128 of 181 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2010
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
Kanye has stated that he wants to be the new King of Pop, and "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" sounds like an obvious claim for this title. His legion of loyal followers are of course claiming it to be a masterpiece. But what about those of us who aren't yet convinced of his genius?
Here's my take, from someone who likes hip hop, but admittedly thinks Kanye has always been overrated.
More than anything, this album sounds Big. Reminiscent of the production from his first three albums (heavy on samples, especially 70's soul), but piling on the grandiosity with dense soundscapes of strings, choirs and whatever else he can cram into your speakers.
To me, this is like the rap equivalent of big budget arena rock. Think Queen, ELO, Styx, and Yes. Think "Use Your Illusion" by Guns N' Roses. The kind of music that wants its listeners to bow down and worship its creator.
Hey, sometimes that kind of stuff has its place. Queen has a slew of great singles under their belt, and "Twisted Fantasy" has some nice moments as well, like "All of the Lights," and the low-key "Lost in the World." But, mostly, this reaching-for-the-stars bombast is exhausting. Less is often more, you know. For instance, proto-rapping legend Gil Scott-Heron, sampled extensively here, did his most brilliant work with only some drums, a flute, and his electrifying words.
How do Kanye's words fare, by the way? Well, I've always maintained that folks who paint him as a lyrical genius have been selectively ignoring some really embarrassing lines, like "Feeling like Katrina with no FEMA/ Like Martin with no Gina." If anything, he's inconsistent, and this album's lyrics are no exception. For every clever line ("What's a black Beatle anyway, a f***in roach?") there's something like "Too many Urkels on your team, that's why your Winslow," a pun that would ruin any rookie MC's career.
If Kanye wants to be the King of Pop like Michael was, he should know that this one ain't his Thriller. With Thriller, MJ made sounds that were risky and innovative, yet appealed to countless demographics. It was effortless in its appeal; anyone with eyes and ears was welcome to enjoy it. In contrast, "Twisted Fantasy" is an album that shouts for your attention, and demands your concentration, not to mention your sympathy for the trials of our poor Important Superstar. It's closer to Michael's later album "His Story," which was an overwrought pop package designed to profit from a pre-established assumption of the Artist's Greatness. That album was a little much, but at least it came well after MJ had earned his title as King.
To Kanye, I recommend that he scale back his ambitions a bit, stop trying to be The Biggest Man in the World, and just try to make music that is authentically expressive of emotions felt by us regular people. Your faithful followers will worship you no matter what you put out, so you may as well try something new to get the rest of us into your camp.
To Kanye fans, what I say means little to you, I'm sure. These are just my humble opinions, and you're welcome to ignore them.
But to people who are similarly disappointed with this album and all the hype surrounding Kanye, definitely check out Big Boi's "Sir Lucious Left Foot" for a taste of Ambition done right. Not to mention Janelle Monae's "ArchAndroid," which does require some patience to get into, but more than pays off with intelligence and emotional depth that reflects a concern for a world far beyond Kanye's isolated bubble of experience. These are my nominees for King (or Queen) of Pop.
But what's a black Beatle anyway? As Janelle and Big Boi demonstrate, it's someone who makes challenging ideas seem simple and appealing.
Kanye? Maybe he's the black Axl Rose...
**Update** It's been almost two years now. How does the album hold up? Perhaps I'm a little more welcoming, because no one is shoving it in my face as a MASTERPIECE anymore. But still, this thing's by no means perfect. Overall, it's a bit top-heavy: the best cuts are stacked at the beginning, and at some point ("Devil in a Blue Dress") it really starts to drag. We all know Ye's got some talent, but he really needs to develop a more critical editing ear, rather than follow his every impulse. Hopefully some day he'll be as great as he thinks he is.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
For starters, I'm very surprised to see all the 5 stars that this album has gotten. Clearly people either: A.) bought into the reviews (someone at Pitchfork is going to need to be surgically removed from Kanye's rear-end) and are making themselves seem "cool" by liking it, or B.) they don't have a broad/diverse enough musical palette to know better. Musically, this album is a 5-star record for sure. It is very well produced, catchy, interesting, and certainly ahead of it's time. Once the lyrics start, this record drops down to a single star. If Kanye could just keep his mouth shut, he'd be on to something. Each time I listen to it (and I do listen to it) I find myself cringing at bunch of parts. Am I just too uptight? Hardly. It just sounds so......sophomoric. If you asked a horny 15 year old boy to write about anything he wanted, this is what he'd come up with. It just seems sooooo unnecessary. Is there supposed to be "art" in there somewhere? One example ---- the Chris Rock bit at the end of "Blame Game." I think Chris Rock is great, but this is not his funniest bit (and it's 2 minutes long, urgh). After I heard it once, I had heard it enough. Now each time that song plays and that part comes on, I have to flip to the next song. And you will too. Make sure you have easy access to your mp3 player. And Pitchfork thinks that's a perfect 10? Wow....
