Editors, Brand New, Kanye West, The Hold Steady, and Simon and Garfunkel…


Mr. West is in the building.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Released: November 23rd, 2010.

Rolling Stone began their review of this album with no finer, or truer, words: “Being crazy is this guys job, and from the sound of his music, business is booming.”  From the opening track to its finish, this album explores the depths of Kanye’s mind as he seeks to take apart the shimmering façade of fame and to show the truth behind it.  It seems only fitting that the album opens with a female narrator, eerily reminiscent of Brothers Grimm, she warns: “You might think you’ve picked a scene, you haven’t, the real one’s far too mean, the watered down one, the one you know, was made up centuries ago, they made it sound all whack and corny, yes, it’s awful, blasted boring; twisted fiction, sick addiction, well gather around children, zip it, listen.”

Once we drop down the rabbit hole, Kanye shifts from genre to genre.  However, he does not hesitate to uncover new ways of melding rock to hip hop, disco to soulful R&B, even adding tribal drums, so that each track runs smoothly into the next.  Where he went with sparse instrumentation in 808s, Kanye brings the big guns and makes everything bold and beautiful in Fantasy.  One of the best tracks on the album is “All of the Lights” which features guest vocals from Rihanna.  Effortlessly, Kanye brings together hip-hop club beats, an entire brass section, and classical piano all within five minutes.  Another phenomenal track is “Monster,” in which Nicki Minaj steals attention from other big hitters, Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who also lend their words.

Lyrically his arrogance is still there, although there are moments of self-reflection where his grandiose confidence is called into question.  The theme that keeps resurfacing throughout the album is the negative side to being such a commercial success, whether it is how he is viewed in the media, or how it affects his relationships.  This is most clear on the lead single “Runaway” where he sings, “I don’t know what it is with females/But I’m not too good at that shit/See, I could have had me a good girl/And still be addicted to them hoodrats/And I just blame everything on you/At least you know that’s what I’m good at”.  Echoing his words, the prickling piano seem like a clock ticking, as if counting down the moments until his lady-love leaves.  He tells her to run away, but conversely opens up and says he doesn’t know what he’ll do when she does.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an exceptional album.  Kanye went big and bold with the music, and let his emotions show, raw and real.  On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye combines his talents with an impressive line-up of musical guests, including Rihanna, Bon Iver, Fergie, Elton John, John Legend, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Kid Cudi, and others.  Despite how he acts in the public eye, one thing is for certain, Kanye is a visionary and musical genius.

Recommended tracks: “All of the Lights,” “Monster,” “Runaway,” and “Lost in the World“.