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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
November 19, 2010 1:31 PM   Subscribe

"Nobody else is making music this daring and weird." Kanye West's upcoming new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, samples everyone from Bon Iver to Smokey Robinson and features guests like Elton John and La Roux. You may have already heard the album's first single "Power" (previously) or second single "Runaway" with its accompanying 35-minute short film, via his G.O.O.D. Fridays music project. Or maybe you've recently seen him rapping on a Delta flight, performing at Twitter HQ, or apologizing for some of his "most ridiculous on-air moments." Did I mention the banned album cover?
posted by Soup (165 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody else is making music this daring and weird...

I sort of picture Rolling Stone as a store in a suburban strip mall, the front of which hypes popular music and the back of which is a private plastic surgery clinic where Matt Taibbi has the "Hunter S. Thompson" model on permanent layaway.
posted by griphus at 1:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


IM SO GLAD SOMEONE POSTED THIS WE'RE ALL NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO KANYE
posted by mrstrotsky at 1:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [11 favorites]


"photo no longer exists" for the album cover
posted by andywolf at 1:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am slowly putting together a paper that lays out how Kanye's Twitter feed is synecdoche for the entire internet.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, a King Crimson sample!
posted by kenko at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sampling King Crimson: because pretentious music deserves more than one generation.
posted by Nelson at 1:39 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Once "All of the Lights" drops it's going to be HUGE. I can barely wrap my mind around that beat. Even the Fergie guest verse works somehow.
posted by naju at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


According to the hypetrak link, "every sample on the album" amounts to … fifteen songs.

Is that very many? That doesn't seem like very many.
posted by kenko at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2010


You shut your mouth, Nelson. King Crimson kicks ass.
posted by kenko at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


"Nobody else is making music this daring and weird."

o.O
posted by mrgrimm at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Woof.
posted by BoatMeme at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2010


I never understood all the hate for Kanye. He came up the old way, toiling in obscurity and then producing hit music for more famous artists, before launching his own career. He's always been a musical trendsetter too, and this new music is no exception. He says supposedly controversial things that everyone agrees with in unscripted moments. What's not to like?
posted by chrchr at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2010 [25 favorites]


What's not to like?

He apologized to George W. Bush.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2010 [18 favorites]


(It probably goes without saying that this album has leaked already. Go go google blog search.)
posted by naju at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2010


"Nobody else is making music this daring and weird."

I don't really have hate for Kanye, but seriously, this Sheffield guy needs to crack open a copy of The Wire once in a while or something.

Maybe he wouldn't be allowed to be a Rolling Stones reviewer if he were to do that, though...
posted by dubitable at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


naju: You are absolutely right. This is way better than I expected.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:46 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I haven't heard the album, but the descriptions in the review sound suspiciously close to what people were saying about Common's Electric Circus 8 years ago. Or what Cee-Lo Green or Outkast do like all the time. You look back at artists like Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Kool Keith, and it seems pretty clear that for as long as people have been making hip hop albums there have been people making daring and weird hip hop albums. Are they calling it "daring" due to the fact he's got a larger, more pop-oriented audience than most?
posted by Hoopo at 1:47 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


samples everyone from Bon Iver to Smokey Robinson...

O.o

Are they calling it "daring" due to the fact he's got a larger, more pop-oriented audience than most?

They're calling it "daring" because they need to sell copies of whatever it is they're selling.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:48 PM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


naju: You are absolutely right. This is way better than I expected.

AFAIK the final version has changed quite a bit from that link, but yeah, so good.
posted by naju at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2010


Here's the not safe for work album cover. I'm not sure Kanye West knows what a phoenix is.
posted by nanojath at 1:49 PM on November 19, 2010


Err, link on the album cover (again, it's got a cartoon naked lady thing with wings on it)
posted by nanojath at 1:50 PM on November 19, 2010


chrchr: “I never understood all the hate for Kanye. He came up the old way, toiling in obscurity and then producing hit music for more famous artists, before launching his own career. He's always been a musical trendsetter too, and this new music is no exception. He says supposedly controversial things that everyone agrees with in unscripted moments. What's not to like?”

Kanye West: “First there was Elvis, then there was Michael, now in the 21st century it's Kanye's time to rule. I have nothing but respect for Michael but someone needs to pick up where he left off and there's nobody better than me to do that. I am the new King of Pop.”
posted by koeselitz at 1:51 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Nobody else is making music this daring and weird and also getting paid handsomely for it."

FTFY
posted by jnrussell at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hoopo, nobody said he's the only daring artist. Those other groups you mention sound nothing like Kanye and not much like one another. Am I getting you wrong or are you trying to say that there's nothing special about being daring cuz people have already been daring before?
posted by chrchr at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2010


That Rolling Stone piece reads more like a press release than journalism: "...on Fantasy, he gets ridiculously maximal, blowing past all the rules of hip-hop and pop, even though, for the past half-decade, he’s been the one inventing the rules. ...it’s also a rock-star manifesto for a downsizing world."

