Back in the seventies, Rolling Stone was the ultimate pop culture and music magazine. Now it’s 2010 and Rolling Stone is ran by a bunch of biased, burnt-out hippies who long for the good old days. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Pitchfork Media, a website so cutting edge that they make or break upcoming bands and dictate what’s cool and what’s lame among the hipster crowd. Pitchfork has utter contempt for anything written before 1990 and regards Rolling Stone as the Antichrist.
So you can imagine my surprise that when I discovered both Pitchfork and Rolling Stone named Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy their number one album of the year. Both lists read like you might imagine them. Rolling Stone’s was a hazy trip down pop culture lane, while Pitchfork’s choices were so obscure that as music obsessed as I am I only recognized 10% of them. But despite their differences both lists hailed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a tour-de-force and the magnum opus of twenty-first century rap. Regardless of my distaste for the modern day rap scene, I picked up a copy of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to see what all the hubbub was about.
Unfortunately, the modern day rap scene is something of a joke. Instead of crying out for justice most modern day rap is a dick-measuring contest. It’s all about who has the most bitches, the most money, and the most infamy. While Kanye shocked the dying rap scene back into life with 2004s The College Dropout, he’s always been a dick-measure-er, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is no exception.
Other outrageous moments include “Hell Of A Life”, where West falls in love with a porn star, gives up drugs, and takes up religion so they can live together and have sex. On “Powerful” Kanye laments that his life sucks because he’s been too influential on the modern day rap scene. It’s a boast of such epic proportions you’d laugh yourself hoarse if he wasn’t so earnest about it.
But by far the best track off Fantasy is second single “Runaway”. In a ballsy plot twist of M. Night Shamalan proportions, Kanye does a complete 180 degree turn. In sharp contrast to the auto-fellatio of “Power”, Kanye laments on his inability to be successful with women despite his fame and fortune. In the first verse Kanye mourns “I sent this bitch a picture of my dick/I don’t know what it is with females/But I’m not too good with that shit”. After the look-how-big-my-dick-is ear barrage of Fantasy’s first eight tracks, the first time you hear “Runaway” it’s honesty and yearning will knock you on your ass.
Unfortunately on second listen “Runaway” loses it’s shock value and impact. The chorus of “Runway” goes “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags!/Let’s have a toast for the assholes!”. Upon second reflection you realize nobody is a bigger douchebag or asshole than Kayne West, and thus “Runaway” immediately loses its potency. Fortunately the irony of “Runaway” fits in perfectly with the rest of Fantasy, even more-so when you realize that Kanye has managed to write a boast in the form of a heartbreakingly honest rhythm ‘n’ blues song.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy may be a dick-measuring commercial rap album, but it’s one that’s done so well that even haters of the genre will find themselves enjoying it. Everything about Fantasy, from the album title to the lyrics to the beats to the production, is balls-to-the-wall arrogant. It’s an album so full of itself you can’t help but further inflate its enormous ego. With much pompous fanfare, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy gets a well-earned three out of four.
Editor's Note: Not enough Kanye for you? Well, you could always open up any magazine on the face of the earth to get your 'ye fix... Or! You could read what resident rappin' superstar, Emanuel Vinson, said about West a few weeks back!