Kanye West | My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Roc-A-Fella Records (2010)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  November 16, 2010
4.0 4.0 Stars

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Amid the zapping prog-lift of the vaguely Nietzschean "Power," the lead single from his fifth album and magnum opus, Kanye tosses off the casual self-platitude "Every superhero needs his theme music." But if he's a superhero, who is he saving? Perhaps the music industry, quickly in need of rescue now that it's in the digital 21st-century doldrums. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, all 66 minutes of it, is a bold return to the "event album," the like of which hasn't been seen since Guns N' Roses' 1991 Use Your Illusion twin turbos. As with UYI, or maybe Def Leppard's Hysteria, unlimited studio shekels were plunked down to appease the megalomaniacal whims of a mercurial rock star in the throes of a crippling identity crisis. The rumored $3-million-plus studio tag on Fantasy would barely cover the snare sound on Hysteria — but in these austere times, using actual samples and lining up guest star after guest star is enough to stand out amid the bedroom projects that populate the tops of the charts. "You've been putting up with my shit just way too long," 'Ye intones later on "Runaway," encapsulating the schizophrenic mindset of not just the album but also his entire career and celebrity trip. And, yes, if you are easily put off by Kanye's lack of lyrical class, Fantasy will have you reaching for the stop button within the first verse of the first track. But this time, putting up with his shit means reaping the rewards of a vast musical adventurism. The sprawling strokes sound like an enormous limited-edition retro sneaker crushing down on the timid works of other Class-of-'10-ers. From the aforementioned "Power" and "Runaway" to the stoner-rock "Iron Man"–isms of "Hell of a Life" to the Rocky-theme-backed-by-jungle-drums guest-verse clusterfuck of "All of the Lights," Fantasy is the sound of an artist who is so far from shunning the spotlight that the firepower of the wattage pointed at him is a full-on supernova.

  Topics: CD Reviews , Kanye West, Kanye West, hip-hop,  More more >
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