BY MATTHEW HENGEVELD So, Pitchfork gave this album a perfect score. Rolling Stone did too. The Source just awarded it the once-coveted 5 Mics rating. But who gives a fuck about a review anyway!? I’m here to tell you that Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is shit shit shit!
Kanye’s failure, in my book, stems from him being unable to stick to his promises — specifically he promised fans a revival of boom-bap hip-hop and a departure from the electronic dabbling seen in 808s and Heartbreak. Kanye told us that Madlib would be there, RZA would be there, Pete Rock would be there and Q-tip would be there. Back when this album was known as Good Ass Job, Kanye leaked a snippet of his track “Power.” This version lacked the pop-driven theatrics of the final version. The track was great, and the Kanye’s promises all seemed so true. There was a momentary lapse in the foresight of hip-hop fans. They forgot that Kanye West is a hype machine. This man is the Billy Mays of hip-hop. Some of that stuff Yeezy promised came true, but most didn’t. And even the promises that did come true, like the RZA-produced track “Dark Fantasy,” seem hijacked and re-purposed for Kanye’s pop-agenda. What we got is an album that treats drums like an afterthought and sampling as a novelty item.
“All of the Lights” nauseates me. It is a clusterfuck of singers— I won’t even bother to list them all. Kanye’s theatrics are so overwhelming that he must’ve hired one of Disney World’s Imagineers to paste it all together. The drums are a Danger Mouse rip-off. The vocals sound like a perverted “We Are The World” record. “All of the Lights” is the most plastic-feeling song in Kanye’s entire discography. It leaves me wondering if rhythm holds relevancy in today’s hip-hop, or is it entirely about dynamics now?
When Kanye is rapping without a ghostwriter (not very often) his lyrics are as uninspired as ever. Kanye talks about getting head so often that it should have its own drinking game. Other lines just sound… ummm, well you be the judge:
Have you ever had sex with a pharoahhhhh… put the pussy in a sarcophagus.
What the fuck is that Kanye? Or how about this gem:
That was a little joke, voila / praise is due to the most high, Allah / praise is due to the most fly, Prada / Baby I’m magic, tada.
Huh? What now? Didn’t Vh1 give you that ‘Top 5 MC dead or alive’ dap? You must have something dope to say Kanye, don’t you?:
If we die in eachothers arms, I’ll still get laid in the afterlife / If we die in eachothers arms, I’ll still get laid in the afterlife
Okayyy, I see… Not only did he repeat that line twice, but it’s his last line on the ENTIRE album. Let me say that again. It’s his last line on the ENTIRE album. That’s how you’re gonna leave us, Kanye? Once upon a time there were 7-minute monologues and musical gems like “Gone” at the end of your albums… now there is this. All I gotta say is thank God for Gil Scott Heron for saving your piss-ass album— or at least for providing a fitting eulogy. Thank God.
Let’s move on to “Monster.” It’s frightening. Not because the beat is a banger. Nicki Minaj’s verse is the true monstrosity. This is not a testament of Minaj’s lyrical prowess. This is just the opposite. A friend said that Nicki Minaj’s rhymes follow a very simple pattern, “Rabble rabble, British rabble, Jamaican rabble, rabble rabble, growling rabble.” I tend to agree. She’s really nothing special. Yet her simplistic pattern completely destroyed Kanye and Jay-Z on this track. It scares me that two “vets” are outshined so easily. I don’t think it’s laziness on their part— this song is an outing of the growing irrelevancy of ‘90s and ‘00s rappers in this post-space-age subwoofer destroying pseudo-hyphy/crunk era.
Boom-bap is like hard-bop to jazz— rocksteady to reggae— Delta blues to rock. It’s a staple to the genre, whereas all else is fleeting. These forms set basic tenants for the music and, if it works right, should serve as a yo-yo; it keeps the genre relevant for a bit longer before it spirals to the ground. We are seeing hip-hop’s failure to be pulled back into relevancy. You might think that hip-hop purists are being too harsh on Kanye. That’s not true. Kanye West had the chance to yank that yo-yo with this album. When he autotuned, 40 million copycats followed suit. If he embraced the boom-bap roots of hip-hop, it may have revitalized an otherwise dying form. That, of course, would mean there would be 40 million douchebags ushering behind— but it would also open the door for growth and new talent. But this, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this is just stagnation, a Pied Piper leaping from the highest cliff.