Do I really need to introduce Kanye West at this point? after a year where he has been seen as a bad guy, crashing the stage interrupting America’s newest princess of country and still been recognised as “that guy from Gay Fish” haha I joke. But how does Kanye come back from all this negativity? I guess you will find out shortly…
If you have previously listened to Kanye and I presume you have. Hate him or love him you can’t honestly deny he brings a different sound and direction towards rap music. He blends sounds and samples music nobody would of otherwise thought to do; he samples a dance track now look at rap right now EVERY commercial artist has David Guetta.
The opening track on the album is in my opinion 1 of the most creative, potent tracks Kanye has ever recorded. Here we have a Nicki Minaj sounding introduction, it then breaks into the most graceful, beautiful, harmonious vocal piece I have heard in a long time in regards to rap; i would describe it as an orchestra but only using voices. The track then breaks with drums almost as hard as a westcoast banger blasting out a low rider, this crazy mix of sounds is what sets Kanye apart from every single rapper ever. Kanye’s flow is perfect, lyrics are clever and layered my favourite line can be seen to the left. Overall a Masterpiece a real lesson in how to craft a song; if this was a movie it would be directed by Christopher Nolan.
Gorgeous [Feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon]
Here you get a guitar solo as an intro, it could of easily come straight from a James Brown song, it’s very soulful and funky not only in it’s sound but also with it’s melody. You are then introduced to the chorus recorded by Cudi, Kanye then goes straight off with punchlines can really feel his hunger again, he’s crafting his words, touching on social commentary with “Face it Jerome get’s more time then Brandon”. Kanye bursts into verse 2 exaclty how he finished the first, hes just going punchline after punchline and comments on his treatment by Trey Parker and Matt Stone “Choke a Southpark writer with a fish stick” Kanye finishes off his part of the song in the same form he started producing my favourite line of the song [seen right]. We are then treated to Raekwon who as expecting brings lyrical content with more layers then a Playboy Photoshop session; most of what Rae’ says goes over most peoples heads but he is still in my opinion still as relevant with his social commentary as he was in the height of Wu-Tang Clan. Despite all my praise however I do think this could of banged a little harder; Kanye missed an opportunity to get super lyrical and try and match an elite Wu member bar for bar.
Power [Feat. Dwele]
Now we get to the lead single it starts with church gospel inspired vocal harmonies with a underlaying claps inplace of the drums. The drums then hit and Kanye crashes in with more social commentary, clever yet Egotistical punchlines “Now I embody every characteristic of the egotistic He know, he so, fucking’ gifted”. I personally feel this track is a satire on how Kanye is continuously perceived in the media; which I feel just shows how switched on and intelligent Kanye truly is, flow is on point, lyrics are clever and again layered, good hook. Overall it’s a pretty good lead single and fits well within the album.
All of The Light [Interlude]
This short interlude is a violin piece with a very soothing melodic tone, that eventually dies down and continue into the next track; nothing more to really say about this.
All of The Lights [Featuring guest vocals by Alicia Keys, John Legend, The-Dream, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, Elly Jackson, Alvin Fields, Ken Lewis, and Rihanna]
Firstly let me point out the guest vocals can not all be heared clearly, this right here is fucking ridiculous Kanye actually got artists like Elton John, Alicia Keys, The-Dream, Ryan Leslie Elly Jackson of La Roux amongst others to actually just layer vocals for certain parts, that to me is flabbergasting; this alone show Kanye is about crafting his ‘art’ rather then showing off who his friends are, none of the afore mentioned artists are credited as a feature, the only people you actually hear clearly are Rhianna, Alicia and Elly/La Roux. The song itself is a really well crafted song , the song would be a big hit if released due to the catchy Rihanna hook and Kanye’s flow and clever lyrics. Fergie bring a surprise rap, so much so I didn’t actually pick up on it been her. Kid Cudi also provides a nice break in the song. Overall this track is a great addition to the album and continues the momentum from the first 3 tracks.
