November 23, 2010

My Gut Reaction: Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (November 22, 2010)


For those of you two in the States, you can relax: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has finally dropped. You can resume your normal Thanksgiving holiday as scheduled.  Everyone else in the world...um, enjoy your usual Thursday, I guess.

You're already familiar with the backstory for how Kanye West recorded his comeback album, so I'll only hit the high points for the sake of filling in some blank space. After interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye decided to take some time off to find himself, not unlike what young twenty-somethings do after they finish college but are unaware of the pressures the real world will impose. This wasn't surprising, as his mother had passed away recently, but Kanye never really got a chance to mourn, and on top of that, he apparently also broke up with a long-term girlfriend, which inspired his departure from hip hop, his Auto-Tuned 808's & Heartbreak, which I still say is much better than what most people give it credit for.

After bumming around the world for a while (being filthy rich affords you such luxuries), 'Ye quietly decided that what he really wanted to do was record another rap album. He found a studio in Hawaii that would be perfect for his needs: it provided space for productivity, but if he ever needed a break, he was already in one of the world's top vacation destinations, and also there's a lot of different type of weed that can be purchased there. However, upon his arrival, he was tricked by a local into completing three difficult tasks before he could access the studio's front door.

He completed the first, talking a suicidal bear down off of a window ledge, with ease, thanks to the assistance of a freshly-baked homemade pie that he carried around in his car for such an occasion. The second task proved a bit more challenging, as he was forced to judge a talent competition where the contestants were made up of space aliens from another galaxy: Kanye had to overcome both the obvious language barrier and his hatred of Spin Doctors standards, which seemed to dominate the proceedings. The third task coerced him into kidnapping an entire ballet company from Paris, which he accomplished by donning a fake wig and pretending to be Kurtis Blow, scouting performers for a bar mitzvah. Afterwards, he wasn't really sure what he was supposed to do with the ballerinas, so he decided to employ them himself as his newest backup dancers-slash-weed carriers.

After finally gaining the keys, 'Ye locked himself in the studio and decided to call up a slew of hip hop heavies to join him during the recording process of what was once supposed to be called Good Ass Job, but instead ended up being My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Names such as DJ Premier, The RZA, Pete Rock, and Madlib were thrown around with careless abandon, as they were all allegedly providing production for a guy who was already a producer-slash-rapper in his own right. Lord only knows what happened to those sessions: only Prince Rakeem made the final cut of the album, as Kanye suddenly realized that he embodies every characteristic of the egotistic and should probably handle the majority of the production for what was supposed to be his return to hip hop. He wasn't afraid of stacking the deck when it came to guests, however: in addition to the likes of Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Fergie, and Rihanna, all of whom would guarantee some extra scans for Def Jam Records (who allegedly spent over five million dollars on the recording of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), Kanye also invited Raekwon, Elton John (no, seriously), La Roux's Elly Jackson, Chris Rock, Bon Iver, The-Dream, Drake, Ryan Leslie, and his own protégées John Legend, KiD CuDi, Big Sean (on a bonus track only), CyHi Da Prince, and his newest G.O.O.D. Music signee, Pusha T (from the coke-rap duo the Clipse).
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy leaked earlier this month, and overwhelmingly positive reviews came flooding in almost immediately, with many claiming this to be Kanye's masterpiece. (Side question: how many of you two actually enjoyed the thirty-five minute short film-slash-music video for "Runaway" (that's included in the deluxe release), and how many of you found it to be mildly interesting but mostly insufferable, like me?) The man is absolutely capable of putting out some compelling music: I will say that I did not see this career trajectory coming when he first spit his rhymed through a jaw that was wired shut after a near-fatal car accident (see: “Through The Wire”). But is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a rap album sequenced as a bleak fairytale describing the rise of a successful artist and the not-entirely-irrational fears that drive his everyday actions, really worthy of all of the praise it's been getting?

Well?

