Sometimes my students grade-grub like, “Mr. A, why can’t you hook me up with a 100?” The answer is equally based in belief and bullshit – I don’t think there is such a thing as artistic perfection because that implies there is a standard against which we measure creativity. That said, with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West transgresses paradigms and defies the limitations of genre, thusly granting himself the highest compliment payable to an artist. As if self-flattery were an issue here…
If cacophonic is the new symphonic than, like Radiohead’s Kid A or El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, Yeezy’s Fantasy is a musical milestone monumental for its refusal to trim back its noisy excesses. Even y’all vegetarians know that fat is where you find the flavor and, in this spirit, would-be two and a half minute neck snappers become epic spirituals exploring aural peaks and introverted valleys – peep the reeking-of-RZA “Dark Fantasy.” In turn, “Blame Game” should rightfully be three minutes shorter, but Chris Rock dropping science on Cirque du Soleil p#ssy over John Legend’s phantom piano in the wake of Ye’s vocally and emotionally effected tale of deception is just so damn off that it couldn’t be more hilariously on! And while the stunning “Runaway” (feat. Pusha T) could aptly end with the Halloween-type piano stabs it opens with, it extends and shifts past nine minutes, past reality, past what’s come to be expected, into some kind of dreamy confusion – so yeah Kanye, keep runnin’ baby, we’re all right behind you.
Back when he first came onto the scene, one knock was that ‘Ye wasn’t nice on the mic like he was on the boards. And while this is still the case, to some degree (really, how could it not be?), the boy’s shown ample flex from one record to the next. Maturity evidenced in apologies to what’s her face and dick-riding HOV on “Big Brother” aside; this is about SPIT, people – the art of emceeing. Yeezy sets his bar high on track 1, getting all Wu with his slick tongue, but his vocals on “Monster” and “Gorgeous,” in particular, prove how far he’s come lyrically. On the later, he offers; “All of them fallin’ for the love of ballin’ / got caught with 30 rocks, the cop looked like Alec Baldwin / inter century anthems based off inner city tantrums based off the way we was branded / face it, Jerome get more time than Brandon and at the airport they check all through my bag and tell me that it’s random.” Yessur.
When verses by Jay-Z and Raekwon become, dare I say, afterthoughts, it’s plain as day that ‘Ye has arrived as a rapper. Best rapper alive? Possibly never, but one thing is for god damn sure – when the MPCs crash and the phoenix finally flames out, Kanye West will go down as one of the great MUSICIANS of our time. Now how many in your top five can claim that?
- Jeff Artist