Album Review: Kanye West: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

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Yes, Kanye West is an asshole. And he’s more aware of it than you are. His ego is massive and he made a famous girl cry. He never developed that filter we all learned in kindergarten. Look at the album cover. He’s daring to provoke you. He’s extremely hard to love, until he drops an album and we’re reminded why we continue to support him despite it all. He’s a genius.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a meticulously crafted vision from a genre transcending artist with a voracious appetite for art. From George Condo’s gripping caricatures to the exquisite “Runaway” clip shot in Prague, Kanye envisioned a musical soundtrack inspired by high art.

Nicki Minaj opens the Twisted experience with the story book “Dark Fantasy.” After the career seige of the past year, Kanye burst back onto the radio with “Power,” drums blaring like AK’s and such unabashed bravado that Saturday Night Live couldn’t even help but to invite him back to Studio 7A. The masterful use of the disco track “Afromerica” and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” is ironic and poetic.

Perhaps one of Rihanna’s most shining moments is the blazing “All Of The Lights.” Kanye creates a hip hop symphony that begins with an instrumental and features a ton of guest appearances from the likes of Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys, and Elton John. Elton John. Dr. West taught her son to dream with no limits.

The GOOD Friday tracks make an appearance with every synthesized beat perfected by the maestro. “Monster” features Nicki Minaj’s verse that earned her critical buzz. “Devil In A New Dress” contorts Smokey Robinson’s sweet voice into a silky haunting instrument accompanied by a lavish Rick Ross verse. It’s a great lead into “Runaway,” where he draws listeners into the studio to witness his creative process. Enveloped only four notes of a piano melody and closing with a vocoder- and of course, douchebag toasts– the track spellbinds for its entire nine minutes.

John Legend joins Kanye on “Blame Game,” the “I love you just to hate you” track inspired by soured relationships. Already a standout in its own right, Chris Rock’s interlude brings back the playfulness of “Broke Phi Broke” and Bernie Mac appearances on his earlier albums.

The album closes with “Lost In The World,” a blend of musical worlds, from the alternative sound of Bon Iver to the soulful vocals of Alicia Keys and Charlie Wilson, to a closing verse from Last Poet Gil-Scot Heron.

After selling millions of albums, working with industry legends, Kanye’s still dreaming. Let’s see if his next one will still fit in any REM cycle.

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