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The Up-Turn

@TheUpTurnMusic / tinyurl.com/upturnfbook

So far 2010 has been a year of great hip-hop for all types of listeners.  Das Racist established themselves a a more than just novelty with Sit Down, Man,  Big Boi garnered critical and mainstream success with his first solo effort Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, and Odd Future are creating some of the most interesting and inventive hip-hop with force and swag.  Now it is Yeezy’s turn to leave his mark on 2010 with his long awaited My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  Read the entire review after the jump.

If MBDTF had never been released people would have looked to the amazing Late Registration as Kanye’s magnum opus.  This is not the case however, as MBDTF eclipses all of Kanye’s other efforts in nearly every department.  It is long, it is schizophrenic, it is lush and it is undeniably the work of an obsessed musical genius.  This album is the result of an artist at his lowest, driven by the need to be the best.  It is no surprise that Kanye hasn’t had the best public image in the past few years.  People boo’ed him at shows and he became the butt of every joke.  All the negative attention could have destroyed Kanye.  Luckily for us, it didn’t.  In his half-hour Runaway movie Kanye interacts with a female phoenix.  After listening to the album countless times, it is clear that Kanye is the phoenix.

Dark Fantasy opens the album as captivatingly and interestingly as possible.  Nicki Minaj spits out exactly what the title describes, a dark fairy tale that both scares the audience away while pulling us in.  Then the piano and vocal samples come in and we know immediately that Kanye is back.  All the fears from his short detour into auto-tune, which many fans hated, are gone as Dark Fantasy develops into one of the catchiest and greatest songs of Kanye’s.  His lyrics are just as sharp as ever, especially the much praised line “too many Urkels on your team, that’s why your wins-low.”  Gorgeous follows the energy of Dark Fantasy with a slow jam featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon.  The song features a heavy dose of Cudi’s vocals which fit in great with the vintage, r&b vibe that the song goes for.  Kanye’s vocals sound like they are being spoken through a radio mike which furthers the great vintage feel to the song.

POWER is a song most people are already familiar with as it was the first track that leaked from the album last spring.  The song has remained the same and it is just as forceful and driving as ever.  The clear album single, and song that will probably most people’s favorite track is the anthemic All Of The Lights.  All Of The Lights is preceded by a minute long interlude which shows off Kanye’s compositional chops.  The interlude leads right into the simply epic 5 minute track that features more people than I can type out.  Although Terrence wishes Kanye had utilized Beyonce for the chorus of this song I think Rihanna does a great job, and her voice fits in perfectly with the track.  Despite the large amount of people that are featured on this track Kanye is still undoubtedly the star of the ensemble as he spits out some more of his sharp and personal lyrics.  All Of The Lights takes on more meaning as it seems to represent Kanye’s acceptance that he is going to forever remain in the tabloids and spotlight of the media.  The amount of attention Kanye can get clearly has had an affect on him and with All Of The Lights Kanye seems to be finally willing to embrace the criticisms.

Monster is a track that I initially did not like very much, finding it cluttered and unaffected.  My opinion has since changed as I now find Monster to be one of the standout tracks lyrically and technically.  Some of the best rapping of the year can be found on this song as Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Kanye recite some of their greatest verses of their careers.  Of course Nicki Minaj steals the show with her amazing verse on the song.  “Yeah my money’s so tall that my barbie’s gotta climb it/Hotter than a middle eastern climate/Find it 20 mataran duty whine it/While it, nicki on a pit while I sign it/How these n-ggas so one-track minded” is among the many lyrical gems Minaj spits in this track.  Beyond the rapping Bon Iver’s singing does a great job adding to the tension and darkness of the track.

Devil In a New Dress:

So Appalled and Devil In a New Dress are two tracks that could have easily fit on any of Kanye’s first three albums.  Their production, samples and lyrics bring Kanye back to his older days while still showing the Kanye has improved and learned from his past.  The line “We love Jesus/But she done learned a lot from Satan” from Devil In a New Dress has quickly become one of my favorite lines in the entire album.  So Appalled finds Kanye taking a back seat letting his guests share some of the spot light.  Both of these songs are some of the most immediate and have become some of my favorite Kanye tracks.  Runaway is another one of the tracks we have been familiar with for awhile and the track once again shines on the album.  Unlike the versions we have heard before, this version of Runaway contains one of Kanye’s least accessible and riskiest moves of his career.  At around the 6 minute mark Kanye begins to sing indecipherable with an autotune turning his voice into a messy of fuzzy sonics.  This continues until the songs end at around 9 minutes and will probably isolate many of Kanye’s mainstream fans.

Hell Of a Life is probably my least favorite song off the album, but that really doesn’t so much considering how great the album is.  The raw bass and arpeggiating synths of this song are incredibly unique and interesting as Kanye recites some of his darkest lyrics on the album.  Some of the subjects include making nuns cum and gangband which sounds more Odd Future than Yeezy.  Blame Game is one of the most unique songs on the album as it features amazing vocals from John Legend.  Up until around 5:20 the song seems like another fantastic track from Kanye, sampling twinkling pianos and vintage crackling.  Then Yeezy hands over the song to Chris Rock where he performs an incredibly explicit skit for about 2 minutes.  Lines like “that’s some Cirque du Soleil pussy” will have laughing and maybe even confused.

Finally, the Bon Iver sampling Lost in the World and it’s accompanying Who Will Survive in America send the album off strong.  Woods is a Bon Iver track that strays away from his typically stripped down many and Kanye utilizes the auto-tuned song and builds a fantastic track around it, changing the lyrics “Lost in the woods” to “Lost in the world.”  The song builds into an epic track features multiple samples and vocals.  Lost in the World is competing with Dark Fantasy as my favorite track on the album and possibly my favorite Kanye track ever.  Who Will Survive in America is the minute long Gill Scott Heron sampling track that closes off the album.  Heron’s spoken word’s that end the album fit in greatly with the themes of the album and is an astounding track.

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this review, Kanye’s newest album is an epic, stunning and complex album.  It is easily one of my favorite albums of the year and I recommend it to haters and fans of Kanye.  I know I am not alone with my opinion that this is the greatest Kanye album to date and it is a nearly perfect masterwork.  I am sure 10 years from now My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will remain one of the most influential and stunning hip hop albums of all time.

9.5/10

-PK

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