Public persona aside, this is seen to be Rapper Kanye West’s best album. He had made milestones before this release, yet he was continuing his streak as a musician and someone to be noticed. It features an array of guests and cleverly used samples, and was also commercially successful as an album, going multiplatinum. This was before Kanye West’s celebrity image ate himself up, so let’s take a listen and see how this album sounds.
We begin with Dark Fantasy which begins with a really odd background patch and some weird spoken vocal parts, before this track gets underway. Some glorious singing then enters, which is obviously designed to smoke weed to. Kanye gets Rapping away with stardust sounds. This is actually a really excellent tune, and shows Kanye West at his best as a Rapper. Very catchy and different, this piece is influenced by many different types of music and is highly original. The beats then re-emerge in the second half, along with the gospel vocal repeated phrase: “Can we get much higher?” Obviously a pothead’s delight, this is a strong start to this album.
Next is Gorgeous which features Kid Cudi and Raekwon. It begins with some rather odd melodies and beats, before this track begins with some good singing by the guests here. A good Rap piece then emerges, this album comes across as a very good listen so far, sounding very fresh and inspired. Kanye is on top form here, this deserves multiple listens as a recording already. A beautiful and strange piece of music, this is really awesome with lyrics about sex, drugs and Rap. This is an awesome and inspired piece, although Kanye West sounds like he is Rapping away into a distorted microphone. Towards the end, this piece goes into a piano driven finale that sounds amazing and wonderful. A great song about social issues, good to hear. A very good track, nice effort.
POWER is next, beginning with handclaps and gospel vocals, with Kanye West quickly entering into it. It heavily samples the old King Crimson song 21st Century Schizoid Man but not overly so, this is a really excellent listen regardless of the sample here or not. A really wonderful listening experience, this is different in a good way. This is likely one of the best albums of the 21st century so far, Kanye West really delivers a great track with some radical lyrics here. In the second half of the track, some extra beats and textures are added here for emphasis, with references to suicide, strangely enough. Brilliant effort, even if it does heavily sample King Crimson. Nice effort.
All Of The Lights (Interlude) is a short one minute piece with some rather melancholy strings and piano. Very interesting, and not what you’d expect on a Rap album. Very deep and sad sounding, this is definitely different. A good effort nonetheless.
Following is the proper All Of The Lights which has some distorted vocals and horn sections that sound awesome. Female singing then enters, before the track here kicks in with some really awesome beats and textures. Kanye then enters, showcasing a brilliant track and Rap effort here. This is an excellent track for Rap music, and the intelligent lyrics are perfectly matched with the beats here. With references to sex and various social groups, this is a really good listening experience and nicely constructed too. In the second half the beats stop for the instrumentation here and singing, which is really cool. Great track to hear, and rather melodramatic too.
After that is Monster which features guests such as JAY-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver. This piece begins with some awesome singing that is nicely mixed together with distortion, before launching into an awesome piece of music that has some excellent beats and melodies here. This is a very good six minute long piece that has some direct lyrics and references to one’s fame and fortune, typical sort of Rap stuff. The guest appearances here are great too, lighting up the track in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be done very well. Very excellent piece, Nicki Minaj’s guest piece is hilarious lyrically, too. A really excellent and beat heavy piece, this is suitably postmodern music for the internet age. Brilliant effort by Kanye West and company.
So Appalled comes next, featuring JAY-Z, Pusha T, CyHi The Prynce, Swizz Beatz and RZA and is another six minute long piece. It is rather melodramatic at the start with melancholy sounds and textures, with a lyrical reference to Donald Trump, who Kanye West would later deal extensively with. That was to come later on, this is an anthemic and decent listen that is very different to anything else out there, before or since. The lyrics complement the music perfectly here, and has more social realist perspective about it, although there are a load of profanities here. An excellent tune though, although a little depressing. A good tune and very moving, oddly enough for Rap music. Very deep sounding.
Devil In A New Dress features Rick Ross and sounds rather odd at the start, with gospel vocals that are weird. This is a bit of oddity on this album, it is a postmodern effort that harks back to the past of African-American music. Still, it is a fresh and different listening experience about a lover in mind that Kanye West is thinking of. It is an excellent listen piece, going into a guitar and piano breakdown in the middle that is definitely different. A great piece of music here, this is superb and enjoyable listening all the same. Rick Ross’s guest appearance here is really top here, and this track is individual and unique, especially for Rap music. Nice effort. The guitars here are really great.
Up next is Runaway which features Pusha T. It begins with a repeated piano part that sounds simple and melodic, before this piece gets going underway. This is a nine minute piece that sounds dark, punchy and full of melodic sensibility. Kanye West performs very well here, Rapping away nicely here. Proposing a toast to the lowlifes in life, this is a wonderful listen about dealing with women issues, but delivered in the male macho way that Rap music specializes in. Discussing having “pussy on one’s mind 24/7/365”, this is relatively sexist but still, it is a listenable piece that sounds really deep. It goes back into the piano section in the second half, adding cello strings and some distorted sounds of some sort. This instrumental section continues throughout the second half of the song for some time, adding momentum and suspense throughout, going all the way to the finish.
Following is Hell Of A Life which begins with some distorted bass sounds that sound interesting, before Rapping about one’s sex life and all that sort of thing. It’s a strange piece, but very intelligently delivered and listenable. No doubt Kanye West was a postmodern musical pioneer here, singing about not needing any more drugs and that “pussy and religion is all I need”. Some interesting lyrics are here. In the middle section are some downpitched vocals and sex based sounds are here. Interesting and entertaining, this is a strange tune. Towards the end, Kanye West sings about gloriously marrying a pornstar and the consequences from it. Some interesting sounds and vocal melodies end this one, an odd track but a good one.
Blame Game is next, beginning with some more piano and thunderous beats. It features John Legend as well. This track is postmodern poetry, and it deals with relationship issues at hand. It sounds very professional, intelligent and moody for a track of its sort. It is a brutal story of broken love and hardship that has some nicely stereo panned vocals here, with John Legend adding some good vocal parts here. For Gangsta Rap, this is excellent music and very moving. With marriages breaking up these days over 50% of the time in countries such as the USA, this is a suitable track for the times. Great tune, although it is very direct and heartbreaking. Towards the end is a prolonged recording of a one sided conversation with a supposed Kanye West lover and a guy she is having an affair with. Pretty bleak.
Lost In The World features Bon Iver, which begins with some excellent singing. It is modified nicely and double tracked over the top of each part here. Shortly into it, some straightforward beats enter and this piece gets kicking. Another good piece is here, and this is really cool music. Kanye West delivers superbly here, and makes moving and emotional music. Unsurprisingly, this album is now seen as a classic, and rightly so. This track builds up and gets very loud towards the end, with layers of vocals and pounding drums, as we approach the end of this album, flowing on into the last track.
Lastly here is Who Will Survive In America which has bongo beats, organ and other additional instrumentation here. It samples some speech as well, and goes for a minute and a half long. Good stuff, and is very dramatic, it ends with some clapping.
This is a decent album that should appeal to many, particularly millennials who dig the latest trends. More so, it has an appeal to older musical fans as well who dig Rap music and albums that are consistent classics. These days, Kanye West is a bit of a tabloid joke in the music world. However, at the time of release, this album and Kanye were untouchable. A good listen from start to finish.
Decent Rap music.
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