1. DARK FANTASY (FEAT. NICKI MINAJ, BON IVER, AMBER ROSE, & TEYANA TAYLOR)
After some bullshit introduction from the phony English-accented Nicki Minaj (who sounds about as bad as Madonna did when she was married to Guy Ritchie) that was also used for the "Runaway" short film-slash-music video, and a brief-but-pleasant chorus, Kanye West presents listeners with the best RZA beat that was never given to the Wu-Tang Clan. (The production is also credited to 'Ye and No I.D., but it's fairly obvious who did what.) Yeezy takes to the beat as if he never stopped rhyming in the first place, spitting two verses that are catchy as fuck (the “Too many Urkels on your team, that's why your wins-low” line, which also appeared during his BET freestyle cypher, still makes me laugh), so it's clear that he was relishing the opportunity to pretend that he was a legitimate part of the Clan. This is a fantastic way to kick things off, even with the bizarre spoken-word third verse added in midway through. I only wish that RZA's beat contained harder drums, so that it would have that much more of an impact when it finally kicks in. Oh well. I still loved this shit.

2. GORGEOUS (FEAT. KID CUDI, RAEKWON, & TONY WILLIAMS)
It seems more than a bit blasphemous to not include Raekwon on the song that The RZA co-produced, but whatever. The title of this song makes absolutely no sense, but aside from that minor complaint, this isn't bad, mainly because of the funky instrumental (handled by 'Ye, No I.D., and Mike Dean) and our host's three verses, in which he comes across as more lyrical than ever before. (He even uses up a bar to attack “a South Park writer with a fish stick”; based on this evidence and 'Ye's attack on Saturday Night Live during “Power”, it's obvious that he watches too much television.) CuDi, as always, is nowhere near essential for the song to be successful (yeah, I said it), but he only handles the chorus, which could have been worse. However, no matter how hard he tries, Kanye is outshined by the aforementioned guest star Chef Raekwon, who delivers a characteristically sleepy verse, but still manages to sound good because 'Ye had the brilliant idea of slightly distorting the vocals, so that you're hanging onto his every word instead of worrying about his overall health. “Ye does the same for his own vocals, too, so the consistency definitely adds to the overall experience.

3. POWER (FEAT. DWELE)
There isn't much I can say about “Power”, the first single from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, that I haven't already written, but I do still like it today. I do wonder if 'Ye will ever release the version with the alternate second verse that he performed on SNL. But it's not important enough for me to care for more than three sentences.

4. ALL OF THE LIGHTS (INTERLUDE)
A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable musical interlude. Although I appreciate the fact that 'Ye was considerate enough to isolate it from the actual song it shares a title with, I actually wouldn't mind if the two tracks were combined.

5. ALL OF THE LIGHTS (FEAT. RIHANNA, ALICIA KEYS, FERGIE, THE-DREAM, RYAN LESLIE, ELTON JOHN, CHARLIE WILSON, KID CUDI, JOHN LEGEND, TONY WILLIAMS, DRAKE, ALVIN FIELDS, KEN LEWIS, & ELLY JACKSON)
Kanye West throws a dinner party, and instead of asking his guests to bring different dishes, he insists that they all contribute to this one song, which gives “All Of The Lights” the distinction of having the most bizarre guest list I've seen this week. (This track rivals some of the G.O.O.D. Friday releases when it comes to random combinations of artists.) Early word on this song, which leaked in several different versions before now (the leak pissed 'Ye off so much that he threatened to shut down the G.O.O.D. Friday offerings for good, but he had a change of heart after hearing the overall response) was fucking amazing, and I will say that I walked away from this final version with this shit stick in my head. But while the (awesome) instrumental and the female vocals mostly connect (even though my wife mentioned that she's sick of hearing Rihanna pop up on every rap song ever, a sentiment I strongly agree with), the male vocalists are all lost in the shuffle, aside from two: KiD CuDi channels Krayzie Bone for some reason, and Elton John manages to fit in pretty well. Also, the rhymes on here are alarmingly weak. Fergie's short verse is pretty bad and entirely horrible (par for the course for her, I must say), but the true offender on here is Kanye himself, whose verses are borderline horseshit. (The only line of his I liked was, “Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me (in that order)” (parentheses mine).) But I'll probably still play this song over and over again, as it does sound celebratory as fuck, and since it's supposed to be the next single, I'm sure I'll get sick of this track eventually. For now, though, I like it a lot, although I flat-out don't understand why some critics believe 'Ye's line “I'm headed home / I'm almost there” is so deep when it really isn't. Sadly, this song was very clearly recorded in small components and assembled together in the studio, so you will never hear The-Dream talk about what it was like to work alongside Elton John.