Maybe it really is the genre defining album that changes the world of music forever, but I'm not counting on it. It will more likely be an album with some catchy songs that exploits it's fifteen minutes for everything it can. And then the new ______________ album comes out and then My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sits next to the other Kanye albums.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2010


naju: “Once "All of the Lights" drops it's going to be HUGE. I can barely wrap my mind around that beat. Even the Fergie guest verse works somehow.”

Rapping over a dubsteppy beat, though? Haven't people done that already? Guess not on anything that's hit really big. Eh.
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2010


I don't care what you think of Kanye, you can't deny that the video for "Runaway" he directed is straight up ill. It's like some aberrant synthesis of Hype Williams and Peter Greenaway.
posted by fryman at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think It's "daring" for the same reasons that Afrika Bambaataa and Kook Keith were daring. He does have that large audience, but he's not pandering to them, basically. He had all of this sort of grassroots, hipster credit, then he tackled autotune with 808 and Heartbreak (which I hated, but couldn't dismiss, so I listened to it and eventually came to understand/like a lot of).

Personally, I like Kanye because he fucks up. He doesn't make his intentions as clear as he'd like sometimes. I doubt there's anybody who's a "Kanye fan" who hasn't heard one song or another and thought "WTF is this?" I guess that those kinds of things indicate actual sincerity to me. It's a weird comparison, but he's kind of like Daniel Johnston in that way. Weird and sometimes unlistenable, but with the consistent character to allow himself to be vulnerable within a song.

Anyway, I remarked when I was trying to process 808 and Heartbreak that it seemed like he was trying out something new to him and that it seemed like practice for something else. "All of the Lights" seems like that thing.
posted by cmoj at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


There's nothing unrespectable about making music that scares 15-year-olds. I'm not 15, so I look for music that scares me, but I respect people working in the pop idiom for a mass audience who have no problem utterly fucking with their audience.

And chrchr is right. As unpolitic as Kanye might be, George Bush really did not care about black people, and Beyonce's video was vastly superior to that teenybopper's. Maybe not the best of all time, but certainly one of the best that year. He's obviously mad, but it's an entertaining madness, and he does good work, which is what I want from our pop stars.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


impolitic. I already used up my un.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2010


My favorite Kanye moment of all time.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:02 PM on November 19, 2010 [13 favorites]


It actually says nobody else is making music this daring and weird. I'd say plenty of people are making music that daring and weird or more so, even hip hop artists, and have been for many years. This is not a knock against Kanye, just the reviewer who comes off like he hasn't really been paying attention. I'll grant that Kanye is certainly ahead of the curve creatively when it comes to his big-selling contemporaries.
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2010


Kanye is a boring, overhyped wanker LOL
posted by mazola at 2:07 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OF ALL TIME
posted by kmz at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damnit, that was meant for right after Greg Nog's comment.
posted by kmz at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2010


The idea that nobody is making music as daring and weird as Kanye West is so incredibly dismissive to such a large number of genres and musicians that it's kind of staggering.
posted by Jairus at 2:13 PM on November 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


There are plenty of people who make extremely daring and weird music, including some who do so in a way that is quite popular, for instance Animal Collective. Kanye West has the particular detail of being the first crossover superstar musician who, at the end of the day, is popular because of his taste more than his traditional musical ability. There are many, many better rappers out there in terms of diction and flow, but the guy has a surprisingly refined aesthetic sense and ability to combine his mediocre vocals with amazing beats and samples and create something quite new. It's not dissimilar from a mashup, on some level, but all of the samples are there to push his personal element forward. I'm sure he won't be the last person to do this, but it strikes me as something no one else is quite doing in the same way right now. Although from what I've heard of the new album, the rawness of 808s and Heartbreak appeals to me more.

I forget where I read it, but I recall someone somewhere describing Kanye as an excellent museum exhibition curator who thinks he painted everything. This strikes me as a very accurate description of how he carries himself, but it doesn't take away from his primary talent.
posted by Schismatic at 2:13 PM on November 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


What was the banned cover? The twitpic link is broken ... was it a naked woman on all fours smelling his gloved hand?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think I have a formed enough opinion of him as an artist, or a producer or as whatever else...

But as an MC? He sucks. Maybe it's just me, but his flow sounds strained and awkward... mashing words in places, stretching them in others... contorting his lyrics to fit instead of using something that fits more naturally. If I'm wrong, please show me why. Please note that I have not listened to tons of his stuff, but every time I do hear him, this is the impression I get.
posted by utsutsu at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say that it's entirely true that nobody else is making music this daring, at least, because of the amount of money which the label is more or less obligated to put into its release and promotion - usually they only go with safe bets when so much money is at stake but Kanye is just gonna do what he's gonna do, regardless of how much is on the line.

