Blue Lines, Bon Iver, Esthero, fish sticks, Jay-Z, John Legend, Justin Vernon, Kanye West, KiD CuDi, Lupe Fiasco, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Nikki Minaj, Raekwon, review, RZA, South Park, Wu-Tang Clan
As I sat with my iPod, I was sick of the normal fare. I’m sick of drugged up rappers, so bored by whining rockers. How many ways can you beg a woman to have sex with you, with the newest rapper riding shotgun to help you efforts along. My music collection has reached out toward adding artists and albums that you should choose to take a chance on. With that said…
Enter next week’s Kanye West returns with he much anticipated full length release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The product of a strategically orchestrated campaign of releases of album singles, videos, and “GOOD Friday” movement to provide for a focus and comprehensive movement in support of project, previously promoted in 2005 after Graduation was released and earlier this year as the self aggrandizing Good Ass Job.
Continued after jump.
Since Late Registration as Kanye West has become more of a Rap/Pop/Rock star, and less the unknown, as I had to say today “underground” artist, the consistency of his albums began to grow, as the quality of his lyrical content became lacking. Since that time, Kanye has expressed his inability to deal with the media as a whole as evidenced by his south park “fish sticks” comments in “Gorgeous,” featuring his protege KiD CuDi and Raekwon the Chef of Wu-Tang Clan. But as we have seen with 808’s & Heartbreak, as his personal began to impact the direction and tone of his music, the quality of his projects began to grow beyond the limits of simply being constrained to Rap, R&B, Hip-Hop, or Rock even.
Though the campaign was well executed, before looking at the content for itself, upon first review of the track listing, of those 13 tracks (one being an interlude, the other a continuation of a song), seven of the 11 songs have either been released or leaked, tempering the excitement for songs that I have either been listening to, and or changes that were not needed.
Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, maybe his best constructed album second 2008’s 808’s playing as a well constructed story in the vein of Diddy’s 2006 concept album Press Play. Again, drawing from experiences in his life like 808’s, he constructs a relationship story minus the heavy autotune, singing, and Esthero, though I still contend 808’s was his best work. Luckily outtakes like the misguided “Se Me Now,” featuring pop diva Beyonce, the sloppy “Lord, Lord, Lord,” “Take One For The Team,” and “Don’t Look Down,” missed the final cut of the album.
An album heavy in appearances, much of the album had been heard in some shape or fashion through the “GOOD Friday’s” marketing, and slight changes where made to craft the story that the album presents. “Dark Fantasy,” and “Monster,” luckily limits the Nikki Minaj involvement that it does not detract from the album. “Power,” the only song that seems out of place, “So Appalled,” and “Runaway,” appear playing perfect roles in perfecting the concept of this album. “All Of The Lights,” is a tremendous highlight, although the mind-numbing verse by Fergie could have been omitted. Similarly one of the most majestic songs previously released by Kanye, “Devil In A New Dress,” follows the same formula telling the story of a strained relationship until it transitions into a guitar driven crescendo reminiscent of 80’s Prince which is truly amazing and emulates both the concept of long-form Michael Jackson and Prince videos of the past, until Rick Ross appears in a nonsensical Jay-Z influenced verse (would have been better tackled by Hov himself) mentioning the “clear port,” and rapping with Kanye “in the cipher before his mouth was wired,” rather than playing on the theme and concept on the track on which he is appearing, imitating rap that allows such a great production to crash and burn.
The inclusion and interpolation of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is an amazing addition to this album with his appearance backing “Monster,” and the reworking of Bon Iver’s “Woods,” to serve as the template for the creation of “Lost In The World,” to close the album. Justin, who emulating Kanye with the autotuned folk song “Woods,” appearances served as two artists who had influenced each other’s works, coming together.
Again, the biggest drawback of Dark has less to do with the work, and less to do with cameos from garbage artsists such as Rick Ross, Fergie, and Nikki Minaj, and more to do with the similar drawbacks of KiD CuDi, and N.E.R.D.’s recent albums. When I listen to the album, I feel that I’ve heard it all before (as in I have been listening to the songs fo rthe last few months). My excitement was tempered on the fact that these songs, in their basic and sometimes better (Devil In A New Dress) forms have been staples of my playlist for quite some time.
Rating 4 out of 5 Blue Lines
The manuscript Blue Lines is the fictional coming of age narrative of a young California woman Key Yemaya Walker, and her 2 year growing journey through school, love, and life period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., taking place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.