My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Sounds like a bad short story written by a goth teenager. But no, it’s the title of Kanye West’s latest opus, and in his complex yet elementary mind, it all makes sense. Porn stars wearing nothing but Prada, sick beats and self reflection at an all night party in front of the gates of hell. You can hate, or believe the hype. Listen or tune Kanye out. Whatever you think of the person, the artist is on a whole other level.
Fantasy is the ultimate fusion of West’s previous two albums Graduation and 808’s & Heartbreak. On the surface Fantasy is slick, flashy, over-the-top and 100% killer Kanye. The production dominates every other rap album released this year. “Power” brings us West at his cockiest. “Monster” slays with Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross. On the whole though, the album is kind of thematic downer, and lacks the pop crossover potential of Graduation. “All of the Lights” has my favorite beat on the album, but the lyrics are hardly party starters. “I slapped my girl/she called the Feds/I did that time/I spent that bread,” West raps.
808’s might have alienated his core hip-hop audience, but is showed Kanye as vulnerable and human. Despite the auto-tune obsession, that album was necessary for West to grow as an artist. So while the minimalistic songs have disappeared, the introspection and transparency are still present. Whether rapping about sexting or fast cars or fashion, there just feels like there’s another level beyond the conceitedness. West isn’t afraid to go where most rappers avoid–tangible emotions.
Fantasy is an excellent album that will fit nicely into the Kanye West catalog, most notably for it’s production and scope. Kanye has stepped up his lyrical game–his verse’s sound seasoned and there are plenty of great one liners. There is no fat here; the tone remains consistent and while most songs stretch to over six minutes, it feels necessary. West’s vision has been realized. Unfortunately, it feels like only a quarter the album is new since several of the (best) tracks were previously released as singles or through West’s G.O.O.D. Fridays promotion.
This album isn’t destined for the masses. Rap fans will respect West even more for his efforts, but “Gold Digger” Kanye is dead. I suspect Fantasy will fall out of my rotation rather quickly, but I won’t forget what happened here. Because it’s something.