The Rundown with Aryez
“My Beautiful dark Twisted Fantasy”
There has been quite a stir within the music industry these days from ex-presidents and media anchors beefing with rappers, to album covers being banned in certain stores, to artists cancelling high-profile holiday concerts, and- wait, we’re only talking about Kanye West, right?
When we last saw Yeezy he had released the 2008 “808s & Heartbreak” in which he classified as his “pop” album and though many of his listeners were divided about the stylistic change with his use of the auto-tune processor and his singing, he still managed to sell 450,145 copies in its first week release and debuted number one on the Billboard 200 chart. Two years later, he’s back with his fifth installment “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Is “…Twisted Fantasy” something listeners can relate to in reality or is it just that- a fantasy that Kanye should keep to himself? Let’s review in this edition of the Rundown with Aryez…
Upon his return, Kanye came equipped with a few items that work well to his advantage including the exceptional use of live instrumentation, collaborations with contemporary and modern artists and producers, and most importantly, his imagination. On the albums’ introductory track “Dark Fantasy” produced by West himself, No I.D. (Common, Jay Z) and the RZA (Raekwon, The GZA), he retrieves an animated Nicki Minaj to portray a storyteller, which sets the tone for the album proclaiming on the chorus “Can we get much higher?!”. “Gorgeous” featuring Raekwon and Kid Cudi is a conscious yet witty song where he easily delivers lines such as I treat the cash the way the government treats AIDS, I won’t be satisfied ‘til all my n***** get it, and This hip hop just a euphemism for a new religion/ the soul music of the slave that the youth is missin. For those who remember the hip hop super group The Firm and their single “Phone Tap”, Gorgeous’ production will remind you exactly of that. The first official single of the album “Power” featuring Dwele and co-produced by S1 of the group Strange Fruit Project contains and combines heavy production elements of West’s own 2007 “Stronger” with its progressive rock-themed samples with the 2004 “Jesus Walks” chanting vocals. This can arguably be considered his best single since “Stronger”. If Kanye did a hip hop version of Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World”, “All of the Lights” would definitely fit the bill as he enlists the likes of The Dream, Ryan Leslie, Fergie, Rhianna, and even Elton John (to name a few) to become an all-star choir cast roaring to be heard over the machine gun-like drum pattern he laces on the hook that actually complement one another. “Monster” and “So Appalled” are both tracks that Kanye reminds his listeners that lyrically he will outshine his features or at the very least prove that he has always been more than just a producer stating I’m so appalled, Spalding ball/ baldin, Donald Trump takin dollars from yall/ Baby you’re a five and your girlfriend higher/ if you don’t mind I’ma keep you on call with Jay Z, Pusha T, Prince Cy Hi and others on his self-produced “So Appalled”.
Other notable songs that are good listens include the Bink (Jay Z, Freeway) produced “Devil in a Dress” featuring Rick Ross pitting religion and sexual temptation head to head. “Runaway” is his harmonious, All-my-haters-can-piss-off track with a sharp piano chord. John Legend lends his voice on the “Blame Game” which has Kanye arguing with himself on deciding whether or not to remain in a strained relationship. Some may say his inspiration for this song spawned from his seemingly turbulent break up with model Amber Rose. Either or, the arrangements of the violin and the piano along with the effects added to Kanye’s vocals make this song cinematic and the listener can build a clear visual of it.
It is evident that Kanye wants to leave his fans with an experience unlike any he has left before, not only from the music itself but it is expressed in how he has branded this project, offering five different album covers to choose from that correlate with the thirty-five minute short film that showcases most of the album’s tracks. The branding for most artists typically either overate the album or simply isn’t even there but in this case everything falls in place for Kanye when it comes to the music itself, the packaging, marketing & promotion and the direction he wants to take the listener (maybe that should be the case since it was reported he used about three million dollars of Def Jam’s money to coordinate the project). Possibly the only mild weakness can stand in the slight overpopulating of featured artists on “…Twisted Fantasy” and not only did they feature but some even twice including Jay Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Kid Cudi and Pusha T. Ye’ is strong enough to carry himself by now so he actually doesn’t even need to have so many heavy hitters on HIS album.
Originally, it was expected he would name this album G.O.O.D A** Job but later changed its name for unspecified reasons. Hearing this album, you get a feel that he is becoming more comfortable with expressing his artistic abilities musically and visually and it is definitely something hip hop needs with its somewhat socially-conscious resurrection on the horizon from new coming artists such as J. Cole, Drake, Kid Kudi and Big Sean. You may not be a big fan of the publicity stunts he’s known to pull and even Obama thinks of him to be a “jacka**” since his Taylor Swift incident, but at the end of the day his music is undeniable. He would have done the album a disservice calling it Good A** Job when this can be listed as a “Phenomenal A** Job”. This is an album in which big sales should be far from any fantasy for Kanye’s star-studded reality.
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