That's what's daring about it. Some guy and three of his jagoff buddies making experimental shitcore shoegaze whatever in a repurposed slaughterhouse in Bushwick might be weirder, but daring? Watch the video for Power and ask yourself both how much it cost and then realize that they have no choice but to market it to the same schmucks who watch American Idol. That's daring beyond belief. Not only does he make exactly the music he wants to, he gets to do it with the money of a whole lot of rich white guys whose only choices are: Convince themselves he knows what he's doing and they'll recoup, or sweat bullets that they're one album away from paying up for a multimillion-dollar Metal Machine Music.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


I was driving a rental car for a business trip earlier this week and the presets on the radio were not the usual stations I listen to, but I decided to try to live like the last person who rented the car did and I listened to their stations.
Things are going fine, I am hearing some new stuff and kind of not paying much attention to it, until all of a sudden I am merging onto 91 and as I am flipping, a voice asks me "HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX WITH A PHAROAH?" and I was like uhh actually no, but I might be interested. And then the song goes on to rhyme sarcophagus with esophagus and I was suitably impressed. Needless to say that I googled it when I got home and it was Kanye's new "Monster" track (lyrics) and I am a convert.
posted by rmless at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2010 [30 favorites]


a voice asks me "HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX WITH A PHAROAH?" and I was like uhh actually no, but I might be interested.

Just so you all know, there isn't really any actual need for anyone to say anything after this sentence. It's all going to be downhill from this. We might as well let it stop here and go out on top.

I don't mean in this thread.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Nobody else is making music this daring and weird...

Oh, Kanye, don't mistake your lack of exposure to 99% of the rest of the music out there for daringness.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2010


I'm not sure what "daring" means in this context but I'll take Damon Albarn over Kanye. That said, they're both assholes, but that's not really relevant to the music.
posted by juiceCake at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2010


The album's considered daring and weird because it's COMMERCIAL POP MUSIC on a major label expected to sell a billion trillion copies. Of course Animal Collective make "weirder" music and I'm sure a lot of the ambient/drone/noise music I listen to is "weirder" still. But I love Kanye because he synthesizes his influences into amazing POP MUSIC. It's music for everyone, intended to be as commercially viable as possible, not music from your favorite indie band. That he can make commercial art that sells really well and still manage to make it fresh and exciting is what has people celebrating this new album.
posted by palidor at 2:23 PM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kanye himself said he makes "commercial art," so acting like he and his fans are just oblivious to all music except for what's pushed by huge corporations is as obnoxious and ill-informed as when people would complain that MTV didn't play their favorite underground hardcore band.
posted by palidor at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say that it's entirely true that nobody else is making music this daring, at least, because of the amount of money which the label is more or less obligated to put into its release and promotion - usually they only go with safe bets when so much money is at stake but Kanye is just gonna do what he's gonna do, regardless of how much is on the line.

Yeah, this. Imagine if Avatar 3 turned out to be a remake of Sátántangó-- it might not be a more innovative film than, say, El Topo, but it would certainly be daring.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:32 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


" Oh, Kanye, don't mistake your lack of exposure to 99% of the rest of the music out there for daringness."

Oh man, Kanye is the wrong person to accuse of being ignorant of music. Dude is crazy knowledgeable about all forms of music, and has incredibly varied tastes.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Fuck SNL and the whole cast / Tell ‘em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass / More specifically, they can kiss my asshole / I’m an asshole?"

Terrible. But if you can stomach the ego-wank lyrics, he did produce some good songs here.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:35 PM on November 19, 2010


Nobody else is making music this daring and weird...

Utter horseshit.
posted by dobbs at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh man, Kanye is the wrong person to accuse of being ignorant of music. Dude is crazy knowledgeable about all forms of music, and has incredibly varied tastes.

If this were true, he wouldn't think what he was doing was so special.
posted by dobbs at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why is it that people take music so personally? Like how many people are going to see that probably-should-have-added-the-word-"pop" Rolling Stone quote and be compelled to announce how wrong it is because you better believe that they're UNIQUE and DIFFERENT and listen to WEIRD music and nothing MAINSTREAM could ever be called "daring" or "weird." Seriously, no one cares what kind of music you listen to.
posted by palidor at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Folks, I'm pretty sure it's Rob Sheffield who said 'Nobody else is making music this daring and weird,' not Kanye himself.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


It bugs me so much because threads like these could be a place for people who appreciate the particular product to discuss their feelings about it, but instead it seems that the DEFENDERS OF LEGITIMATE MUSIC always show up to shit all over the place. Here's a shocker, guys: I like Aphex Twin, and I also like the Kanye West song that has John Legend interpolating Aphex Twin's Avril 14th, a monologue by Chris Rock, and the line "Yeezy reupholstered my pussy." SHOCKING. Get over yourselves, pleeeeaaaaaase.
posted by palidor at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DISCUSS KANYE WEST WHEN THROBBING GRISTLE EXISTS

BY LAW
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2010


I forget where I read it, but I recall someone somewhere describing Kanye as

Kanye West: 1-3 "A great curator, convinced that he's created all the art in the museum..."; 4 "...might get depressed and try to prove it."
posted by a young man in spats at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's funny that people are using Animal Collective as a metric. "My Girls" is as poppy as anything on this album. Kanye posted the "My Girls" video to his blog when that track first came out, and his fans loved it. I don't think there's as much of an indie-commercial dichotomy here, or anywhere in 2k10 music really, as people would like to think.
posted by naju at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


