Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It's a great album, period. 

I recently tweeted that it's easy enough to ignore Kanye West's interviews and public outbursts, just enjoy the music. Besides his own records, he's produced great music for John Legend (who he pretty much helped to become a big star), Common, Mos Def and a bunch of other people. That's the way I feel.

I don't like the way he acts - I actually had my own run-in with him before his debut album came out. But it doesn't take away from his music. At the same time, his great music doens't excuse (to me) his lesser efforts.  On my Kanye scorecard, I really like his first two albums, 2004's The College Dropout and 2005's Late Registration. 2007's Graduation was ambitious and I really liked some of it, but overall, it didn't do it for me. And I just couldn't get into 2008's 808s & Heartbreak. Going into this album, I really dug the King Crimson-sampling single "Power," and didn't really like "Runaway." So I figured there was a 50/50 chance that I would like it or not. But I definitely really like it.

The opening track, "Dark Fantasy," produced by The RZA, pretty much announces that this isn't another synthy, autotuney 808s type album. But I think the second track is where it takes off: "Gorgeous," featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon (who are both great, but the song would stand without their verses). It's a song that a rock band should re-work.  It features a cool sample of The Byrds' "You Showed Me." "Power," like I've said, is amazing. "All Of The Lights" is pretty wild, it features a ton of guest vocalists, including Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend and Fergie, among others.  

The centerpiece of the album, to me, is "Monster," a classic collab track, featuring Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and... Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Minaj kind of steals the show with a classic verse, but the real star is Kanye's track, he produced it. Another rocking track is "Hell Of A Life" which borrows liberally from Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" (and in fact gives Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward songwriting credits). There aren't really any weak points on the entire album, and there are just so many highlights.  Yes, Kanye's attitude gets annoying, but it doesn't really ruin anything.

And by the way, even after listening to "Runaway" (the one that toasts "the douchebags and the assholes") I realized that it's actually a really good song (and would have fit in better on 808s).

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