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Album Review: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

posted Mar 25, 2011, 10:01 PM by Golden Knight

By Christian Romo


one of six alternate covers for the album

Say what you want about Kanye West, you can’t deny that he’s talented. His debut album The College Dropout came out of nowhere from a man best known for producing one hit song for Jay-Z. Every PR stunt that followed was a mess, from his debacle during a Hurricane Katrina relief effort telethon to his ill-timed interruption of the VMAs and America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift. It seemed the only things keeping Kanye afloat were his superb albums (especially Graduation) and his circle of friends. 808’s and Heartbreak, his previous attempt, showed a flawed and anguished side of him that wasn’t well received. After troubles with numerous women and his self-imposed seclusion, one of my good friends ominously pointed out, “If he doesn’t come out hard with his next album, he’s done.”

Kanye West is not done. With the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it’s clear that he is the best in the game right now. Whoever you thought held the throne before needs to quietly exit and let Mr. West take his rightful seat.

He foresaw his eventual reign with his summer release of “Power”, a powerfully heavy song filled with all of the ironies and attractions of being on top. His second single “Runaway” was the only entertaining performance of the 2010 VMAs as he redeemed himself in the presence of those appropriately under him. We’ll be expecting his next inevitable single, “All of the Lights”, a collaboration with pop princesses Rihanna and Fergie, pretty soon.

What makes this album phenomenal, however, is the return to Kanye’s original production style. On “Gorgeous”, he puts in a Hendrix-esque guitar lick that sounds completely unlike anything in rap today. On “Monster”, he keeps it uncluttered and allows for the wordplay of himself, Jay-Z, and up-and-comer Nicki Manaj to shine.

“Devil in a New Dress” may be his best, and most worrying, song yet. He attaches a Smokey Robinson sample to set the tone of heartbreak, but he doesn’t hold back on his cynical feelings of women as heart wrenching money grabbers. It’s an almost lethal combination when someone as sensitive as Kanye has the audacity to say what he wants (especially on a record), but his accomplishment on the track shows that suffering really does breed talent.

The crux of his feelings toward women can be found on “Blame Game”: “you aren’t perfect, but you make life worth it/stick around and some real feelings might surface”. It’s this confliction that gives him the inspiration to slow it down with soft man John Legend (and the final two minutes with Chris Rock give the album the comic relief that couldn’t be found earlier).

The jewel of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, however, can be found in the last two songs, “Lost in the World” and “Who Will Survive in America?” Bon Iver leads an a capella harmony that segways into a cacophony of African rhythms and rising melodies, but eventually leads into some of the saddest eight bars in rap. The final words of struggle and small but spirited applause at the finale end the album right, and I found myself joining the few people at the end of the final track in celebration for what Kanye West has finally released. A