After first listening to MBDTF the first comparison I could think of was actually Merriweather Post Pavilion. It might not make sense to some, but I think they're both really great modern pop albums with excellent songwriting.
posted by palidor at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2010


The banned album cover in question.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DISCUSS KANYE WEST WHEN THROBBING GRISTLE EXISTS

Throbbing Gristle Ceases To Exist.
posted by mykescipark at 3:03 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also I better ease off on the Kanye posts before it becomes my "thing." My most favorited comment ever still remains this post right in the middle of imma-gate. And I can't forget this post where I thank Kanye for what he's done for pop music. So all of you staunch indie experimentalists out there can just dismiss me as a Kanye apologist if you like. But I'm also pretty excited there's a new Tim Hecker album coming out soon, so I guess I'm just lost in this pop/experimental dichotomy.
posted by palidor at 3:06 PM on November 19, 2010


Hmm, i just listened to 'All Of The Lights' a couple of times through and couldn't get past how jarring it is when the male vocals first drop. It's off key and unsure sounding. It's especially jarring as they've done so much up to that point to establish the key and meter of the tune.

Then the heavy edit that spits the 2nd vocal in... wow, that is unmeticulous. Wouldn't a small bit of fader magic have cleaned that up?

Lastly, homes should check out some brass masters to see what he could have done during that bridge. dum-DUM-dum-blah,blah,BLAH,blah does not cut it. If you can afford real horns use 'em. That shit costs real money so let's not waste it.

Lastly even lastly-er, I am not hating; as Mac Mall once said, "This is my opinion..."
posted by artof.mulata at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


It bugs me so much because threads like these could be a place for people who appreciate the particular product to discuss their feelings about it, but instead it seems that the DEFENDERS OF LEGITIMATE MUSIC always show up to shit all over the place

I don't think that's what's happening here. Most of the artists mentioned charted, some have had recent #1 hit songs. The post starts with a unqualified bold and dubious statement and contains a list of some of Kanye's highly public embarassing moments. They're fair game in this discussion, aren't they?

His major, original contribution to hip hop was the sped-up "chipmunk" vocal sample as far as I can recall. Otherwise he's incorporating the same trends into his music that many others have, it's just people are hearing it from him first and he has a bigger budget. I'm not sure why you need to take that as a knock against Kanye rather than a knock against the reviewer's hyperbole. No one's shitting all over the place.

Why is it that people take music so personally?

seriously.
posted by Hoopo at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2010


Were you listening to the YouTube posted upthread, artof.mulata? Those two jarring edits you mentioned don't appear in the album version... it sounds pretty crappy in general. I couldn't find the real version on YouTube, so you're best off finding a leak or waiting...
posted by naju at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2010


I don't think there's as much of an indie-commercial dichotomy here, or anywhere in 2k10 music really, as people would like to think.

Because the "indie" has always been commercial, just not affiliated with a certain group of labels.
posted by kenko at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2010


Maybe it was the original post's fault for including that quote first, but it's obviously just an invitation for those aforementioned defenders of music to swoop in and set things right. I don't want to get into it, but my comments were just a quick reaction and attempt to prevent the thread from falling victim to what a lot of popular music posts encounter, so that maybe the conversation could be a positive discussion of music rather than a battle to see who can be most dismissive of music they aren't into.
posted by palidor at 3:26 PM on November 19, 2010


I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure that Kanye did not sample bon iver. I believe the two collaborated on a song or two, but don't think Kanye sampled him.

Or maybe I'm wrong.
posted by broadway bill at 3:49 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't give a rip if Kanye's an egomaniac. He had me in the palm of his hand the minute he namechecked GEICO and Emmett Till in the same song (lyrics here)... which he recorded with his jaw wired shut.
posted by palomar at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


.

in memory of great musical artistry
posted by Vibrissae at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2010


yo naju, i did catch it ("All Of The Lights") from the youtube edit... i'll wait until i hear the real before deciding to write it off or put it in the permanent rotation section.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2010


I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure that Kanye did not sample bon iver. I believe the two collaborated on a song or two, but don't think Kanye sampled him.

Kanye had Bon Iver re-record the chorus from "Woods", but I would still consider it a sample.
posted by Think_Long at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2010


Talking about "Lost in the World", Vernon said, "We were just eating breakfast and listening to it and Kanye's like, 'Fuck, this is going to be the festival closer.' I was like, 'Yeah, cool.' It kind of freaked me out." Along with West, Vernon met and worked with Nicki Minaj, John Legend, and Rick Ross while in Hawaii. He said, "I was literally in the back room rolling a spliff with Rick Ross talking about what to do on the next part of a song. It was astonishing."

From here.
posted by palidor at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2010


so that maybe the conversation could be a positive discussion of music rather than a battle to see who can be most dismissive of music they aren't into.

I'm not sure what the big deal is. People are expressing their opinions. Everybody has them. Always will. Especially here. Especially about music.

