Listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an event. Somehow, in a world saturated with great music, Kanye West has proven an ability to regularly produce some of the most compelling, globally and internally poignant at once, most listenable pieces of music today. On his fifth album, as he has regularly done for nearly a decade now, Kanye has raised the bar to superhuman levels yet again, potentially changing the game one more time.
There is an internalized swagger that bursts out of your speakers for the entirety of this album. Kanye has never been lacking confidence, and here, it’s like listening to a man who is truly the best in the world at what he does. Kanye lets you know what’s truly on his mind, and that’s the sign of a truly good lyricist. He’s not painting these vague, generalized portraits here, these are personal songs. Kanye proves he hasn’t lost touch with the world. In fact, he might be getting a better handle on it with each album.
Kanye West sees a world no one else sees. His honesty as a lyricist has always been one of his major strengths, but with his latest effort, he takes what he does best and does it better than it’s ever been done before. He lets you know that he’s aware of things (South Park’s Fish Stick joke, President Obama, etc.), and this is one of Kanye’s biggest assets. He raps about things people are interested in. Like Pepsi before him, Kanye West is the voice of a generation.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy might be the first truly Global Album. Kanye takes nuggets from his previous albums and blends them effortlessly together on one bombastic collection. It’s like a final exam. He takes what he learned on the first four tests and shows you that his ability to put everything together collectively at the end is truly one of a kind.
As I listened to this album over and over again, Kanye began to strike me as the first method rapper, and I like that his style is one of a kind, both musically and personally. He thrusts himself into these situations, and then reacts the only way he can. For his words to ring true, he has to be hated by a significant portion of the population, even if they don’t hate him for his music. He’s always writing. When we’re looking at him, he’s looking back and winking. He gets the game. With each album he changes the game and just raises the bar up sky high for everyone else.
Fantasy is both vintage and a breakthrough at the same time. West takes samples of what he has learned with his phenomenal previous albums, and cobbles them together into the music experience of the year. You never know what to expect, but Mr. West takes you by the hand and leads you toward the light.
The album also has some fantastic collaborators working alongside Kanye. Names like Jay-Z, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Nicki Manaj, John Legend, Rick Ross, and Kid Cudi to name just a handful. These folks, along with Kanye, give every song a distinct fingerprint, and their respective, contrasting styles give the album a fresh feel through multiple listens. Nicki Manaj absolutely tears it up on “Monster”, John Legend brings some heart on “Blame Game”, and the sampling of Bon Iver’s “Lost in the World” creates one of the most compelling songs in recent memory.
Though it’s still a very current album I already have been imagining what this album will eventually evolve into. It’s quality is unrivaled, and this album has a great chance at being one of those albums that people ramble on about for decades. It really has an epic feel throughout, and the flawless execution makes you want to just keep hitting repeat about every 70 minutes.
Included in the Deluxe Edition is a 35-minute DVD of the short film “Runaway”, directed by West. It’s basically an extended length music video for portions of the album, and if this is the world Kanye sees, I would gladly pay for a ticket to see it for day. It’s a grandiose, at times eerie expression from a guy who somehow manages to be despised and worshipped by different segments of people.
I took a lot out of “Runaway.” It’s visually stunning with it’s Film Noir-esque cinematography, and also quite odd, which makes for differentiated individual interpretation. Kanye shows definite promise as a director, and “Runaway” commands multiple re-watches. It’s Kubrickian, at times. It has glimpses of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Buy it. Listen. Let it become a part of you. Kanye West has turned his albums into cultural events, like the Super Bowl, a Christopher Nolan film, or a Presidential Election. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy just goes for the balls and holds them tightly. This is Kanye’s World, and we really just aren’t worthy.
This album is everything it should be, everything it shouldn’t be, and more than it ever could have been all at the same time. It is a legitimate masterpiece, and judging it track by track isn’t really appropriate. As a 13 song collection, it’s almost completely flawless. I say almost because while I haven’t yet found something bad to say about it, it doesn’t mean others won’t find something. The additional material, including the engaging 35-minute film-noir short “Runaway” takes the music experience to a brand new level.
Score: 10/10 (Perfect)