I returned to Groovin’ High, the place we first copped College Dropout before anyone knew who Kanye West was to get My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy…now that everyone knows who Kanye West is since he’s a bona-fide Chicago icon and all. Love him or hate him, Kanye West will be here for awhile, so get used to it already!

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy opens with Nicki Minaj reading an old timey sounding poem introducing Track 1, Dark Fantasy:

You might think you’ve picked a scene,
but you haven’t. The real ones far to mean
The watered down one, the one you know
Was made up centuries ago
It made it sound all whack and corny
Yes, it’s all full blasted boring
Twisted fiction
Sick addiction
Well gather ‘round children
Zip it listen!

From that intimate introduction, Kanye’s arsenal is on full display. The quotable moments seem unquantifiable, because Kanye is quite honestly his unique golden self from front to back of this new joint. Firmly established as both gifted producer and transcendental emcee, Kanye has cemented his legacy in not only the hip hop world, but in the pop culture world, the political world, the Chicago world and the music world as a whole.

You know when an album is so good that you just keep listening to it on repeat over and over and over until eventually you just get sick of it and put it into that endless rotation of records? This is currently happening with this new Kanye. I can’t listen to anything else. Even while importing a bunch of new stuff into my itunes, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is steady on repeat. I fear I’m going to end up getting sick of it from listening to it too much, but it’s good enough to stand the test of time. Timeless record here, my friends.

Jay-Z has memorable verses throughout, including my favorite track with Minaj, Rick Ross and Bon Iver: Monster. Kid Cudi joins Kanye for Gorgeous. John Legend sings the chorus on the powerful, 808s and Heartbreak worthy Blame Game, with Chris Rock coming out of nowhere with a hilariously tragic dialogue including Kanye’s ex. My friend (the same friend who put us on Kanye before anyone could have predicted his superstardom) and I tried to think of another rapper who has used the phrase “douche bag” to no aviail, but where others fail, Kanye succeeds on Runaway. Super pleasant surprise ending (!) as Gil Scott-Heron shows up on Who Will Survive in America to send this album out on a proper note: “Who will survive in America? Who will survive in America? Who will survive in America? Who will survive in…”

Review Numero Dos  By Lenny DeFranco

With the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West formally ushers a new word into his beloved English lexicon. Autoanointment, noun, is “the correct proclamation of oneself as the voice of a generation before anyone else is ready to hear it.” If your travails across the internet yield a general consensus confirming this boast, it’s because this album has made him the sole essential artist in mainstream music. West follows in the Beatles’ rarefied footsteps, wrestling the weight of a crushing celebrity into fuel for a positive creative trajectory. Like the Na’vi harnessing those pterodactyl things, it is a feat that can kill as easily as help, but once accomplished, cements an artist’s status.

There’s no guarantee that West will not drown off the deep end in future endeavors, but here his ambition works. He wisely uses his creative freedom as space in which to grow skills he’s already proven, namely his production and sparkling word craft. The album sounds as mature as the years of studio experience behind it, as evinced in the bold reliance on straight piano (“Blame Game” is a standout) and the long musical interludes (see “Devil in a New Dress” and “Runaway.”)

The actual raps that fill Fantasy are nothing we haven’t heard before, but they maintain West’s tradition of percipience masquerading as swagger. He dispatches intimacies from celebrity’s parabolic overclass like a lyrical paparazzo spy . Insecurity is as plainly confronted as braggadocio on “So Appalled,” a track that pits the excesses of stardom against the struggles on the other side of the headphones. If nothing else, Kanye seems to be able to command the best out of his guests, receiving solid contributions from Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Eeyore himself, the reliable Kid Cudi. Still, none of the other rappers besides Cudi seem as secure admitting love or fear (or, for that matter, as believable in bragging about wealth) as Kanye does. It’s no coincidence that the world’s most popular rapper is also its most honest.

This album is like a Week 10 win for an undefeated football team—his only real competition is himself at this point. Fantasy is inspired, but if Kanye continues to focus his energies in this direction, the next album, or maybe the one after that, will truly be his masterpiece. Before doing that, though, he had to make sure everyone was good and ready for it. Safe to say, we’re all ears.

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