Posted in hiphop | music on November 21, 2010

Kanye West

"...On Monday West, who is 33, will release his fifth album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), and it's terrific -- of course it's terrific -- a startlingly maximalist take on East Coast rap traditionalism. And yet that doesn't matter nearly as much as it should, at least partly because of West's insistence on his own greatness. By not allowing for responses to his work other than awe, the value of the work itself is diminished; it becomes an object of admiration, not of study. Instead the focus is on the whole of West's persona and character, which is more fractured and subject to a far wider range of responses. The result is that West becomes a polarizing public figure who happens to be the most artful pop musician of the day, not the other way around.

Nevertheless, West seems virtually incapable of making a bad record. He's committed to pop, and he's savvy and talented enough to make it great, every time. What's more, for him to make something other than a universally accepted smash would be a thing that his ego couldn't bear. Every Kanye West album, until the cancer of the world around him begins to encroach on the parts of his cerebral cortex that control his musical ear, will be excellent and huge. He'll never have an idiosyncratic period.

Even at his most extreme, West isn't an experimenter. His music is ornate, ostentatious, curious and vivacious. But risky? No. All of his fiddling is within recognized formulas. A producer as well as a rapper, West controls all of the major elements of his songs, unlike other artists who have to rely on their taste (or their record label's taste) in outside producers or songwriters.

To work on this album he retreated to Hawaii, as he did during the making of his previous album. And West's gravitational pull is such that he can import talent. Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Nicki Minaj -- they all made the trip to make music that will appear on the album. The spooky indie folky Justin Vernon from Bon Iver spoke of smoking marijuana with Rick Ross on one of his three sojourns to Hawaii to work with West, about as surreal a tableau as has been created in the making of any pop album this year." [JON CARAMANICA, Sunday New York Times]

"Runaway" video below...

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Comments (54)

cue the snarky comments from that leading headline. this album is great, whether you like kanye as a celebrity figure or not

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 12:43 PM

It's great if you've been listening to boring music your whole life

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 12:52 PM

i think this album might be good enough to illegally download.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 12:52 PM

all of his music, beats and collabs suck

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:05 PM

When is the sad white hipster top 40s rap worship going to stop? We bitch about any indie band that uses the word 'faggot' or call them sell-outs over the slightest indiscretion, but we continue this double standard of 'oh, they're black, so it's okay to be sexist, homophobic, shamelessly materialistic corporate whores with the vocabulary of a five year old.' and so we stock our Jay-z album next to our shellac album and sleep happily.

(that's not to say there isn't some good hip-hop out there, but fucking come on, it's not kanye west.)

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:21 PM

This is a GREAT record.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:27 PM

kanye = shit

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:38 PM

Yeezy taught you well. Yeezy taught you well.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:58 PM

I bet 1:21 is a lot of fun at cocktail parties.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 1:59 PM

i don't really care about his music, but i do like the fact that he's a complete asshole. it's nice when people don't play it so safe, which there's too much of nowadays.

i would rather have ten kanyes than these meek, boring little indie bands who are so boring, i can't fathom their appeal.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 2:13 PM

keepin it real 1:59?

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 2:15 PM

everyone in this thread so far lists "everything but country" in their favorite music section on facebook

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 2:21 PM

i don't have a facebook account and i like some country. NICE TRY!

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 2:42 PM

let me guess... johnny cash and loretta lynn?

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 2:45 PM

2:21 thank you chuck klosterman.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:04 PM

When someone tells me they like "Everything but Country", I ask them to tell my who their favorite Hawaiian Slack Key guitarist, and their favorite Klezmer musicians are. When they look at me like I have two heads, I just say "Well you said EVERYTHING but country. That means that of the thousands and thousands of genres of music, you singled out that one to not like, and you like every other one."

Posted by The Mighty KC | November 21, 2010 3:16 PM

"everything but country" is cliche.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:26 PM

toby keith > kanye west

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:31 PM

2:21 is absolutely right

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:32 PM

Kanye Wests lyrical abilities are poor. His beats are weak, but in this age of Hyper-Commercialism his blend of Moet sippin and bling bling bullshit is what cokehead bottle service clubbers like to hear.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:33 PM

3:32 blows goats

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:45 PM

i only like country and rap.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 3:53 PM

Caramanica would've come off as less a pedantic putz if he'd said that West "seems virtually incapable of making an uninteresting album."

Posted by Crosseyed Sniper | November 21, 2010 4:11 PM

"and we need some new leaders to follow. yeah we need some new leaders to follow"...worst freestyle ever. but i still like kanye's records.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 4:23 PM

This got all the makings of a masterpiece
So we broke off the chains and told the master PEACE

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 4:41 PM

See, a part of me sayin' keep shinin',
How? when I know of the blood diamonds
Though it's thousands of miles away
Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today
Over here, its a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs
The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses
I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless
'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 5:08 PM

KanMEH West.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 5:23 PM

Jon Caramanica has been writing about hip-hop for 10+ years, he's actually be writing about it almost longer than Kayne has been performing. So the " sad white hipster top 40s rap worship " at least if it's directed at the journalist is pretty much uninformed, unfounded speculation. Jon did a great job for an artist who is as constantly being covered as Kayne West.

