Album | Hip Hop | 104 mins
Rating: DIG IT!
It’s often said that an artist’s music is an extension of their personality. From the darkest of songs to the most inspirational, you can sense the heart and soul of the artist in each track with every listen. However, the personality of the artist and the music itself can conflict. Enter Kanye West, world-famous producer turned rap superstar. West’s music has expanded across all genres and garnered recognition from the likes of Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey, but his accolades are shadowed only by his notoriety in the media. After his most recent scandal involving country star Taylor Swift, West briefly went into hiding; but now he returns with his fifth album, “My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy.”
With any good piece of artistry, a mood must be set. West is no stranger to this rule as the intro track “Dark Fantasy” dives right into the mind of the Chicago emcee and creates an eerie and surreal atmosphere, one that is amplified by the call and response of the chorus: “Can we get much higher? So high.” Adding to the eeriness is the lyrically frightening, “Monster.” With Jay-Z pillaging through listeners’ ears, Nicki Minaj battling her alter ego, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon illustrating his dark adventure, this track is truly a modern day monster mash.
When the album reaches its midway point, West is at his most vulnerable. “Runaway” forgoes a theatrical beat for a much more minimalistic sound. West, rapping alongside Pusha T. of the Clipse, begins to chronicle their mistakes and suggest you, “Run away as fast as you can.” Nothing is left untouched as West then proceeds to talk about his heartbreak in “Blame Game” featuring John Legend.
Despite the new introspective insight Kanye has gained, he is still the boisterous and flamboyant man we have come to love (or hate). Few people can get away with cursing the entire “Saturday Night Live” cast and referring to themselves as superheroes in the same song, but Kanye does it effortlessly in “POWER.” He also has the audacity to recruit 11 different artists solely for vocal support, as evident in the energetic and horn-heavy “All of the Lights.”
“My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy” is a culmination of West’s wrongdoings and creativity, all on wax. It is the perfect synchronization of artist and music, and it has the elements to withstand the test of time. While it is unknown what lies in his future, it is clear his present is illuminating brightly and, as he says, “Every superhero needs his theme music.”