The man is talented and brilliant, but so are a lot of people who don't get a fraction of his exposure. There's no savior of pop music who's going to come along, no matter how much Rolling Stone wants it to be.
posted by blucevalo at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2010


To go back to the Animal Collective comparison, I think what has me loving MBDTF so much, at least compared to his earlier albums, is that it's harmonically rich (if that's even the right way to put it). As with MPP, when I come back to some of the tracks that aren't all-out bangers like My Girls or All of the Lights, there's depth to them that I really end up enjoying, even if they're not songs that end up getting stuck in my head or whatever. And there's a light touch with it, too, like he'll drop in the strings later on in the song and I'll be thinking wait, were those there before? Fuckin ridikalus
posted by palidor at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2010


blucevalo, sorry if I maybe jumped the gun or something. I just like positive conversation about music itself, not all of the issues surrounding celebrity and hype and legitimacy. Maybe I'm being a comment fascist, but I'm just sick of all the negativity. Maybe the Internet has finally beat me.
posted by palidor at 4:48 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It bugs me so much because threads like these could be a place for people who appreciate the particular product to discuss their feelings about it, but instead it seems that the DEFENDERS OF LEGITIMATE MUSIC always show up to shit all over the place. I like Aphex Twin, and I also like the Kanye West song that has John Legend interpolating Aphex Twin's Avril 14th, a monologue by Chris Rock, and the line "Yeezy reupholstered my pussy." SHOCKING. Get over yourselves, pleeeeaaaaaase.

How is pointing out that he's a self-obsessed ass shitting all over the place? You think people who think his music is boring and uninspired are full of themselves and "defenders of legitimate music"? I don't even know what the fuck that means, btw.

Kanye may be one of your favorite musicians but for anyone--him or his reviewers or a mefite--to claim that NOBODY ELSE is making music this daring and weird is fucking laughable. For hell's sake he sampled King Crimson's 42 YEAR OLD ALBUM, which was more daring and weird than anything he's ever done 42 YEARS AGO!

Someone can like Kanye's music and also like Yellow Swans, Gang Gang Dance, Grouper, These New Puritans, Group Inerane, Moondog, Circle, Kammerflimmer Kollecktief, Les Momies De Palerme, David S Ware, Ben Frost, Concern, Growing, Ornette Coleman, Tim Hecker, John Zorn, Glissandro 70, and countless other artists* who are just as or more daring/weird (in their time). The difference is that those bands and their robot fans don't talk about how great they are (incessantly!). Goddamn, did you watch the RS video? You think we should get over ourselves? Really?

*and if any one of those artists had the nerve/ignorance to talk about how they are the only ones doing what they do I'd be just as quick to tell them to shove it up their ass.
posted by dobbs at 4:54 PM on November 19, 2010


The problem isn't Kanye, per se-- the problem is Rolling Stone. It's possible that the editors actually believe that Kanye is innovative and daring and paradigm shifting and so on, though it's more likely that they want the new album to sell. But I'm no particular expert on new music, and even I know about Flying Lotus. So how are they so out of touch-- assuming that being in touch is something they actually care about? I can never get past the feeling that Rolling Stone still thinks its core audience are happening twenty-five year olds when in fact those kids, the ideal audience of their imagination, are in their sixties now. I'm 51 and I find Rolling Stone old-fashioned, clinging to its aging heroes. I wouldn't take a recommendation from Rolling Stone for what constitutes a decent cup of coffee, let alone what constitutes brilliant new music.
posted by jokeefe at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, King Crimson! Hell yes.
posted by jokeefe at 5:03 PM on November 19, 2010


dobbs, the point I suppose I'm trying to make is that we could have a thread where we discuss how we feel about the ACTUAL MUSIC, or everyone can just flip out and do what 99% of people on the Internet do anyway and make another comment filled with negativity directed at the aether for no other reason than to further our own sense of intellectual superiority. Which are you engaging in?
posted by palidor at 5:16 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was going to add to the shitstorm with a comment about Nurse With Wound also being much more experimental and eclectic than Kayne West's music, but after listening to the entire discography today, I'm no longer convinced NWW is music.
posted by clarknova at 6:19 PM on November 19, 2010


dobbs, the point I suppose I'm trying to make is that we could have a thread where we discuss how we feel about the ACTUAL MUSIC

Maybe this is getting too much into MetaTalk territory, I dunno.

I think the problem is that the post itself starts by referencing a set of sources—Rolling Stone, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and even the NY Times, which it seems many of us on this site who care about music think are actually pretty crap sources for music journalism and reviews. There are also a bunch of links at the end to random shit that distract from the music I think. It's pretty well established how big Kanye's personality is, however you feel about that, and the way this post was structured doesn't really help. And that 35 minute film is a pretty big part of this post too.

And then there was the initial quote, which is basically—especially paired with the subject—a pretty provocative thing to start out with.

All that being the case, I personally feel like a discussion of the ACTUAL MUSIC was not really in the cards for this one.
posted by dubitable at 6:24 PM on November 19, 2010


The thing is, Kanye being Kanye, I'm pretty sure a discussion of the actual music is never going to happen. Ah well, if I couldn't save the thread at least I helped kill it!
posted by palidor at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2010


I suspect that anyone who doesn't regard this record as daring hasn't heard it yet. I'm the dude who is always like "HAVE YOU HEARD OF NOZZLE CLOWN COLLEGE? THEYRE AN AMAZING BEACH ROCK NOISE ZYDECO BAND FROM ANTARCTICA" and this new Kanye album still blew my mind.

