“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Album Review

When mountain climbing, don't forget to bring your $300K chain and microphone

When I was three, I took a black piece of construction paper, drew a line down the middle with a white crayon and told my teacher I was finished with my art project. Fifteen years later, I saw the same piece of art, by a different artist, for sale in a Seattle art gallery for $15,000. The artist’s early works are entirely different from his current stuff. Instead of trendy modern pieces like the white-on-black I described, his first pieces are beautiful landscapes that are much more intricate than his current fare.

Now let’s talk about Kanye West.

Just a few years ago, Kanye was new on the scene with hits like “Through the Wire” and “Jesus Walks”. He rocked pink polos. He drank Cristal. He was a rapper.

Now, he shows up at the VMA’s wearing a $300,000 chain shaped like Horus with a matching pyramid style knuckle-ring. He wears a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone. There’s an entire episode of South Park dedicated to his douche-baggery.

So, how does his latest album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” fit into all of this? Well, in cases like these, it usually helps to check out the first track. “Dark Fantasy” sure as hell ain’t your typical rap. Sure, Ye talks about his “Murcielago”, his “bravado”, and “Chi-town where the Nines flow” but the hook sounds like a guest contribution from Queen with its epic chanting sound. In that regard, “Dark Fantasy” does a good job of setting up the rest of the album, which on the whole is pretty epic.

It’s undeniable that West’s increased celebrity has given him tons of pull when it comes to guest appearances but unlike his debut album “The College Dropout” in which guests were limited to hip-hop artists like Ludacris and Talib Kweli, “MBDTF” showcases the talents of artists from many genres. Among the stars: John Legend and Bon Iver. The third single from the album, which Ye described – in typical big-ego fashion -as being “completely seamless and completely ghetto as f***” has contributions from Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Fergie, John Legend, The Dream, Tony Williams, Kid Cudi, Charlie Wilson, Ryan Leslie, and La Roux’s Elly Jackson. Keep in mind, all those people are on just one track out of the album’s thirteen.

West gets the album’s singles out of the way early with “Power”, “Monster” and “All Of the Lights” coming within the first six tracks. For those searching for the Kanye of old, look no further than these three cuts. With their rap guests and catchy hooks, they typify the sound that made Kanye famous. However, the meat of the album comes from cross-genre tracks like “Runaway” and “Lost in the World” which serve to induce much head scratching as opposed to foot-tapping.

Just like that artist I encountered in Seattle, Kanye has become famous enough to do basically whatever he wants in regards to his music. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is definitely a departure from what hip-hop fans have come to expect from well-known rappers but maybe that’s a good thing. As a recorder and producer, West has been known to push the envelope more than others. Let’s let him do his thing and see what he comes up with. If we don’t like it, we can always turn off the “Power”.