6. MONSTER (FEAT. JAY-Z, NICKI MINAJ, BON IVER, & RICK ROSS)
“Monster” is the first disappointment on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but not because it's a bad song or anything. Aside from a few newer flourishes, this is the exact same song that 'Ye unleashed as part of the G.O.O.D. Friday series. There are no new verses, and Rick Ross isn't suddenly rendered more interesting or anything: his intro actually sounds more unnecessary, if that's even possible. Although I'm still not a fan of hers, I've grown to appreciate the fact that Nicki Minaj stays on topic with her verse (even though it sounds like it was performed by approximately six of her multiple personalities), something that Kanye doesn't even bother to do. (He will “put the pussy in a sarcophagus”, though. Which absolutely doesn't mean what he wants it to mean.) The beat is still pretty good (if not exactly monstrous), and the performances from all the players (except Officer Ricky) are still a delight. My favorite part of this song is how one could easily misinterpret Jay-Z's lyrics: after he runs down a list of classic movie monsters, it's almost as though he tacks on “Christians” before asking “What do these all have in common?”. (And yes, I'm aware that Hova actually says “Question”. It's a joke, people.) Oddly, Charlie Wilson shared billing on the G.O.O.D. Friday track, and I swear I can still hear his vocals on the album version, but he isn't listed in the credits anywhere. Weird.

7. SO APPALLED (FEAT. JAY-Z, PUSHA T, CYHI DA PRINCE, THE RZA, & SWIZZ BEATZ)
The best G.O.O.D. Friday song thus far (yes, in my mind, this just edges out “Chain Heavy”) doesn't necessarily fit on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but this song is so fucking awesome that I really don't care. I'd love to see a video for this, maybe done as a direct sequel to Hova's “Run This Town”, given the similar sample and dark tones shared between the tracks. Jay-Z turns in the best guest verse on the entire album, with Pusha T coming in a close second. (The more talkative half of the Clipse even gets a slightly more majestic ending to his verse that he did on the free version, but it leads into an bonus Swizz Beatz recitation, so there is a downside.) It turns out that I didn't get my wish: The RZA still only does a glorified hook. But everyone with an actual verse sounds great over this dramatic, poignant instrumental. One of the best songs of the fucking year.

8. DEVIL IN A NEW DRESS (FEAT. RICK ROSS)
I thought this was the weakest G.O.O.D. Friday song when I did my write-up, but that was a bit of an unfair judgment, since what 'Ye leaked was an incomplete song. So here is the full version, which now inexplicably features a verse from Rick Ross, albeit one that is isolated from the rest of the track, so it sounds more like an afterthought than a true collaborative effort. Bink!'s instrumental still sounds like a poor early-Kanye West imitation (although I liked the mid-song instrumental break), and Officer Ricky's verse isn't anything special (I don't see the appeal, and the fact that he now seems to ad-lib “uh” within his verses like The Notorious B.I.G. used to do makes me want to Hulk out), so maybe my original opinion is still valid: this is still pretty weak. It is what it is.

9. RUNAWAY (FEAT. PUSHA T, THE-DREAM, & TONY WILLIAMS)
Kanye takes his second single and goes all art-house on us, stretching it out to nine minutes in length by adding some annoying piano keys at the very beginning (so as to continue to concept of his live performances of the song, in which he appears to be crafting the a on the spot), throwing in some of the sampled vocals (huzzah!) from the live performances, changing the “girl” in his second bar to a “bitch” (that's a curious edit, by the way: it's not as though the song was clean before, so why alter that now? Maybe he was just trying to be more of an douchebag), and tacking on the same Auto-Tuned coda that you heard in the "Runaway" short film, in which it sounds like the machines have both become sentient and are dying from emphysema. So he kinda-sorta fucked up a great song. It's still okay, but there was really no reason that he should have allowed his artistic tendencies to get the best of him in this way. Besides, we'll always have the single edit. Pusha T still sounds fantastic on here, though.