Monster [Feat. Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver]
Bon Iver get the track under way with a scary opening in a typical scary voice, and a scream. We then kick it off with Rick Ross with a hard rap opening with the line “Bitch i’m a monster, no good blood sucker/fat motherfucker now look who’s in trouble” this for me really sets the tone for the track you instantly know this isn’t going to be a typical track featuring a number of artists, we then move onto Kanye West who in my opinion is out shined by every other person on the track. It’s not that Kanye is bad he has good lyrics, his flow is as good as it has ever been it just doesn’t really take off or go anywhere maybe it’s his voice or his just laid back take on the verse, should of come harder here. Jay-Z then hits like a shotgun blast, instantly the quality is raised “Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong, Loch Ness, Goblin, Ghoul, a zombie with no conscience, question. what do these have in common? – everybody knows I’m a motherfucking monster!” he then continues with the same godly flow with some of his best work in a long time, an excellent feature from Jigga. Up next is a female who needs no introduction, Nicki Minaj who I would of never expect to take the shine from Kanye or Jigga, but I think the whole rap game would agree Nicki really snaps and steals the show on here. Flow is ridiculous, lyrics are obnoxious but it really works in portraying a ‘Monster’. Charlie Wilson then helps out in finishing off the track; overall I think this is 1 of the best tracks on the album, everyone came really hard.
So Appalled (Feat. Jay-z, Swizz Beats, Pusha -T, Prynce Cy Hi & RZA
Here we have yet another big collaboration; but this right here is the best track on the album in terms of lyricism, and all out Greatness. The track starts with Swizz Beats doing a typical DJ opening , it then cuts to Kanye who really shines on this track some really good lyrics “Niggaz be writin’ bullshit like they gotta work/ Niggaz going through real shit, man they outta work” and continues to deliver punchlines, with lots of charisma, timing, and precision it is a really nice verse from Yeezy. Up next is for me my favourite feature of the whole year; Jay-Z abseloutely fucking destroys this! right from his opening “How should I begin this/I’m just so offended/how am I even mentioned by all these fucking beginners?/I’m so appalled I might buy the mall/just to show Niggaz how much more I have in store” he just bangs out great lyrics effortlessly with the best seen right. Jigga shines so brightly its hard to remember anyone elses verse as his lines just stick, this really proves to me and everyone else Jay still got it. Push-T of The Clipse is then given the impossible task of following the feature of the year; he puts in a very solid verse though with some really creative lines including “an arrogant drug dealer the legend I’ve become/ CNN said I’d be dead by 21/ black jack I just pulled in aces/ you looking at the king in his face”. Up next is Cyhi i’ve not really heard him before so I didn’t know what to expect, the main is very skilled! some really noteworthy lines such as “My movement is like the civil rights I’m Ralph David/ Abernathy, so call my lady Rosa Parks/ I am nothing like them niggaz baby those are marks/ I met this girl on Valentines day fucked her in May/ she found out about April so she chose to March” a really on point verse all round. Then we have RZA to pretty much talk out the track it’s a waste of the Wu-Tang wordsmith. Overall a very strong track that brought great verses all round lots of stand out lines; definitely 1 of the strongest tracks to come out.
Devil In A new Dress [Feat. Rick Ross]
Right from the opening you know this is gonna be a laid back chilled out rap; and that is exactly what this track is, a nice downplayed track. Beat has another classical choir sample running through it, which adds to the atmosphere of the song, Kanye starts out the track with a nice line and continues to bring nice lines. even on this laid back slow track Kanye still manages to keep your attention and deliver a nice flow, with some intelligent lyrics. All this been said he sounds as if he is drunk and just walked in the studio and spit some rhymes lol alot of the lines are tongue in cheek and randomly sings in the middle of the track. We then get a lengthy break with some guitars been played kinda badly but nice at the same time, it really works either way. BANG Rick Ross really lights up the track, for me he outshines Yeezy effortlessly; he brings an aggressive flow spits really hard and has some really nice lines without this verse I feel the track would of got too indulgent and boring. The best of the lines can be seen left. Overall its a slow change of pace but Rick Ross’s verse is very welcomed! definitely listen out for him!
