Released in November of 2010, it proved to the world that Kanye was untouchable, he was an artist to end all artists and the king of kings in the music business.
Kanye West’s fourth studio album came after a troubling period in the Chicago bred rapper’s life, he was sitting at the top when his world got flipped upside down by the unexpected death of his mother Donda in late 2007. The resulting album ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ was a bizarre twist of fate from Ye who moved away from upbeat, high tempo pop-rap and instead adopted a subtle almost defeatist attitude. The result was an acquired taste but left fans wondering where he would go from there, enter his greatest work to date and a strong contender for the greatest era-defining body of work of it’s generation in ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’.
Released in November of 2010, it proved to the world that Kanye was untouchable, he was an artist to end all artists and the king of kings in the music business. It is a commercial masterpiece from start to finish and a true clinic in how to sample and make it sound fresh, unique and blended in. The samples on tracks like ‘Gorgeous’ and the instantly recognisable ‘POWER’ showed how daring Kanye was in the creation process of this album; he sampled a King Crimson song for god’s sake, that was only going one of two ways. It was either going to be a masterstroke or reach levels I nowadays like to refer to as ‘the Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven experiment’ for obvious reasons; luckily for Ye it paid off and the result was one of his greatest ever triumphs on one of his greatest ever songs.
The thing that makes this album so mesmerising is the linear structure it upholds whilst also coinciding with the archetypical styles of what mainstream fans desire, a combination that next to nobody has managed to create both before and after MBDTF was released. An album with ‘All Of The Lights’ on it also has ‘Blame Game’ on it? It just shouldn’t work and I think that is the mastery behind it. Literally nobody but Kanye could pull this album off, it is blind arrogance and often overzealousness but it never once goes off topic, the focus never alters and we have a clear vision of the narrative always. An example of this arrogance? Just listen to the three minute long autotune loop on ‘Runaway’, on the surface of me telling you what it is it sounds hideous but I don’t think I have ever heard something so unconventionally stunning on a song before and it wraps up a majestic song with eloquent beauty.
The features are mental, sheer madness and varied to the maximum. From Jay Z to John Legend, from Raekwon to Bon Iver, it is literally anyone’s guess as to who he might dare have on the next song. The feature heavy tracks don’t sound bloated though, they flow fantastically and create fusion unlike anything you’re likely to hear on a commercial level. On ‘All Of The Lights’ for example, Kanye is joined by literally over a dozen people, from Elton John to Kid Cudi and La Roux. Who in their right mind would think to put them all together? Kanye West, that’s who. Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross are absolutely phenomenal on their respective guest verses of ‘Monster’ and ‘Devil In A New Dress’, the latter of which is one of the true highlights of this project.
I could speak about this album until the end of time, it has impacted my life in countless ways and inspired me to want to do more. I have absolutely zero doubts in my mind that it has had the same effect on many other people too and that it just one of a million reasons as to why I can hand on heart tell you it is one of the greatest albums to ever be produced. I don’t think I am being dramatic when I tell you that we should all feel lucky to have been alive at the same moment of this album’s birth and growth; it will continue to blossom for years to come and sadly it won’t be until long after Kanye West is gone that people will start to understand quite how magnificent it is.