It's incredibly daring for an album that will sell millions of copies- It has a weird, 2 minute auto-tune hum along that sounds like a kazoo solo. It has strange tonal shifts. It's utterly confessional for a guy who could make way more money rapping about girls. The first song has weird Sufjan-y choral moments.

It's just a strange, daring, unique product from a genuinely idiosyncratic pop star. The fact that he's such a major super star, maybe THE superstar, is what makes it so much more engaging. Because Kanye doesn't make just hip-hop records, he makes music records. And in doing so instead of just making a great hip-hop album and pushing the form forwards, he pushes all of music forwards. This is ballsy music, but it's still a Kanye album. And his ability to push his down paradigm in unexpected directions is unparalleled. In art or literature we call this genius, but for some reason, for Kanye, we hate him.

There's that old saying- "It ain't bragging if you can do it". That's Kanye in a nut shell. The dude has an ego bigger than the galaxy, but he's constantly bringing stuff to the table no one's ever seen before.

Point being: I don't think that many people who commented here have actually heard the new album. I think it was just a good chance for a lot of folks to go HAR HAR ROLLING STONE and OH NO CONSUMER CULTURE while managing to absolutely derail the thread.
posted by GilloD at 7:04 PM on November 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Here's the full, proper version of "All of the Lights" (mashed up with video from Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void; NSFW strippers & sex)
posted by naju at 7:05 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Point being: I don't think that many people who commented here have actually heard the new album.

Well, it's not out yet. What should we talk about?

I did download it (or some compilation on mediafire that includes almost all the tracks) and listen to most of it.

Then I listened to some old Goodie Mob on YouTube. Who's making music like that?
posted by mrgrimm at 7:37 PM on November 19, 2010


It's just a strange, daring, unique product from a genuinely idiosyncratic pop star

That's all well and good, and I don't think there are any people saying that it's impossible that the album is daring. But the idea that no one else is making music this daring and weird is a statement so far off the mark that Rolling Stone really has no business writing about music if that's what they think.

When ZZ Top sampled Autechre, that was really fucking daring and weird. I'd be genuinely surprised if this album is half that bold and bizarre -- and while I hope it is, even if it were, it would still not come even close to ranking on the scale of 'most daring and weird'. Nine Inch Nails released a record with more than a few full-on modular synthesis noise solos in it, right after releasing his most straightforward rock record. And then he released an ambient/instrumental quadruple-LP for $5.

...and honestly, that doesn't even chart as far as daring and weird new music goes.
posted by Jairus at 7:50 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Woah woah woah. ZZ Top sampled Autechre??
posted by naju at 8:02 PM on November 19, 2010


Yeah, what????
posted by palidor at 8:03 PM on November 19, 2010


Yeah. And that was fifteen years ago.
posted by Jairus at 8:13 PM on November 19, 2010


Woah woah woah. ZZ Top sampled Autechre??

Now that's a derail I can sink my teeth into!

LINKAGE PLEASE!?!?
posted by dubitable at 8:28 PM on November 19, 2010


Heard Kanye's name around, never heard his music before now. Seems like a bit of a mess, to me. Too much veering between different genres, samples of all sorts of random shit, constant switching between run-of-the-mill spoken rap lyrics and cheesy emotional melodies, background female choruses, synth psyche interludes and scratchy guitar twitches. Certainly a whole bunch of ingredients there, but not necessarily a good meal to be made of them. Twenty-first Century Schizoid man, indeed.
posted by jet_manifesto at 8:29 PM on November 19, 2010


Yeah, but Kanye sampled fucking ELTON. That is some cutting edge shit right there.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2010


His major, original contribution to hip hop was the sped-up "chipmunk" vocal sample as far as I can recall.

ha! i guess you've never heard tommy boy records' smurf singles or sir nose d'void of funk

that shit is OLD school - really

and kanye? - for your king crimson sample you pick their most well known song? well played, i admit, but it's hardly the most "daring" thing you could have done

it's good, it's got a nice feel for texture, but it's not blowing my mind yet
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 PM on November 19, 2010


So I don't know about all those links up above, but the NY Mag piece really, truly gets it.
posted by naju at 9:32 PM on November 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, and it was written by Nitsuh Abebe. Damn, if he's not the most insightful writer in music journalism.
posted by naju at 9:46 PM on November 19, 2010


well, i don't know - interesting textures, as i said, certainly edgy, and i got a laugh out of the ripoff of the iron man melody, but a five star album?

nope - i give it three
posted by pyramid termite at 10:04 PM on November 19, 2010


ha! i guess you've never heard tommy boy records' smurf singles or sir nose d'void of funk

I dont know of any smurf singles on Tommy Boy, but did you just accuse me of being too cool to dance? NO TRUE FUNKATEER WOULD SOMETHING SOMETHING

Anyways, Kanye is hiphop's Oasis. He's not what he claims to be, but he's good at what he does, the press loves him, and he makes songs you'll probably do in karaoke someday whether you like it or not. Not my cup of tea. Also the Runaway beat sounds like a DJ Krush b-side circa 1995, and he ruined one of my fave beats of his on the Teriyaki Boyz' last album with an irritating hook (he sampled Cynthy Ruth, and it coulda been so good).
posted by Hoopo at 3:07 AM on November 20, 2010


Kanye's either really full of himself or genuinely ignorant of the rest of the musical community. I can't make up my mind which it is yet.
posted by tehloki at 6:12 AM on November 20, 2010


But as an MC? He sucks.