10. HELL OF A LIFE (FEAT. TEYANA TAYLOR & THE-DREAM)
Our host's instrumental on here is fucking awesome, but the lyrics leave me feeling empty, since Kanye's hedonistic tendencies get the best of him, turning some of his bars into a poorly written Penthouse Forum letter. The beat on here is so sleazy-good that you may have to steam clean Yeezy's sperm out of your carpet after you're done listening to it. Also, the man should absolutely step the fuck away from the Auto-Tune (which he uses to sing his own chorus), and I say that even though I actually liked 808's & Heartbreak a great deal. The track is also a bit too long for its own good. But the music on here is so fucking good, it comes pretty close to overriding all of my criticism.

11. BLAME GAME (FEAT. JOHN LEGEND, CHRIS ROCK, & SALMA KENAS)
An early tracklisting of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy listed Pusha T as a collaborator for this track, so I was a bit disappointed to find that he isn't actually on here. This track is nearly eight minutes long because of an extended interlude at the end, but the music on here is so fucking great that I didn't mind. Kanye and John Legend (who sings the words “bitch” and “motherfucker” as if he was Motown's answer to Nate Dogg) use the melancholy piano keys and strings (liberally borrowed from Aphex Twin's “Avril 14th”)to stare objectively at a dying relationship, and this shit is actually pretty powerful stuff. Which is why it's almost derailed when Chris Rock appears at the end as the other man, but luckily that risk ultimately pays off, since he's funny, but not so funny that he distracts the listener from the overall point of the song. Thanks to the music, this is some gut-wrenching stuff. Kudos, 'Ye.

12. LOST IN THE WORLD (FEAT. BON IVER)
“Paranoid” was the song on 808's & Heartbreak that could qualify as a club banger: “Lost In The World” is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's bid. I understand that's an odd generalization to make, given that this song features samples from both Bon Iver (“The Woods” - although he also appears on the song itself, so that's interesting) and Gil Scott Heron's “Comment #1”, but it's true. This track certainly isn't bad, as it beautifully encompasses 'Ye's growing disconnect with the world around him, but it only really consists of one verse and a shitload of distractions.

13. WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA (FEAT. BON IVER, CHARLIE WILSON, KAY FOX, TONY WILLIAMS, ALICIA KEYS, & ELLY JACKSON)
The Gil Scott Heron sample that was used on the last track plays out a bit longer to act as an outro to both “Lost In The World” and the album in general. You two should already know how I feel about spoken word outros, but the fact that 'Ye set this one to music makes it interesting to hear at least the once.

The iTunes version of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy contains the following bonus track.

14. SEE ME NOW (FEAT. BEYONCE, CHARLIE WILSON, & BIG SEAN)
“See Me Now” was a terrible song that 'Ye leaked himself, and he was so encouraged by the response that he decided to create the G.O.O.D. Friday series, so I guess some good came of it. However, I never liked this song because it sounds boring as shit. The album version features a newly mastered sound and an additional verse from 'Ye's apprentice Big Sean, who spends the majority of his time defending his boss, like a good lackey should. But the song itself is still not very interesting, unless, once again, you really need to hear Bey sing the word “n---a”. By the way, has Charlie Wilson officially signed to G.O.O.D. Music? He sure does pop up on the free leaks an awful lot.

There was word on the Interweb of additional iTunes-exclusive bonus tracks for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: “Chain Heavy”, “Mama's Boyfriend”, “Power (Remix)”, and “Pure”. This news turned out to be false, although I wouldn't be surprised if “Mama's Boyfriend” (a song 'Ye talked up during the recording process) and “Pure” (a collaboration with Mr. Hudson that nobody had ever even considered before it popped up on the fake tracklisting) ended up leaking down the line. (The other two tracks are already freely available as a part of G.O.O.D. Friday, although the “album” version of “Chain Heavy” was allegedly going to feature M.I.A., so who knows what will happen.)

