Friday, November 26, 2010

Thoughts on Kanye's Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


Wanted to say a few words about Kanye's new album, as I'm currently streaming it and deciding whether I want it in my music library. I feel like I should, since I have pretty much every other Kanye song in my iTunes, but if that's my first and only reason for wanting this album in its entirety, then Houston, we have a problem.


Firstly, when I listen to this album, my only thought is "Late Registration 2.0". It's a huge upgrade, no doubt, but it's not a new model, you know? I've noticed recently that as a music lover, I'm constantly looking for new sounds, and failing that, music that appeals to more than my ears. If I get the feeling that I've heard it before, it has less of an effect on me. This album would have had more impact had I not listened to (and bought! oy vey) Late Registration. 

Also, when I listen to the album, I'm very aware of the dearth of emotion in it. I think Korean music has changed my musical tastes, because now I look for some sort of emotion in my music, and rap doesn't really give that to me anymore, save a few artists. My one critique of Kanye's music is that it could be so much more if he put more of himself in it. No one can think they're f-ing amazing all the time - people go through highs and lows. And it's when those highs and lows and the feelinsg between them gets put into a creative endeavor that great art comes about, because it speaks to the listener and attaches itself to a memory or a feeling and it becomes personal, and of so much more value to that person. Great art, in my opinion, has soul. Kanye has put together a technically astounding album - he took what he learned from his 808s and Heartbreaks sabbatical and made a new and improved version of his original style, and boy does it ever sound good. (If you don't have Koss Stereophones, you're missing out - hearing the sounds come in separately from the left and right channels might just change the way you think about these songs forever.) It's just the soul that's lacking. I do think Kanye has a soul - I just think he's afraid of really exploring it and exposing it to the world. Or doing it again, if you consider 808s his emo album.

Individually, there are some tracks that get to me, like "Blame Game" (save the ending... ugh) and certain parts of "Runaway", but everything else is just technically amazing, not on the whole amazing. There are also songs that offend me slightly, like "Lost In The World", which samples Bon Iver's "In the Woods". It's genius, but irreverent in some way, because I feel that the ghostlike, soul-baring essence of the original song is lost under a hot beat. The difference between the two songs is basically the reason I can't give this album a 10/10. I listen to it, and enjoy it, but when the song ends, I turn my Korean music back on and move on with my life, unchanged, without the brief moment of silence that comes after I've just listened to a really good song.

My opinion is only my opinion, in the end, but I felt like putting it out there because I feel that Kanye hasn't really earned the "greatest artist in the world" crown for me. I respect his talent, and I think I will add MBDTF to my library as a sign of that respect, to acknowledge how far he's come as a producer (and an artist in a sense) but I can't give him the props he's looking for. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy seems like it's trying to convince us (and itself) that it's a great piece of art, when it still has places to go. I give it a 9/10. Good job, Kanye.

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