First Impressions: Enter Into Kanye West's 'Fantasy'

Monday, November 29, 2010

Better late than never.

When the reviews came rolling in for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I pretty much had that glazed look of stupor on my face akin to Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. 5 stars here. 10 out of 10 there. Critics barely batted an eye tossing out words and phrases like "greatest", "fantastic", "game changer"...terms usually uttered by the music snobbery brigade in reserve for indie bands that are shrouded in mystery---not a mainstream hip-hop star. It seemed that there was a spell cast over every reviewer with writing comprehension...or everyone was just trying not to get on Kanye West's bad side, because we all know how he can be when provoked.... Still, there was 100 % pure love for an album that seemed overrated right when West announced the change of title from Good Ass Job to the long-winded title of West's state of being.

The intrigue had commenced.

I'm not going to spend a whole review, like many, discussing Mr. West's "enigma" or why folks love to hate's thickly spread throughout this album. Yet, West has permission to puff his chest out like the Foghorn Leghorn he is all he wants for the next few months because, well, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is good and it walks all that talk that flies out of West's yap.

From Nicki Minaj's bizarro nursery rhyme tirade on the opener "Dark Fantasy", she then sort of tips her top hat into West's circus, and from that point on you can immediately tell that Kanye seriously sat down and thought about every cranny of this album. MBDTF is experimental and dressed up elaborately in some sense, but not to a fault like 2008's 808's and Heartbreak was. It features a grocery list of guest stars of varying proportions  (John Legend, Gil-Scott Heron, Minaj, Rihanna, Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Elly Jackson of La Roux, Fergie, Chris Rock, The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson...and oh, yeah, Elton al) are included, yet this is all about West. 

Most songs are instant attractions while others give you room to grow into. Highlights include a handful of pickings from his G.O.O.D. Friday free music program ("Devil In A New Dress" featuring the Grimace of rap, Rick Ross, and the Minaj show stealing, "Monster") as well as "All of The Lights", a delicious single in the making with it's brass backing and its boom of guest star power.

More to my taste are the tracks that rock on the fine line of pop accessibility. Songs like the quiet rise of  "Lost In The World" are impressive with it's chugging clang of African-inspired percussion that blends superbly into Gil-Scott Heron's raging monologue of "Who Will Survive In America". Another is "Power" which still stands in a Goliath stance with it's King Crimson loop and Kanye's declaration of verbal independence. Even though Chris Rock overstays his welcome in his monologue on the the brooding "Blame Game", John Legend's addition gives the track a hefty soul stirring lift, making it one of my top three tracks off of here. 

The nine-minute long "toast to the douchebags" "Runaway" is here in all of its glory, acting as the nougat center of the whole record. As we all know, "Runaway" got an elaborate treatment with it's 40-minute long My Fair Lady homage that showed off the dinner jacket wearing bourgeois. Even still the track remains the central theme of what West's Fantasy was concocted to be.

Aside from the gimmicks of ballerinas dancing in our heads and the artsy-fartsy hand on chin hobbies that West has become embroiled in, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy coasts along in a concise and carefully minded sphere of sound. It plays by some rules and then breaks a few as hip-hop albums for the most part don't tend to sound quite like this. While his 2004 debut, College Dropout will always be my favorite from him and was that warning bomb of his descent, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has West changing his war path---actually for the better.

On par epic long opuses with live instrumental back-up and an overall concept of West wrestling with his inner demons, things that are typical and manic territory for West, but somehow on this one he has finally found out how to really handle making a hip-hop album that is enjoyable for not just long-time self-professed hip-hop heads, but an album that everyone can pretty much assemble towards. Dare I say that the album, like so few nowadays, is an event again?

Rating: 9.4/10
Released: November 23, 2010


  1. loved your review.

    this album is definitely a win! "blame game", "all of the lights", and "monster" are my favorites. kudos to kanye.

  2. Thanks! :)

    I love love those tracks you listed. Kanye really put his foot into this production.


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