Oh man. "Sure, great web app, but does it scale?" Everyone falls back to "flow" when the subject of a hip-hop artist they don't like comes up. It's this weird appeal to authority, like the poster was hanging out with Kool Herc back in the day, except flow is just as subjective as anything else. Either you like him or you don't, it's fine either way, but please drop the white lab coat.

For me, Kanye's been something of a disappointment because that first album (and bits of the second) was so good. And not just good, but self-aware and enlightened in a way that I was excited to see for someone hitting the mainstream: it spoke to self-aggrandizement among black men, the destructive affects of trying to copy the rich on TV and even had a track about Jesus which, like it or not, was a little bit different from what was on MTV at the time.

That said, forming the post around an unsurprisingly ridiculous Rob Sheffield gush* has made this more divisive than it needed to be. Given he came up making beats for pop hip-hop artists, at no point has Kanye ever been "daring and weird". That's the same kind of over-the-top fellatio Timbaland got for using raga and other South Asian sounds (I have no idea what I'm talking about) in the '90s.

And even though I should know better and it won't help the divisiveness of the discussion: Animal Collective? Seriously, that's your edgy and experimental? I'll take the music designed to move my ass** rather than the fey, cloying, pointless— yet just as cynical as any Hannah Montana product— attempt to fit an image of visionary dirty hippie.

* Are you tested in hyperbole before you land a job at Rolling Stone or are they willing to train you? Maybe you do a 2 month retreat with Peter Travers just watching movies on basic cable. "Yeah, that wasn't bad." "WASN'T BAD? Sweetheart, Legally Blonde 2 was a watershed moment in American comedic film-making . . . "

** See last 3 grafs in boring self-link here.

posted by yerfatma at 7:05 AM on November 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


for your king crimson sample you pick their most well known song?

Because the proper approach would be to pick the most unknown song to make sure one's street cred with current 13 year-olds stayed strong. Is it possible their best known song is their most melodic/ best-sounding?
posted by yerfatma at 7:07 AM on November 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


All you need to know is that Nicki Minaj kills it on "Monster" and "All of the Lights" is going to be all over the radio (though likely radio edited for length).

I don't really see any other tracks from this album being radio-friendly...but that's a good thing, right?
posted by erstwhile at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2010


I'm not sure what it says about our popular culture that one of the most successful musicians in the world comes out with a short film he directed himself about falling in love with a naked alien phoenix lady that features a 10 minute ballet sequence and we're arguing about whether this is weird enough to qualify as legitimately weird instead of garden-variety weird for popular musicians.
posted by Copronymus at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


ripoff of the iron man melody

Is this what you mean? It predates Iron Man by a year.

for your king crimson sample you pick their most well known song?

My favorite thing about the Beastie Boys' first few albums was the complete abandon with which they sampled incredibly well-known songs. Zeppelin and Creedence and I don't even remember what else. I assumed for a while that they'd made those with a 4-track in the basement or something because lots of it was basically playing whatever song and then rapping over it. But no, they had Rick Ruben and the Dust Brothers. The preeminent producers of the time (if not now). I can't even imagine the balls it must've taken to back this horrible punk band with those tracks that barely qualify as sampling and send them out there. Especially back then.

Anyway, P-Diddy (the putz) fucked that kind of thing waaay up not long after that. I have a hard time formulating an armchair theory-of-well-known-samples, but I do know it's a difficult thing to pull off. In this case, pure hip-hop-heads and 15-year-olds won't recognize the sample at all, but anyone passingly familiar with King Crimson (required for any music cred in most places as near as I cant tell) certainly will. It's like putting a relatively obscure math joke in Futurama. It doesn't hurt if you miss it, it's a good thing to reference and use, and it encourages exploration for those who are interested. I can't tell what there is to complain about.
posted by cmoj at 10:51 AM on November 20, 2010


Is this what you mean? It predates Iron Man by a year.

that's not the same melody at all - i was referring to another song on kanye's album, hell of a life

which it seems you haven't heard

I can't tell what there is to complain about.

hype - it's clever and well played but it's not at the "nobody is making music this daring and weird" level some are claiming

now if he was to build a track out of loops from fracture, that could be daring and weird
posted by pyramid termite at 11:18 AM on November 20, 2010


which it seems you haven't heard

I guess not. Which one is it?

hype

So ignore it and try thinking about things in terms their own merits.

