Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
It’s been a year since it’s release and personally, my favorite album from Kanye. Coming back from an era in which he was blacklisted and hated by the media and almost everyone for the VMA ‘09 Taylor Swift incident, he came back with this amazing fucking album and some of his best work.
Okay, cool. Nicki Minaj doing her british accent, story-telling..nothing new there, right? Then as soon as I heard that first "Can We Get Much Higher?"…I was done, track was amazing. The way it gradually builds up with more harmonies then boom, we hear the first beat on the album. Great opener, almost as good as the “Good Morning” intro from the Graduation album, but not quite. Nonetheless, had us all saying "You ain’t got no yeezy nigga?!" Can we get much higher? Yes, yes we can.
You got Cudi on the hook and a verse from Raekwon, dope already. With that infectious guitar riff we hear some of ‘Ye’s lines take jabs at people who’ve doubted him and basically telling people who’ve mocked him to fuck off. Recurring theme throughout the album. Why? ‘Cuz he’s fucking Kanye West and can do whatever the fuck he wants, when he wants.
First single from the album, the first thing people heard that gave us a hint of what the album would sound like. You got the tribal sounding backbeat, and a “21st Century Schizoid Man” sample, creating a clash between African traditional chants and futuristic machine-like effects. Throughout all of this, we hear ‘Ye speak on his inner struggle with fame and success, targeting the writers of SNL who created jokes about him and relating his power and success to the struggle of his reality, contemplating death by “jumping out the window”.. a metaphor for the mental prison he’s locked up in with who he is and what fame has caused him to be. Don’t even get me started on how sick the remix to this track is, power clap and all. No one man should have all that power.
All of the Lights (Interlude)/All of the Lights:
Hearing the melodic interlude of the piano and strings was relaxing, then how smoothly it blends into that first "ALL OF THE LIGHTS!"….ill. Upon first reading the all-star guest list of who would be featured on the track, I’m sure we all wondered how it would sound. Then we got that leak with Drake on it, then suddenly Drake wasn’t featured on the finalized version..hmm. With an eclectic list of artists mixing old and new including: Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Legend, The-Dream, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, La Roux’s Elly Jackson, and Elton John, the track was sure to be fire and it was. What struck me interesting wasn’t WHO was on the track, but HOW they were on it. ‘Ye did a dope job of layering vocals from all of these artists, some we can hear more prominently than others. It’s not as if the song was geared toward specific parts/verses by artists, but more of them all working together, playing a role to contribute to the overall song. End result: radio hit. To this day, “All of the Lights” is nothing without that interlude going into it. That’s the only way I choose to listen to it. LOL
Ewwww. I don’t even know how to get started on this track. First hearing this on G.O.O.D. Fridays was insane, you got a line-up of Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver..how can this not be greatness? You hear ‘Ye and Jay grind through their verses effortlessly, staying true to the monster theme and beasting and tearin’ up the Hip Hop game. However….hands down, best verse was Nicki’s. You get all of her schizophrenic personalities in one verse, with bars MURDERING. And that ending "Pink wig, thick ass, give ‘em whiplash…" line just rode so smoothly on that beat, shit. Six minute track of epic proportion, living up to it’s title name in every sense possible. But let’s be honest, Rick Ross was not needed/did not contribute anything to this track…but kudos to him for admitting he’s a "fat muthafucka."
Man this shit is, fuckin’ ridiculous. We hear Kanye, Jay, Pusha T, Cyhi, and Swizz rap about star-studded success over some of the grittiest production on the album. However instead of us hearing about all the luxuries that come with success, we hear more about the negative aspects of scrutiny, jealousy, and betrayal. The tone turns from celebratory to almost dismal, reflecting that fame isn’t all what it cracks up to be.
Devil In A New Dress:
We hear a melody of soul-infused piano upon opening the track with some of the most tongue-in-cheek lyrics from ‘Ye such as…“I hit the Jamaican spot, at the bar, take a seat/ I ordered the jerk, she said you are what you eat.” We’re taken on a journey revealing that although Kanye’s looking for true genuine love, he still can’t part ways with dealing with the gold-digging females only after money and fame. And just when we think the song is ending with that guitar solo….we’re still left with a Rick Ross verse. Bam.
Everything about this…is epic. From the 30 minute short film, to the VMA performance, to the outcries of lost love with Amber Rose. We’re met with Kanye lyrically speaking about his downfalls and mistakes, showing that even he messes up sometimes. He pokes fun at the idea of “toasting to the douchebags” but deep down he realizes the effects and negative impacts it has on others when being a “douchebag.” He admits his faults at love saying “Never was much of a romantic/ I could never take the intimacy/And I know it did damage/Plus the look in your eyes is killing me” and pours his heart into this open love letter for our ears. Right when we think the song’s ending, we’re left with this auto-tune solo, sounding almost as if a robot has lost a partner and best friend but throughout it all, this robot is sounding more human than ever.
Hell of a Life:
The opening bassline can be pleasing for both rock and hip-hoppers alike, reflecting Kanye’s versatility in production. His main purpose of this track is to show how we only live once, so we might as well live it and do all that we can while we’re still here. His flow bounces off the beat effortlessly with rhythm and lyrical genius melding in one.
John Legend joins the track, singing a melody that admittedly, has gotten stuck in my head on several occasions. We’ve all dealt with relationships in which there’s arguing back and forth, leaving both sides feeling guilty at the end of it. What I find most interesting is how Kanye’s verse is a mix of sped-up auto-tune, and distorted different voices at different speeds. Trippy, but artistically thoughtful. On top of that, the subject matter and lyrics are all a form of true poetry, combining the highs and lows of love. And can we just talk about that ending Chris Rock skit? LOL, had me dying for days and lol @ the shade with "yeezy taught me" sounding like Amber.
Lost In The World/Who Will Survive in America:
Track opens with a "Woods" sample from Bon Iver, a very soft layered vocal leading up to a 4 minute 17 second track of pure pulse-pounding rhythms, chants, and perhaps one of the most contradictory verses in musical history: "You’re my devil, you’re my angel. You’re my lies, you’re my truth…" Within the song we hear Kanye mix lyrics of spirituality and sex, while still making the track dance-able and tying up tribal anthems and themes throughout the album. Production is insane and ends with a dope poem spoken-word sample aiming for equality and the happiness to support oneself and family in an ever-changing and struggled America. One of my favorite tracks.
This album was a defining moment in Kanye’s career, showing that it wasn’t limited to just being a Hip-Hop album, but mixing in aspects of other genres such as: pop, blues, jazz, rock, tribal, etc. as well. Whether you like Kanye as a person or not, his work speaks for itself in his talent as a lyricist and producer. He’s an artist.
Happy Birthday, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
- Edwin Azurin Jr.
Posted on Tuesday, 22 November
Tagged as: kanye west my beautiful dark twisted fantasy album review happy birthday LOL
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