ALBUM REVIEW: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I feel that there’s something pointless in actually writing this review. The already controversial perfect 10.0 score on Pitchfork, seems to have taken the limelight of review what is admittedly a masterpiece. I’ve waited until release to form an opinion, I even avoided the leaks because I felt, in some way, required to purchase this album. But perfect? At the end of the day, it’s only an opinion, yet, to be rated so high and with such esteem, by any media outlet, is commendable. Does it set the bar high? Yes. Does it fairly establish how good this album is? Well, yes and no.
It is amazing. I can’t doubt that is probably Kanye’s best album. As a collected work, as a single entity, it’s definitely the best thing he’s ever made. I don’t say that lightly, as both College Dropout and Late Registration are fucking fantastic albums, hell, even Graduation had moments of pure brilliance. But, in all honesty, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has a cohesive quality, one that establishes as not just a great album of hip-hop or popular music, but one of the greatest, you guess it, of all time.
It’s not perfect though. It’s highly listenable, indeed, but some songs, like “All of the Lights” for example, seem dragged down not only by the inexplicable amount of genuine star-power, but also the song’s length. For some reason, 5 minutes just seems a little long. Plus, I’m bored of Rihanna’s voice. Nothing personal, it just annoys me. Throughout the album, song running times are incredibly long, yeah, I know that I’m being kind of picky, but do you not get the sense that sometimes these long songs are just to let Kanye show off who he hangs with? The guest spots, however great, are incredibly numerous and maybe, in some way, this distracts from the main man himself.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this album, even from the opening “Dark Fantasy” and “Gorgeous” featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon, I felt hooked. There’s something about the running order and the songs that compels you to listen to this as a whole. Songs previously shown off like “Power” and “Monster” are as good as ever, probably benefitting more from that final record-ready glistening. I think that “Runaway”, even at an exceptional 9 minutes, and “Devil In a New Dress” are two more examples of Kanye at it’s peak. The latter’s soulful sampling, juxtaposed against Ye’s blunt raps make for intense listening. Whereas “Runaway” in fact fits it’s titular role, with his brilliantly arty video that showcased the song as well as being the leading single, making me think that it will probably be the most remembered of all songs on the album.
Also, for every great song like “So Appalled” on an album like this, there is bound to be one bad song, for example, “Hell Of A Life”, a song which I couldn’t help but feel was lost amongst a crowd of others, it seemed almost isolated. Not through any fault of it’s own, it just seemed to be overshadowed in my view but only because there are no featured stars or focus on guests. Not that this is a bad thing, as the focus on and almost innumerable list of featuring artists, as mentioned, kind of becomes a little boring. I definitely think we would be facing a totally different album if Kanye had focused on and made an insular effort. But, I don’t think I would enjoy it as much any other way.
It’s the album finisher, “Lost In The World”, that is probably, actually definitely, the crowning moment of the album, Kanye’s last hurrah on this epic, a song that still to this day makes me feel powerful, makes me feel uplifted, even if that is beside the point of the lyrics, I mean, the word “Lost” in itself is pretty negative. It’s a brilliant way to close off the album, admittedly I do feel cheated that Yeezy made the “Who will survive in America?” refrain into a separate song, instead of what I imagined, by looking at the tracklisting, to be an extension of that sample. And by using Bon Iver’s bare “Woods” as the base for the song, whilst simultaneously producing the kind of beat that the song always needed, Kanye again proves that he is fucking brilliant.
I don’t doubt how good this album is, just it’s ‘perfect’ score is unsettling. You should, without fail, check it out. It is, as others have described it, an instant-classic. What you waiting for? Go get it.