THE LAST WORD: So is Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy the masterpiece that other critics are making it out to be? Unsurprisingly, not so much. 'Ye's return to hip hop makes for a really good album, at times even great, but it isn't an instant classic, as it's missing the cohesion necessary for the project to flow properly, thanks in part to our host's insistence on including a handful of the already-released G.O.O.D. Friday songs. (I wonder what this might have sounded like if, say, “Monster” was a bonus track, instead of being a part of the centerpiece.) Musically, Kanye's soundscapes (with occasional assists from others) sound like nothing else in our chosen genre: they don't even sound like anything the man has even done in the past, they are that forward-thinking. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy plays out as a “fuck you” to everyone else in hip hop, almost as though 'Ye is daring the rest of the industry to follow in the footsteps of his ridiculous artistic tendencies, which, admittedly, work more often than not. He even shows restraint by limiting the main program to thirteen tracks (well, eleven songs, a musical interlude, and an outro), so this is clearly not the same guy who recorded The College Dropout and Late Registration, even though he does share a social security number with that person. My biggest problem with the album is with the lyrics: although there are a handful of performances that push the boundaries of what Kanye is capable of (“Dark Fantasy”, “So Appalled”, and “Power” come to mind), there are songs on here that would look like a fucking joke when transcribed (“All Of The Lights” specifically, although the lone verse on “Lost In The World” also qualifies). Most of 'Ye's lines are singularly focused on fucking, a subject that has always sounded a bit forced when coming from him. However, the music built around those two examples is strong enough to overcome all obstacles, so that's just a minor quibble regarding what will probably become the hip hop album of the year. There are missteps, sure, and I was left wishing that he didn't rely on so many guest artists at times (even though most of the outside contributions were pretty goddamn good), but I enjoyed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, even though it isn't perfect. But was there any way it ever could have been, realistically? Good work, Kanye.

-Max

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Catch up on Kanye West here.

34 comments:

  1. Wow. You had a lot of things to say. That was a great review for a great album.

    I feel the same way for the most part, in the exception of the last three songs, I hate them, no, I H-A-T-E them even more than I hate Biggie (which means a motherfucking lot).
    I was pretty disappointed to see that Mos Def doesn't even have a hook while Rick Ross has two verses. Duh.

    I was also sure that you were going to mention the very short beef between Jigga and Hammer (following his lyrics on So Appalled), but I can't win every time.

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  2. I found this album to be incredibly underwhelming. All of the Lights turned out to be complete trash; Kanye's bars sound terrrrrrrible. I LOVED Dark Fantasy, though.

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  3. Your best review since The Chronic.

    Totally agree with you argument, this album is good but his best? Meh. I don't think it's as interesting as Late Registration but probably better than College Dropout and maybe on the same level as Graduation. I was amazed that Pitchfork gave it 10/10 'cause they usually know their stuff...

    Personally, I thought there was far too much Officer Ricky and maybe a tad too much Nicki Minaj (although I think she ain't as bad as loads of other "rappers")

    Agree with everything you said about "Blame Game" and "All of the Lights." The lyrics for the latter are ludicrous but somehow it's an amazing track. Also glad to see Elly Jackson on the album as I have a soft spot for La Roux.

    I am not feeling "Monster" and "So Appalled" is a bit messy (especially fucking Swizz Beatz again)but this album holds value.

    The one thing I was dissapointed about though was the Bonus Track. I really enjoyed Late Registration's "We Can Make It Better" as well as Graduation's "Bittersweet" and this album just didn't have a significant bonus track.

    Good Review.

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  4. Best review I've read on the album. How the hell is the album perfect, no way. But one of the most enjoyable albums I've heard all year, by all means.
    This Chris Rock appearance was kind of funny, but not really. Went on too long imo

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  5. @RedMagic: Right? Pitchfork is my favorite critique site, and I knew this album would be exactly what they wanted, but a 10? Wasn't the only other hip-hop album to earn a perfect 10 'Entroducing' by DJ Shadow?

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  6. Well done Max; as a plug for Kanye, I should mention that anyone who wants to buy the album can download the mp3 from Amazon for 3.99 (I prefer having a hardcopy, but whatever.)

    Although its still early, I feel this is better than every Kanye album except Late Registration (and I also liked 808's oddly.) I am a bit disappointed by Yeezy's excluding Chain Heavy as a bonus track though; that song was pretty damn good.

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  7. Q-Tip just confirmed Chain Heavy and Mama's Boyfriend as bonus tracks for later pressings of the album on Twitter.

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  8. Good review, Max. Really good stuff.

    This is some of the most ambitious producing I have ever heard on a hip hop album. The rhyming is weaker than I would like to admit, but I'm not really a Kanye fan for his lyrical prowess.

