Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Samples King Crimson, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver - justifying the hype
In the two years since he recorded the singular 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West has opened a couple of Fatburger franchise restaurants, designed a line of shoes for Louis Vuitton, played himself as an obnoxious drunk in a Spike Jonze short film, ruined a millionaire milquetoast country singer’s big moment and earned himself the derision of the entire world and the ire of TWO Presidents of the United States.
On the swing back from all the bad press and the megalomania, he’s turned his own attempts at atonement into minor TV tantrums. He’s also recorded the best album about arrogance, self-hate and death since The Holy Bible. The best, that is, that can also comfortably host the lyric ‘I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick’ (on ‘Power’). The self-styled ‘McDonalds of music’ side to Kanye has taken a back seat as he’s rediscovered his touch for employing less well-known samples and more interesting collaborators. The likes of Shirley Bassey, Daft Punk and Mr Hudson have been abandoned in favour of King Crimson, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver. However, those that found 808s … self-indulgent will be unimpressed with his decision to stretch the spine-tingling ‘Runaway’ to nine minutes, with a coda featuring his distorted vocals gradually emerging from a heavily autotuned murk.
But this is Kanye’s show, and his sheer force of personality, warts and all, is ultimately this album’s greatest strength. When the dust he’s kicked up around himself has settled, Kanye is still just about justifying the hype.