Album Review: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The media’s public enemy #1 is back again, with his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West had plenty to prove after the auto-tuned filled, bleak collection of dark pop that was 808s and Heartbreak and he did just that with this latest LP My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

This time around Kanye makes a smart choice and goes back to his classic flow , but with a twist: the landscape is full of dark, ominous strings mixed with hard-hitting classic drum samples and for those of you that think his flow has fallen off his rhymes are better than ever before.

Recorded entirely at Diamond Head Studios in Hawaii, Kanye called upon a list of his closest friends and collaborators to record with him: Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, Pusha T, Big Sean and even G.O.O.D. Music newcomer Cyhi da Prince. The most important contributors, however, are the producers. West enlisted mentor No I.D., Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, RZA and Ken Lewis to ensure this would be one of his greatest, most ambitious works of art yet, and they did just that.

“Power,” the lead single is built upon a banging beat that samples the chaotic chant of Continental No. 6’s “Afromerica,” paired with the grueling guitar of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”  “You got the power to let power go,” he tells himself. Yes, he has the freedom of choice to leave all the drama behind, and a menacing laugh rises from the mix as if daring him to do it. But with his volatile mix of ego, sensitivity, neediness and talent, West leaves no doubt that he never will.  The other standouts on the album are those most meticulously produced. The Raekwon and Kid Cudi-assisted “Gorgeous” meets a heavy climax with a street-perceptive verse from Raekwon the Chef as Kanye brings the real drums in midway through the verse.

The indie rocker assisted “Lost in the World” samples Bon Iver’s “Woods,” proving further something middle-of-the-road Hip Hop producers don’t seem to grasp in their production; a musical understanding. Not just Hip-Hop and not just breakbeats, but all genres. It also demonstrates his self-consciousness as the hook (could not be any more appropriate, following the death of West’s mother and what he told the audience of his “Runaway” film premiere were suicidal times).

“But I will not give up on life again,” West told the crowd.

Although collaboration-heavy, the key tracks of the album are the ones in which West has the most verses. Sure, “So Appalled” and “Monster” certified bangers, but having released them as G.O.O.D. Friday tracks far before the album’s release contributed to their lack of overall presence on the album. For the listener, what’s good is what’s new as the British storytelling of Nicki Minaj leads into the epic introduction so typical of a Kanye West album.

With My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, gone is the album format as there does not appear to be a club single in sight. Instead, West provides a dark landscape of hard-hitting beats and rhymes that hit home with his Hip-Hop audience. However, there is something for everyone as the Elton John piano-laced “All of the Lights” has serious crossover potential as a single and promo for athletic events of all kinds. Super Bowl maybe?

If you find any issuse with the album it might that there are too many collaborations. A solid verse from Kanye seems to be forgotten by the verbal torture that is Fergie’s verse on “All of the Lights”. Although entirely warranted, Kanye’s verses on “Runaway” also seemed to be eclipsed by Pusha T, one-half of the rap duo Clipse and the newest addition to a very compelling roster of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music. “Invisibly set, the Rolex is faceless/i’m just young , rich and tasteless,” he raps. However, Kanye is the artist in the spotlight here, as his own production and self-conscious rhymes tell the story the media hasn’t been able to tell. This is a man still finding his place in the world and he is sharing his gifts and talents with us – his music.

“Could we get much higher?” the Mike Oldfield-sampling “Dark Fantasy” asks. The answer is, surprisingly, yes. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy marks Kanye West’s return to Hip-Hop and his rise to the top of Rap supremacy.

I would recommend this album to anyone who wants to hear something different form the normal radio hits, who enjoy next level tpye production and who were fans of Kanye’s The College Dropout, Late Registration, & Graduation. This album right here is a classic and for once gives us all something nice to say about the Chi Town MC Mr. West.

Brancho B.