    Pilot Talk 2 came out on the 22nd as well. That's a good excuse to do Pilot Talk 1 & 2 next, right? Okay, it isn't really, but I still want to hear your thoughts.

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  9. Lyrically this album is garbage for the most part. The only thing that holds it up is Kanye's lucky production ability. And the fact that you rated the album this highly shows you're just another hip pop (yes hip pop) fan that can get captivated by a beat and a hook to formulate your opinion on something. I'll give it a month before you change your opinion on it.

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  10. fuck this album

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  11. "Dark Fantasy" being best RZA beat not given to Wu-Tang Clan?? Including "Graveyard Chamber", "Diary of a Madman", "What's Goin' On", "Tres Leches", "Just A Lil' Dude"??? Seriously??? Good production, but not the best, "Heart Of The Assassin" from Soul Assassins II was very similar, but better.

    PS. Please review "Kill Devil Hills". That was the best release this year for me.

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  12. If you're giving me a month before I change my opinion, you'll be waiting a long fucking time. This was, quite literally, my Gut Reaction to this album. I haven't yet revisited any of the other albums that I wrote up in this fashion, so this one probably won't be any different.

    However, my emphasis on the music over the lyrics actually doesn't make me a "hip pop" fan: in fact, it remains consistent with my perspective on music in general. The music itself has to be engaging for a song to work; otherwise, you're just listening to spoken word poetry, a point I've made multiple times. On this album, Kanye suffers from the opposite of Ras Kass syndrome: the music is appealing to listen to, but oftentimes, he adds absolutely nothing to the proceedings when it comes to his verses. And yet, some of these songs still work in spite of that, because the music helps the medicine go down.

    Banksta - technically, "Diary Of A Madman" is a Prince Paul production with additional work done by RZA. I realize that explanation makes no sense, since what is pretty much the same beat appeared on the Wu-Tang Demo Tape (I forget for which song), but I'm going by those standards. And I'm sticking with what I said: this beat worked for me much more than I thought it would.

    Thanks for reading!

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  13. lol @ Anonymous

    I like how hip hop fans are exposing themselves as closedminded, incurious, and overall, kind of stupid.

    Like, if you don't like an album, just say you don't like it, and give actual reasons. Don't try and re-categorize it as "not hip hop" or roundly dismiss the lyrics as "garbage." That's so obnoxious and idiotic and clearly not true. If you have to exaggerate to make your point, you don't have one.

    Kanye's album is getting rave reviews, and is on pace to an enormous critical and commercial success.

    Meanwhile, the haters are on pace to get even more older, and even more bitter, until they're listening to the Rap Oldies station, at the hospice, reminiscing about how baggy jeans and gangsta rap were totally phat and poppin', yo! What-the-fuck-ever. If you can only appreciate one specific kind of one genre of music, you must hate your ears.

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  14. Sorry, can't even enjoy So Appalled thanks to Swizz. That "bigger than a sun dial" nose and his retarded drawl make me want to shoot myself.

    As for the rest of the review, I agree. Blame Game, although pretty much a total swipe of Aphex Twin's Avril 14th, is fucking awesome. Also, Ye's second verse on Gorgeous? Genius. "Is hip hop just a euphemism for a new religion,
    the soul music for the slaves that the youth is missing?" Probably the smartest/most insightful two bars I've heard in a song in a long ass time. I've always been a big fan of a rapper who can blow me away in two bars alone then in a whole verse so that was a treat.

    Definitely contender for album of the year. I think you should also get to Big Boi's Son of Chico Dusty as that was a pretty epic album as well. Thanks for reviewing Max!

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  15. Do you plan on reviewing Rick Ross's Teflon Don ?
    As I liked him on this album, I decided to listen to it and I found myself liking it (mainly by the beats in fact, even if Officer Ricky has some decent lines).

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  16. I was very pleased with the album. See Me Now, Who Will Survive in America and Lost in the World were all trash. The rest of the album was amazing, the only misstep being the lyrics to All of the Lights, which were really bad but the music made it a good song and so did the singing (wtf was fergie on it though?) that means 8 amazing songs and 2 good songs (devil in a new dress was merely good and all of the lights).

