Kanye West Crowns Himself the King of Hip-Hop

Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Roc-A-Fella

Between the Bush-bashing, Taylor-crushing and pornographic album cover, it’s a shock Kanye West even spent enough time in the studio to produce a complete, finished album. But on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the rapper marries his signature dick-swinging lyrics with grandiose instruments, creating a perfect crescendo of sound and ego that continues from the first track to the last.

Fantasy takes the best of experimental kid-brother attempt 808s and Heartbreaks and injects the throwback heart of ’05 West-classic Late Registration to create the most complete hip-hop LP the genre has seen in years. If hip-hop still has a pulse, it’s Kanye. His latest couples the top dogs of hip-hop (Alicia Keyes, RZA) with African drumbeats, violin strings and plucky piano notes — he’s not just making music, he’s the pied piper of the mainstream.

And Kanye knows it: “My presence is a present, kiss my ass,” he demands on the pitch-black and drum-heavy haunt “Monster,” as a growling Jay-Z and shrieking Nicki Minaj join in on the destruction. On summer single “Power,” Kanye continues the percussion trend, as he spits about a man caught up in the glamour of his own fame over a synth-warped King Crimson sample and a chorus of wailing African goddesses. “Runaway”  is beautiful in its minimalism, featuring a steady stream of piano tinkling as Kanye turns down the bravado enough to reveal a shred of modesty (“You been putttin’ up with my shit just way too long”).

Not that Kanye’s been lazy on the album’s remainders. Each ditty plunges the listener into an unexplored facet of Kanye’s psychosis. Some are dark and twisted, others warm extremities left numb and raw by the cold frigidity of songs like “So Appalled.” On “All of the Lights,” the beat rushes, scattered, as trumpets ring out. A persistent chorus of feedback synth — bordering on dubstep — runs through “Hell of a Life.” Though “All of the Lights” features a “We are the World”-worthy host of A-listers (an M.I.A.-esque Fergie, Elton John and Rihanna), Kanye is decidedly the star of each piece. His vetted swag is never overshadowed by the song’s backdrop or contributing artists. Instead, they carry him, framing his scene-stealing ballads.

As always, lyrical purists need not apply; Kanye is still self-promoting. He devotes the entire latter half of “Blame Game” to chest thumping, as a guy praises a girl’s progression with charmers like “My dick thanks you” and “Who got your pussy reupholstered?” to which she dutifully responds “Yeezy taught me.”

Sure, he may still be a PHD (pretty huge dick), but he’s got us tripping off Fantasy’s power — something that hasn’t happened since he struck gold with “Touch the Sky.” For once, there’s no need to apologize. (10/10)


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