Posted by Peter Agoston | November 21, 2010 5:24 PM

808s & Heartbreak was the most interesting thing he's done.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 5:34 PM

@2:13

Yeah, but he's apologetic asshole... It's not that he's not-playing-it-safe so much as he is playing it stupid and having to say I'm sorry later.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 5:42 PM

The Mightily Dorky KC

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 7:49 PM

I like country. I dig Buck Owens. I dig everything but Nashville country.

Favorite Slack Key = Led Kaapana
Favorite Klezmer music = The Klezmatics (too obvious?)

Anyway...what the hell is this? Link TV?

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 7:56 PM

This album rules. Anyone else who thinks otherwise probably religiously listens to Sleigh Bells and Girl Talk (as if either fall far from Kanye's pop music tree, but since it's "hipster" sub-culture stuff that makes it okay.)

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 10:06 PM

500 Interweb points for 1:21.

Kanye West hates music loving people...and education.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 10:30 PM

The garbage that is commercial hip hop in 2010 will never cease to irritate me. Jay-Z is the only one doing it right, and thats because he has the best flow of anyone making it big out there today.

Forget Kanye, forget Weezy, DEFINITELY forget Drake, and that fake-ass (literally) Nicki Minaj. The true MCs are elsewhere and it doesnt take much digging. Ghostface has a new album coming out soon; watch for it. Joell Ortiz is slaying everyone else out there right now and has an album out soon; look out for that one too. I'd love to see Kanye try to battle Joell. It'd be no contest. Kanye CANNOT rap. Period. He makes good beats. Thats it. His 30-minute "film" for Runaway is dumb and contrived. Russell Simmons calling it brilliant was one of the most laughable things I've ever read.

Posted by GregBX | November 21, 2010 10:45 PM

i heard george w bush does back up vocals on one track > 21rst century schizoid man

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2010 11:36 PM

a pitchfork 10.0? last time this happened it was YHF

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 1:04 AM

@1:04:

The NAIIIIL in the COFFIN

Posted by NBA Jam Announcer | November 22, 2010 1:25 AM

BEST POSSIBLE MUSIC!

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 2:30 AM

lol

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 4:16 AM

Well, first of all, if you look at all of Kanye West's output, he actually did a lot to bring back sampling and make it cool again, even though he's more of a mainstream artist...but his new album is strictly hard beats and rhyme. He's totally done with electro. You're gonna be surprised what you hear.

Posted by custom essays | November 22, 2010 4:36 AM

Pitchfork gives high scores to so much disposable, unintelligent hip-hop. They ignore the real underground in favor of garbage with no content. Cool points? I think not!

Pitchfork is racist! Scared to not review or give poor scores to the aforementioned albums. Pitchfork will belittle and scrutinize the hell of out some up and coming indie post-punk band, but then gives a Waka Flocka Flame an 8.0....Total BS!

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 9:10 AM

so much better music out there

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 9:54 AM

This album is currently ranking 100% on Metacritic. If it keeps this up it may be the best reviewed album of the decade, maybe last decade too.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 9:58 AM

10?...jeeez fine I'll listen to your album Kanye.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 9:59 AM

FACT: Kanye West did not make a better album than James Murphy in 2010.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 10:01 AM

ADDITIONAL FACT: Kanye West did not make a better album than Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally in 2010.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 10:03 AM

where is my Kanye and Ariel Pink collaboration at? get on that asap.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 10:04 AM

What a sad time we live in when this hack is considered a "genius". Are you kidding me?
And BV- I expected better from you. Your Kanye worship has gotten ridiculously out of hand. Makes me seriously consider why I have respect for this blog. Kanye is McDonalds of music... he just brought back the McRib! Oh... praise Kanye! What a brilliant "artist". Girl Talk is an embarrasment to our generation, yet at least I can see the appeal in the fun of listening to that. Kanye is disgusting. Homophobic, materialistic, hack garbage. American culture is in the dark ages.

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 10:09 AM

there's a new video interview online where kanye says, "George Bush hates country musicians"

Posted by Anonymous | November 22, 2010 1:41 PM

Kanye is a true artist.

Posted by Anonymous | November 23, 2010 10:34 AM

This really is the best album since Radiohead Kid A. The production is immaculate too! Kudos Mr. West!

Posted by Anonymous | November 23, 2010 10:36 AM

bottom line this album is incredible.. should win a grammy for album of the year

Posted by instrumentals | March 3, 2011 9:12 PM

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