sense that after OK Computer, Radiohead made a number of drastic changes on

their 4th release: obscured vocals, synthesized/programmed drums at the forefront, essentially

abandoning their earlier sound, more obscure instruments and sound effects. On 808s & Heartbreak,

Kanye goes through perhaps even greater a reinvention: basically no samples (save the drum loop on

Bad News and a few small others), overturns his boomy, Dre-like drum sound in favor of tuned and

distorted 808s, autotuned singing and next to no rapping - from, at the time, arguably the world's

biggest rapper. I really commend Kanye for having the balls to make such a radical change at that

point in his career, and especially for taking the time to really reinvent himself behind the

boards, having produced or co-produced every track on here. Great review, great album.

WatchItExplode
September 8th 2014


10472 Comments


I really only like Paranoid and Robocop off of this, and they basically the same song, Robocop just has worse lyrics.

rufinthefury
September 8th 2014


3998 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Paranoid and Robocop are great songs yeah. Welcome to Heartbreak tho - so good.



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