After hours of deliberation and chair tossing, the TRU Brain Trust finally weighed in on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Dive in for the verdict.
The Panel: Andrew Schweizer, Jaap, Sketch the Journalist, Nahshon, and yours truly.
At this point, my money’s on none of his plastic still says Kayne.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy seems to be a very logical progression since 808s & Heartbreak. The album is stitched together through the music, Kanye focusing his efforts on production value and lifestyle-based storytelling, though a portion of the content seems to be dedicated to not-so-subtle jabs at a few individuals who have crossed paths with him, e.g. Trey Parker/Matt Stone.
The use of instrumentation, the taming of the auto tune, and better balanced content makes the album very listenable and Ye’s talent as a producer is quite evident. – Andrew Schweizer
Music needs a bit of craziness in it every now and then to keep it from becoming stagnant. Ironically, record labels don’t seem to bank on craziness most of the time since it’s also seen as a risk to their investment. Enter Kanye, who’s achieved a level of fame and fortune that now allows him to indulge every whim, and that he does (as also evidenced by his recent directorial debut). There are parts of Kanye’s new album which have an almost Louis XIV level of ridiculous opulence to it. For example, recruiting legendary Wu producer/MC Rza to vocally do nothing more than spit a few lines of an otherwise unimpressive chorus on “So Apalled,” or getting Elton John for a similar contribution on “All Of The Lights.”
Such antics might have hindered the album if Kanye wasn’t still so full of ideas and genuine creativity. Like the hectic drum pattern on “All Of The Lights,” the borderline-corny but somehow bangin’ Black Sabbath interpolating hook on “Hell Of A Life” or the simple elegance and hypnotic piano keys of “Runaway.” I could name examples for days. On “Monster,” he even reinvigorates Jay out of the creative sleepwalk he’s been in since Blueprint 3. There’s enough originality on this album to fuel the copycats for the coming year at the least. Kanye not only breaks the mold, he takes a f-cking sledgehammer to it. – Jaap
With My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye reminds us that hip hop music can tell stories and process emotions beyond “This is a live party” and “I’m a good and rich rapper.”
With this epic (I’m including The Runaway film and G.O.O.D. Friday drops), ‘Ye seems to be shooting for a romantic comedy / horror film mashup. In nearly every song, the narrator describes how he is his own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining relationships of any consequence. As a cause or effect, he must continue to seek fulfillment of both flesh and spirit. Sadly, our protagonist misunderstands the true path to those ends and crassly (but accurately) summarizes his quest as “pussy and religion is all I need.”
The soundtrack to our tale is simultaneously sinister and thrilling.
It’s art with heart, but definitely not an instructional video.
Sidenote: I was never really impressed with Nicki Minaj. But after hearing her slaughter the final verses of MBDTF’s “Monster” (with Rawse, “Malcolm West”, and Jigga proceeding), that’s changed. I think we just witnessed another Busta Rhymes “Scenario” moment. – Sketch the Journalist
I like the fact that the rapper who makes the best albums in the genre is not the best rapper in the genre. The immoderate pageantry of Mr. West’s personal life is only publicly tolerated because of his ability to encapsulate his experience into near musical perfection. MBDTF is like an award-winning photograph of a horrific tragedy in a beautiful frame. – Nahshon
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye in all his comedic, philosophical, self-congratulating beauty. Aside from the occasional gratuitous misogyny, it’s a spellbinding piece. This is the sound of your record player smiling after an ecstatic release. Anyone who claims otherwise has never had sex with a pharaoh. – Rizoh