Runaway [Feat. Pusha T]
This track right here is a damn near masterpiece. Simple 1 note at a time piano is played with a simple melody, this goes on for around 35 seconds, really building up to something and creating an atmosphere, you instantly know something nice is coming in terms of a drop. Sure enough the great old school drums kick in and the piano no loner seems out of place it fits in so nicely with the track. We then have Kanye singing a really nice hook; really drew me into the track. Yeezy then impacts gracefully with his rap opening with “She finds pictures in my E-mail, i sent this bitch a picture of my dick/ I don’t know what it is with females, but I’m not too good at that shit” and then it trns into a half-sung half-rapped type of verse, only Kanye can do this well in my opinion (Kid Cudi also). It really works on this track the singing compliments the drums and piano really well, you can tell Kanye really knows how to craft a song. Pusha T then break in with a great verse, much harder verse then Kanye but it still fits onto the elegant pianos very well with lines like “Now pick your next move, you could leave or live wit’ it/ Ichabod Crane with that motherfuckin’ top off/ Split and go where? Back to wearin’ knockoffs, ha?”. the track is then sung out by Kanye until it really breaks down into the piano’s heard at the start, it then builds up with Guitars and violins like an orchestra, the thing here is Kanye distorts the instruments to get a different sound out of them and for me he didn’t need to do that Without he distortion it would of been a total masterpiece. Over all though this is a brilliant track, how many rappers can you name who can pull off a 9 minute track and have the majority of the song be instrumental and have it called a masterpiece? I can’t think of any; this is an example of why Kanye a very special artist.
Hell of A Life
First time I heard this I thought P!NK was about to come on, it really has that sound at the start of the track, kinda similar to the track P!NK and Eminem did together. the drums then hit and Kanye starts his rapid-fire raps with “I think i just fell inlove with a pornstar/ turn the camera on she a born star” he then continues to deliver nice punchlines in quick succession, and breaks into a catchy chorus “Have you lost your mind/ tell me when you think we crossed the line/ no more drugs for me/ pussy and religion is all I need/ grab my hand and we can live a hell of a life”. Kanye hits hard again with his second verse “you a wild bitch/ tell me what I gotta do to be that guy/ said, her price go down if she ever fuck a black guy” Yeezy then continues to describe more sexual acts, he has so much charisma he can pull these things off without sounding crude. The track stays at this level and continues to finish with guitar solos and a breakdown with Kanye almost singing A cappella, Great track yet again.
Blame Game [Feat. John Legend]
Another piano led beat with dramatic violins for emphasis, but here we have the amazing voice of John Legend, he puts in a really nice performance but this verse is set apart from his other in that he swears “you call me motherfucker for long/ at the end of it you know we’re both wrong”. Kanye then snaps in with “On the bathroom wall I wrote I’d rather argue with you then be with someone else” he continues to talk about a relationship in trouble directing the words towards the female in question. The song continues to tell the story of a messed up relationship in a really creating real way rather the boy band inspired. This track is more in the scope of Eminem with lines such as “been a long time since I spoke to you/ in the bathroom gripping you up, fucking and choking you”. This is another great edition to the album, a playful yet serious track with a nice melodic beat and the vocals from John Legend help the track. Another thing to listen out for is Chris Rock does a skit near the end of the track it’s a really good way to finish off the track, another 7 min+ track too, giving you your money’s worth.
Lost In The World [Feat. Bon Iver]
Bon Iver start off the track with some auto-tune heavy vocals, which I really don’t like, it’s not needed at all in my opinion, the vocals start getting faster building up to the start of the instrumental, the drums then kick in and are worth the wait, they are a faster tempo with real impact it’s like an African ceremony, heavy handed melodic drums, Kanye then begins to sing and then goes into his rap with “your my Devil, your my angel/ your my Heaven, your my Hell” he keeps with the pace of the beat very well and keeps with the punchlines I really enjoy Kanye West rapping with some pace it really shows off his skills. The chorus is really catchy and stayed in my head for awihle. Towards the end of the song you get a quick clip of ‘Gil Scott-Heron‘ setting up the finale of the album, the song then heads towards the end with hard beating African drums and continues until the end of the song.
Who Will Survive In America [Feat. Gil Scott-Heron]
Directly follows on from ‘Lost In The World’ using the beat from the song and over the instrumental you get a speech from the Poet Gil Scott-Heron. I found this a great way to end the album, i can’t really say much about it as it’s very short, but its a nice touch.
Conclusion: I have abseloutely no idea how to sum this album up; It’s an abseloute masterpiece, every track is just flawless, the raps are brilliant, insightful, delivered effortlessly, the features are phenomenal!, production is fantastic as you expect from Mr. West. If you hate this album, I can only presume you don’t understand the concepts and what Kanye has put on show, each track is crafted like its been put onto a stage, I’m just in Awe of how talented this man has become, he gets alot of stick for how he acts, but I can’t deny on a track he is a genius. The album for me is his best album since his debut, it does stand up against that album too. Just so I don’t talk about this for another hour, I shall end the review saying this… if you haven’t heard this, GO GET IT!
Stand Outs: Dark Fantasy, Monster, So Appalled, Runaway & All The Lights.