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  17. For all you guys saying you hate Swizz on "So Appalled,"
    I can dice up a version of it without him and up it here.

    If you're interested.

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  18. Calling it Ye's best album would be a stretch... But it's definitely awesome!

    While not perfect as most critics make it seem, it's definitely dope as fuck!

    Honestly, there's a single track i didn't dislike.

    By the way Max: i don't wanna be nagging you about what to review next but how about Pilot Talk 1 and 2? =P

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  19. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog!!! This was seriously a thorough, well thought out, great review (as are all of your reviews). I agree with you, this was a very solid album but I don't think it was Mr. West's BEST album. I read the reviews before I listen to an album a lot of the time and that is what I did in this case so I was expecting to be blown away..and I mean I was bopping my head a lot but I didn't receive the goodsebumps that I usually get when I'm listening to life changing music. I think what messed it up for me to is how some of the tracks were the ones he had already released on G.O.O.D. Fridays, but it's whatever. This album is definitely worth a listen :)

    That GOOD GOOD Blog

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  20. Album really grows on you though

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  21. For Max, and those complaining about Swizz, or those who just would like to see Swizz get punched in the nuts...

    So Appalled, without Swizz Beatz:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?9l3fb3zjt7f2ebt

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  22. lol @ "TruthMachine" (please change that ridiculous handle)

    I'm sorry I ruffled your dickriding feathers there. It's obvious your feminine-style emotional reaction lead you to make assumptions because I did not once mention what my hip hop tastes were. That being said, there is a wide range of hip hop, even in today's "mainstream", that is FAR superior to the mediocre, egotistical dribble known as Kanye West's "lyrics".

    Since you are incapable of understanding what I meant by "garbage" and resorted to insults to satisfy your groupie obsessions, I'm going to break it down for you. Simply, the lyrics have average rhyme schemes, stupid pop culture references in almost every song, and no substance. Haters this, a little more I hate fame that, I'm the shit this, pop culture reference that.

    Sorry, but that's "garbage", even Eminem (who's gotten weaker too) can be considered an amazing lyricist next to your spazzing, mic-snatching pagan idol.

    So before you go on rants about 90's gangsta rap (which I'm not a fan of, but nice guess idiot), understand you'll probably be ridiculed in the same way (probably by another internet groupie) for liking Kanye several years from now. Continue your dickriding ways by all means though...

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  23. You dudes seem to forget something...hip hop is not owned and never will be...Hip hop has got wings and only those with the third eye to see it will be Kingz.
    You try to box hip hop into an era bygone instead of understanding the power that lies behind inspiration from the past and forging ahead.
    Kanye's success had lain in that he treats hip hop like a borderless canvass and his art which goes beyond spitting rhymes as a paintbrush.
    He stretches imaginations and tears down walls erected by so called hardcore hiphop heads.
    He will continue to win whilst you continue to critique through your 90's filtered eyes.

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  24. Okay, that last comment wins for best critique of my critique, if only because it is so oblique that it's borderline impenetrable. Mind you, I wrote that I LIKED the album.

    Thanks for reading!

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  25. Best review of this album I've seen yet. I wasn't as crazy about "So Appalled", but then again, I liked "Devil in a New Dress" a little better than you seemed to.

    More people need to read your blog, you speak the truth about hip hop.

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  26. AnonymousMay 23, 2011

    Horrible review, this album is fucking amazing. The only reason he has only 12 songs on the album is because he released all those other songs for GOOD Friday. Your criticisms makes absolutely no sense: any of Kanye's verses on Gorgeous is better than Raekwon's formulaic verse, So Appalled is definitely the worst song on the album (the droning beat drowns out all of the great rapping on there) while Devil In A New Dress definitely is not the worst, the vocoder-solo on Runaway is the best part of the song, and the only verse on Lost In The World is fits the the vibe and the production of the song as a whole, perfectly.

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  27. Just wantes to say that this website is terrible as a review site, I can't tell if you want to be a comedy site or you just really like trashing albums ( not this album in question i know you said you enjoyed it although you couldn't tell that from the individual track reviews). I'm often given the feeling that your reviewers are bitter that this isn't the 90's and can't find anything positive in new music (quite ironic, this is called hip-hop isn't dead). Some reviews are well written and funny but when actually looking at the songs it's usually a one sentence comment on how terrible the beat/lyrics are. I'll still come here for the lolz but not for a serious review if that's what you're aiming for.

