April 27, 2009
Ever just “hear” a song before? Not listen, but hear? You may the artist, or the beat but you’re really not paying attention to what they are saying for whatever reason. Your brain just doesn’t connect the lyrics to the rhythm. But the left catches up with the right eventually, and when that happens it’s like an epiphany. I had that tonight.
While messing around with my new mixer scrolling through my recent downloads for new music to mix I came across a new song by the Rapper turn sanger turn back rapper and obscenely expensive shoe designer Martin Louis The King Jr. ‘Magic Man’ is from the upcoming compilation ‘G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night.’ When I first heard it I was just glad Kanye was rapping again and good, so I cued it up. But when I actually listened to it, I was amazed. No its not a great song, but its a cool one and worth a listen. Kanye along with Malik Yusef, and Common, tell the story of domestic violence in a creative and intersing way that I haven’t heard since ‘Love Is Blind.’
Just focusing on Kanye, I think this is him at his best; really going in and dropping knowledge on the track, something that has been lacking in his flow since ‘The College Dropout’ he’s definitely the standout. And if he continues down this path, I can’t wait to listen to more.
December 5, 2008
When I first heard about Kanye West’s new album I was skeptical and somewhat disappointed and also a little concerned. Skeptical because one of my favorite artists, one who I attributed to genius status has chosen to follow the newest and tired cliché trend in hip-hop to forgo innovative wordplay for a robot machine and become another rapper turn sanger. Disappointed because we were promised a collection of albums in a series… the next being Good Ass Job. And concerned because I thought that he may have finally lost his mind or was finding it hard to work while still grieving the tragic loss of his mother. But then I realized that, this is Kanye West I was talking about. And hate it or love it Kanye is a genius and in his grief and insanity he delivered a great album that as he calls it is not hip-hop but a work of pop art. Well almost…
Say You Will: Kanye croons over a haunting but inviting melody that just screams REMIX. And while he contends that this album is not hip-hop but pop art, I could hear a rapper going in on this beat. Check out Drake’s more than dope rendition here. The song in itself is tells the story of love and loss but the lyrics also convey a deeper frustration that being in love can cause. When I grab your neck/I touch your soul.
Welcome To Heartbreak: One of my favorites and a standout track on the album. The production on this is solid, a very complex beat, with the keys and the drums coming in at exactly the right moments. And while Kanye’s lyrics about the things that are missing from life, and that all the money and the fame can’t compensate for it, ‘my friend showed my pictures of his kids/and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs.’ Adding to this piece is a powerful hook by Kid CuDi adding something extra special that brings the track to life.
Heartless: This is one for the clubs even if he didn’t mean it to be. But while listening to it I can’t help but imagine a line of sorority girls with their pinky’s in the air doing synchronized dances around the floor. The track is good in that it’s catchy and has a steady melody but in my opinion can be overlooked in the rotation.
Amazing: This is the closest that Kanye has to rapping on this album also ironically the track where the auto tune effect is most pronounced. It’s the standard Kanye braggadocio I’m the best, I’m a genius and so forth. But moreover it’s the man telling his audience that even though some of you don’t like me, I know that I’m great. And no matter what you’ll never take that from me… The additional verse from Jeezy doesn’t really add anything to the track but it is a nice departure from the auto tune enhanced singing.
Love Lockdown: The track that started the love/hate controversy, and made people look at Ye sideways. I actually loved it when I first heard it live on the VMA’s mainly because at that particular time I was actually going through the same situation he’s describes in the song. The lyrics are powerful and delivered with great intensity made more better by the steady and continuous thumping of the simulated heart beat and tribal drums making this track standout.
Paranoid: Another favorite on the album, partly because it’s so fun. Everyone can relate to the lyrics about the paranoid partner that is constantly worried about something being wrong instead of what’s right. It’s very catchy and you may find yourself unconsciously singing along to it. Hopefully alone in the car.
Robocop: Well they can’t all be winners. This in my opinion is the dud of the album. The one that I find myself skipping to get on to the next track. The Coldplayesque beat and dead lyrics don’t do anything for me and I don’t see how it really fits into the overall theme of the album. It sounds like it should have just been left on the cutting room floor.
Streetlights: By far my favorite track on the album but it’s so solemn that it kind of hard to listen too. Sort of like when I was younger and listening to REM but couldn’t do it in excess because it was just so damn depressing. Yeah that’s what it reminds me of. The emotion that is expressed in this song is so powerful and the feeling that it evokes and gets amplified by the background choir. The images that come to mind when listening are beautiful, and again I can see why Ye calls this pop art.
Bad News: I don’t really know how to describe this one. It begins very suddenly and feels more like an interlude than an actual feature. Lyrically Kanye is very solemn in his delivery and sounds as if it was sang with a lot of hurt. The production is beautiful and plays out like a symphony concert rising in tempo and then it slowly going down until it fades away.
See You In My Nightmares: The obligatory featuring Lil’ Wayne track that appears on almost every album that has been released this year. Of course he too makes use of the auto tune enhancement. And you would think that the two together would be overkill but they both blend very well together on the track. The flow and the delivery is spot on and Weezy and Jeezy made a surprisingly good ballad together.
Coldest Winter: Another favorite but a very sad piece in which Kanye pays tribute and eulogizes his mother. Again a song that is delivered with an understandable feeling of pain, it’s a very heartfelt song and the highlight of the album. The melody is poignant and hypnotic and the ups and down in tempo draws the listener deeper into the song. I wish more artists were as this passionate about their music.
I give this album 6 out of 7 headnods. 808’s and Heartbreaks may not end up being the master work of art that Kanye wanted it to be it is still a very solid and beautiful album. It show’s his progression as an artist and that he’s not afraid of stepping outside and perhaps compromising himself at expense of his fan base. Those that appreciate good art and good music will love this and with the exception of a couple missteps one that will definitely get repeat listens. This is one to place in your collection.
*Head Nod Scale
1=Don’t waste your time like I did mine.
2=Waste your time like I did mine but I dare you to disagree.
3=Well, there was the single.
4=If it were a hand in spades there’s “two and a possible”.
5=It’s a “good” album. Meaning at least 3 or 4 solid songs.
6=Really Good Project. Has the “Rewind Factor” more than once.
7=The number of completion. Great Album. Instant Classic