Kanye season continues with 2010's classic 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. This album is the pinnacle of Kanye's career, and followed the darkest part of his life - mainly centered around the 2009 VMA's Taylor Swift incident. Kanye exiled himself to Hawaii to work on this album, a decision that would produce one of the greatest albums of all time. For how long this is, I'm going to simply state a few things because it'll all be explained in detail below. The production is perfect, the features are perfect, it's Kanye's best album in terms of lyricism and the whole concept of the album is fame and the dark sides of it that the everyday human doesn't get to see.
The opening track of this masterpiece is 'Dark Fantasy' and does the perfect job at opening the album. We first hear Nicki Minaj monologuing about how fame isn't what you think it is almost in a fairy tale way. "Can we get much higher" then bellows out in pain, suggesting being at the top of the world isn't as good as it's made out to be. The rest of the song focuses on the expectations of fame over immaculate production. The contrasting hook suggests that side of fame isn't what Kanye's going to discuss throughout the album though. We then get one of Kanye's best ever songs lyrically titled 'Gorgeous'. Kanye speaks mainly on inequalities in America & his position in the rap game with numerous metaphors and punchlines. We get a great feature from the legendary Raekwon & Kid Cudi perfectly sings the hook of this song. The production again, like every song is excellent and has more of a rock theme on this one. Now onto 'POWER' one of the greatest songs ever created. The whole songs overall focus is Kanye's fame and controversies. He mentions the reaction to the Taylor Swift incident, has a verse on inequalities in America and finishes this track with an outro suggesting he could kill himself now while at the top of the game so he doesn't have to witness himself fall off - which ultimately is his beautiful yet dark, twisted fantasy. The sample of '21st Century Schizoid Man' is used perfectly and once again, the production is incredible and that's an understatement.
Following the beautiful 'All of the Lights (Interlude)' we get onto the poppy track 'All of the Lights'. The track features about six hundred artists, hits us with an addicting Rihanna hook and triumphant production. The whole song is a double entendre, with one story focusing on a man who has caught a domestic abuse case and can no longer see his daughter - which acts as a metaphor for Kanye West's Taylor Swift incident and his relationship with hip-hop since. It's one of the most replayable tracks on the whole album. Next is the posse cut 'Monster' featuring a short but sweet input from Rick Ross, solid Kanye verse, slightly disappointing but passable Jay-Z verse but incredible Nicki Minaj verse. Nicki Minaj steals the show here, and what makes her verse so good is the non-stop vocal pitch changes and flow switches that keep it so fast paced and interesting, as well as some clever lines she throws in there such as "And I'll say, bride of Chucky, it's Child's Play//Just killed another career, it's a mild day". Directly after that is another track with loads of features 'So Appalled'. It features Jay-Z, Pusha T & CyHi The Prynce (who has the best verse) as they spit their verses with such pride and boastful deliveries of the great but eerie boom-bap production allowing room for RZA & Swizz Beatz to add some nice refrains and hooks to the track. It's probably got the least replay value on the album but is still a great track.
'Devil in a New Dress' features one of the best beats ever, with the instrumental made up of a soul sample with drums and a light stringed guitar layed over the top creating a beautiful sound. Kanye West focuses on being an asshole in this story (a key theme of the album) as the whole song revolves around a love interest, "I ordered the jerk, she said you are what you eat//You see I always loved that sense of humor//But tonight you should have seen how quiet the room was". Following Ye's input we get a guitar solo from Mike Dean which gradually builds up to a legendary Rick Ross verse. The way Ross delivers his verse with such emphasis and need partners up well to the beat as he rides it so effortlessly giving us double and even triple entendres. What a verse from Rick Ross.
I won't shy away from calling the next track 'Runaway' the greatest song ever made. Firstly, the basic piano keys are hauntingly beautiful, basic but packed with so much emotion as the drums that get involved bring this production all together for one of the best beats ever. Kanye's vocals seep out sorrow and regret, as he advises his love interest (and subliminally the public) that he won't change from what he is - an arsehole - and to runaway from their own benefit. He acknowledges the man he is, a douche-bag as he says himself and that's what makes this the centerpiece for 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. Pusha T has a flawless verse as well, all dedicated to being a massive arsehole with women and acknowledging himself that's exactly who he is, "I'm just young, rich, and tasteless, P". The outro, nearly five minutes in length, is just the instrumental with Kanye's vocals being muffled by a vocoder - which is open to interpretation for what it means. It could be how his public outbursts are perceived, the time in his life where his jaw was shattered and he couldn't talk or his ability to transform his faults to art. Either way, this song is the definition of perfection. Kanye talks about using fame in a corrupt way to either marry or shag a pornstar on 'Hell of a Life'. Again, this is brilliant. Firstly, the beat is so grimy and obnoxious that it carries the theme and track perfectly, while Ye talks about the hell of a life including sex, drugs, partying and chaos. Hell of a life is also a double entendre for a life of sinning. However, Kanye never says the 'f' in life, suggesting this is all a mere fantasy. Finally, there's a spiralling piano during the hook which makes this life of his seem so fast paced and chaotic - prime example of production carrying the story along.
The next track 'Blame Game' features John Legend who gives us a smooth, emotional hook talking about playing the blame game with a female - who in this case would be Kanye's ex girlfriend Amber Rose. The song could potentially be seen as a metaphor for fame as well - but the main focus is definitely on his relationship with Amber Rose. The song is full of contradictions, distorted vocals and cries for help which is a symbol for Kanye's mind at the time and is a key theme for the whole album. There's an enjoyable skit at the end performed by Chris Rock, where Chris plays Amber's new man (possibly Wiz Khalfia) and more or less states Kanye taught her everything she needs to know from how to treat her man to how to please her man. Also the production creates a very melancholy atmosphere with the piano's, drums and violins clashing in such a despairing way creating one of the most heat wrenching performances of the album. The final actual song off this album is once again an amazing one once again titled 'Lost in the World'. It samples Bon Iver's 'Woods' and gives us a victorious, triumphant beat but the tone also sets a pretty depressing one. The contradiction in the beat sums up what this track is about and the whole album - Kanye's conflicted, confused, down mind where he isn't very sure what he wants. The phrase chanted in one of the hooks, "Run from the lights, run from the night, run for your life", is an important one - it also sums up what Kanye wants do - run from the spotlight, attention and move to the dark (a more private life). Fun fact while we're here, this was originally a poem he had written for Kim Kardashian. The whole album finishes with a poem from Gil Scott-Heron, titled 'Who Will Survive in America' which is a very fitting end to this classic.
So that's it, a review done of one of the greatest albums ever created. You've read enough of my thoughts, but to quickly conclude this is Kanye's magnum opus, this right here will be the biggest highlight of his career. An inner battle put down on paper in his most impressive way with the best artistic vision I've ever seen from an album, it will go down in history for as long as music lives.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Dark Fantasy, Gorgeous, POWER, All of the Lights (Interlude), All of the Lights, Monster, Devil in a New Dress, Runaway, Hell of a Life, Blame Game, Lost in the World
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: So Appalled
OVERALL RATING: Solid 10/10