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I was really looking forward to listening to this album after all the hype over it. And the first song - Dark Fantasy - didn't disappoint, it is a great intro with an uplifting chorus which really works. On the 2nd track - Gorgeous - Kanye is rapping with his voice `tinned' but the flow is good and you get the feeling that if he could keep to that level throughout the album, then it would be a masterpiece. Unfortunately as the 3rd track - Power - starts with clapping and the beautiful female vocals singing "Uh, hey ay, uh!" you know exactly what is coming. It is going to be noisy, triumphant, even overwhelming with those vocals on constant loop. Great music but all designed to drown out West's mediocre mcing. After that the album is mostly downhill, apart from `Monster' which is a very interesting track. And there is no surprise that the production on this album is nearly flawless, it's Kanye West. But as hip hop it was always going to be handicapped by West's amateurish lyrics and even worse delivery. He throws in one or two good lines, but fills the rest of it with rubbish like this:
How `Ye doin'? I'm survivin'
I was drinkin' earlier, now I'm drivin'
Where the bad b******, huh? Where ya hidin'?
I got the power, make yo' life so excitin'
I have to say that I am very surprised at many of the critic's reviews. At what point did everyone decide that you can make a classic hip hop album when the MC rhymes by just adding -in', it, -own to the end of incoherent phrases? But West is a very smart guy and he has tapped into pop culture where you are judged not only by your talents but by your celebrity. And in a stroke of genius he also made the album a celebrity treasure hunt so the American idol fans are fascinated, proudly declaring things like "Did you know that it was Elton John signing oooh la la at 4.12?!"
Overall MBDTF is a good album and on the first few listens it may even sound great. But those of us who value quality, intelligent lyrics will be left cold once effects of West's grand production have worn off and we can contemplate on the nonsense he has been spouting at us for the last hour. Try The Roots - How I got over, Nas & D. Marley or Kno - Death is Silent for 2010 releases with great rhyming as well as production.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
I loved College Dropout and Late Registration, listened to those two albums over and over. This album just left me unimpressed, partially because of the praise that has been heaped upon it. I liked Blame Game, Monster, Devil In A New Dress, and POWER but the other tracks are unmemorable. Kanye has nothing interesting to say in his lyrics; just the same cliched themes of women, money, and fame in every song. I also wasn't drawn to the beats of the tracks. The whole album sounds like any other overproduced, dull top 20 hit on the radio these days. The reviews I read about this album made it sound like it was breaking new ground lyrically and musically but that couldn't be further from the truth.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2010
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
If this is what is considered a classic album then I feel bad for hip hop. I think the album is pretty good but nowhere near a perfect one. There are some songs I really enjoy like All Of The Lights, Dark Fantasy, Monster, Runaway and So Appalled. I'd say musically is where the album shines though lyrically it suffers a bit. I like Jay's guest spots a lot as well as Nicki Minaj but why Rick Ross? That guy is a joke. But other than that I think All Of The Lights is the best song on here. Rihanna sounds great on the hook and the beat is awesome. The beat on So Appalled is also really cool. Anyway, if you like Kanye you would probably enjoy this quite a bit. Just being a semi-fan, I thought it was decent.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
hmm, this time around i'm not too impressed with kanye's work...i guess the title of the album says it all, "dark twisted"...who knew it was literal...