By Keir Bristol
Kanye West’s fifth studio album was released last Monday- on the same day as Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday. At this point I don’t know who sold more, but I do know that West has to be raking in the chips right now. I’m not a big fan of ‘Ye in terms of how he is depicted in the media (or on his personal Twitter account) but I cannot deny that he is a musical genius, and not only in the terms of rap and hip-hop.
Enter My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy. It’s a dark album that seems to be based more on West’s reality rather than Fantasy. You can tell that West’s production has truly developed since The College Dropout. The beats are more intricate- West uses piano and Bon Iver samples to spice up his signature auto-tune and sarcastic one-liners such as “No more drugs for me / p***y and religion is all I need.” It’s totally different from his other albums, but still clearly Kanye’s style- he’s a varied human being.
But all of the production doesn’t take away from the fact that in a shallow way, West seems to bare his soul on this album. It’s a “take me or leave me” vibe, in which he’s very open about his flaws, especially when it comes to his relationships with women. The second single, “Runaway,” is a perfect example- West seems to be afraid of commitment and yet is afraid of losing his current girl, because it doesn’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine. But just as quickly as he admits his flaws, he dismisses them in the same rush. And don’t expect any less misogyny on this album, either.
To take a break from the bleak reality of West’s love life, the star-studded record features from Bon Iver, Pusha T of Clipse, Nicki Minaj (who steals the show on “Monster”), Jay-Z, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross, Raekwon, Prince Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz, Dwele and the RZA. West keeps good company.
West is also taking his artistic talents to other elements of his work as well. The alternative covers for the album, all done by George Condo, can be found here. Condo says that they are, “an attempt to bring depictions of religious figures to the modern world.” The official cover was rejected by some stores who were apparently offended due to sexual explicity…
“Runaway” has a 35-minute film, which also serves as the music video [watch “Runaway” here], not to mention the “moving painting” that West had put together for the lead single, “Power.”
Other stand-out tracks include “Who Will Survive In America,” which extensively samples Gil Scott-Heron’s “Comment No. 1”, the rap-ballad “Blame Game” featuring John Legend, and the next single, “All of the Lights,” a song about exposing everything – even the ugly stuff – in life.
My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy secures any doubt that anyone may have had that West wasn’t original and that he couldn’t take some bits of everything and make them into coherent popular music. Even if you don’t buy the album, you need to at least listen to it.
Rating: 4/5 stars.