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  28. Just wanted to say that this website is a great review site, I can tell that you put the time into critiquing every song (even if they're concise). And I'm also given the feeling that your reviewers are thought-provoking critics of hip hop, seeing as how they intimidate those who are eager to accept anything new. The reviews are well written and funny, precisely because you capture how good (or how terrible) the beat/lyrics can be. I'll always be coming back here for the lolz, and for the serious reviews :)

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  29. AnonymousJuly 09, 2012

    Get off Raekwon's dick. OB4CL 1 and 2 are two of my favorite albums ever, but you gotta give it up to Kanye on this one

    Kanye's first verse of gorgeous:
    Penitentiary chances, the devil dances
    and eventually answers to the call of Autumn
    all of them fallin’ for the love of ballin’
    got caught with 30 rocks, the cop look like Alec Baldwin
    inter century anthems based off inner city tantrums
    based off the way we was branded
    face it, Jerome get more time than Brandon
    and at the airport they check all through my bag and tell me that it’s random
    but we stay winning, this week has been a bad massage
    I need a happy ending and a new beginning
    and a new fitted and some job opportunities thats lucrative

    this the real world, homie, school finished
    they done stole your dreams, you dunno who did it
    I treat the cash the way the government treats AIDS
    I won’t be satisfied til all my n-ggas get it, get it?

    and now Raekwon's:
    I know cops, hems is lifting lenses
    kid, Armani suits, fresh fruits, Bally boots and Benzes
    counting up, smoking, one cuff
    live as a red Jag, a Louis bag, grabbing a blunt, f-ck it
    steam about a hundred and one L’s
    kites off the jails, buying sweats, running up in Stetson
    n-gga hat game was special
    it matched every black pair of Nikes
    throwing dice for decimals
    the older head, bolder head, would train a soldier head
    make sure he right in the field, not a soldier dead
    got made code red
    break up the black skunk
    the black dutch, back of the old shed
    if you can’t live, you dying
    you give or buy in
    keep it real or keep it moving, keep grinding
    keep shining, to every young man, this is a plan
    learn from others like your brothers Rae and Kanye

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  30. lolololo fuck you! To think, I was almost going to take your point of view as a reviewer seriously.. Thank god I checked out your Kanye reviews before anything else. You don't like the ORIGINAL version of "Runaway"?? (The single was a ball-less edit). You have no musical taste whatsoever, "Runaway" is on of the BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME

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    1. The best part of this reply is the fact that you're complaining about a song that I still liked. There was just no need for 'Ye to get all jam-band-y on THAT track.

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  31. AnonymousJuly 07, 2015

    I'm sorry, but a lot of your criticisms are incredibly trivial and they make it sound like you disliked a bunch of songs that you have no reason to. Rick Ross' verse is mediocre or however you put it? It's gotta be one of Rozay's best verses and an incredible verse in and of itself (all the hate you give Rick Ross, I feel like you haven't listened to "Sixteen" or Wale's "The Show," etc.) Rozay is a talented lyricist when he wants to be. Complaining about the droning of Ye in Runaway? Can't see how anyone would think that that shit doesn't fit perfectly with the theme of the song. After all, Ye is talking about feeling like a selfish asshole and Pusha's verse is about being an emotionless, robotic dude so why wouldn't Ye only being able to make drone noises instead of expressing his feelings make sense? My theory is Ye's verses are what he thinks and Pusha's verse is what he says and how he acts, but I digress.

    You complain about the title of "Gorgeous?" Who cares man, honestly. How anyone could dislike "Lost in World" is beyond me, it is the perfect summation of the album (notice how it basically includes elements from every song before it.) I appreciate that you enjoyed Blame Game though, as I believe it's arguably the best song on the album. I just question whether or not you're being overly critical just to be overly critical, and that kind of shit really pisses me off.

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    1. It's called my "Gut Reaction" for a reason. I've since softened in the nearly five goddamn years since I wrote this. I'm never critical just to be critical: I go into each review wanting to find something to like.

      Still hate Rick Ross's verse though.

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