Though, I might agree that nobody in Kanye's position is making music this "daring and weird."
posted by cmoj at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2010


the Dust Brothers. The preeminent producers of the time (if not now)

Rick Rubin, sure, but up til Paul's Boutique, the Dust Brothers were best known for their envelope-pushing work with Tone Loc and Young MC. Paul's Boutique was really the first showcase for their more sample-crazy-gumbo stuff, and I'm pretty sure they weren't involved with License to Ill or Check Your Head. The Zeppelin sample was on License, "Rhymin and Stealin". Dust Brothers actually used prominent samples from 3 or 4 different Beatles songs on "Sounds of Science" though, which has got to count for something. I'm a bit of a Beastie Boys nerd. Sorry. Those albums rule.

That's the same kind of over-the-top fellatio Timbaland got for using raga and other South Asian sounds (I have no idea what I'm talking about) in the '90s

Hip hop has always borrowed heavily from other styles though, and Timbaland definitely left a mark on the hiphop/r'n'b charts by opening things up for hit singles that used different rhythms than what you had been hearing in the top 40 previously. I could also see a case for the Neptunes having contributed something fresh and "weird" into the pop charts. I'm just not seeing it for Kanye on this new album. He is definitely in touch with the zeitgeist, and has produced some of the best beats in recent memory (Kanye did the beat for Kweli's "Get By" FFS), but they've been largely cut from the DJ Premier/DITC mold rather than turning hip hop on its' head. "Through the Wire" spawned a million imitators, but really the impact was just this: where producers previously used to go to pains to avoid including the chipmunk vocals when they manipulated the speed of samples to fit over their drum breaks, now they were straining to get the whole high-pitched sped-up hook in there. Don't lie, you bedroom Ableton producers, you did one of those too and Kanye was much better at it than you. More recently he's jumped on the auto-tune and synth-heavy thing, but this was established and popular before 808s and Heartbreak came out. These "All The Lights" and "Power" beats don't sound to me like some brave and bold new direction, they just sound... bloated... overblown... baroque...like he needs an editor in the studio to convince him that he doesn't need to add another layer or turn that track up or whatever.
posted by Hoopo at 3:13 PM on November 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what it says about our popular culture that one of the most successful musicians in the world comes out with a short film he directed himself about falling in love with a naked alien phoenix lady that features a 10 minute ballet sequence

Sounds like the same old same old to me. Idealized exotic nekkid women put forth as some kind of an artistic statement? Self-indulgent choreography/action sequences? You've just described Avatar.
posted by jokeefe at 3:35 PM on November 20, 2010


Is it possible their best known song is their most melodic/ best-sounding?

It's possible, but it isn't true.

It does seem like an appropriate sample to use there, so who cares, really.
posted by kenko at 5:25 PM on November 20, 2010


cmoj: pyramid termite said the song name in his post: "Hell of a Life". Link.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 5:44 PM on November 20, 2010


Holy shit, I very much like "Hell Of A Life"!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:28 PM on November 20, 2010


So ignore it and try thinking about things in terms their own merits.

i did - i even listened to the album, which is more than you seem to have done

talk about hype ...
posted by pyramid termite at 8:32 PM on November 20, 2010


"they just sound... bloated... overblown... baroque..."

It's funny because I agree completely, it sounds like he'd worked on a lot of these songs for a year and didn't know when to say "it's done," but at the same time it's just really exciting pop music to me. Break it apart and I'm sure you can point to someone that does what Kanye does but better, whether it's sampling, production, flow, lyrics, and so on. But when I listen to the music I could care less about whether it's the "right" King Crimson sample; all that matters is that it works as part of the song, and it really does. For me the triumph of the album is in the songwriting, if you want to call it that. Here's an album with basically no songs shorter than five minutes, and yet they all flow really well and are constantly engaging, at least to me. And I think my previous comment applies as well--I'm listening to it again and there are accents deeper in the mix that I'm just now noticing. Pick it apart if you want, but I haven't enjoyed any pop music this much in a long time.
posted by palidor at 8:56 PM on November 20, 2010


i cant believe how ridiculous the album is. ive been listening to it non stop for a couple days now. this is being talked about by the critics as his "Stairway to Heaven" moment. I cant say i disagree.
posted by Heliochrome85 at 9:00 PM on November 20, 2010


it's been a long time since I've been able to repeatedly listen to a hip hop album repeatedly from beginning to end. I think the last one was The Marshall Mathers LP. Which isn't to say there hasn't been good or even great albums since then, but it's just not often that one works for me as a whole, beginning to end. This one has been on repeat for the last week. And up to this point the only thing of Kanye's that I've been a huge fan of was the "Touch The Sky" Video, which is exactly what my interior fantasy life has always looked like.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:34 AM on November 21, 2010


i did - i even listened to the album, which is more than you seem to have done

talk about hype ...


I don't know what you're mad at me about. I didn't claim to have heard the album yet. We appear to be involved in different conversations.
posted by cmoj at 11:15 AM on November 21, 2010


I just listened to Hell of a Life... and seriously, that's considered brilliant pop music and great hip hop? Seriously? It's awful--a jumbled mess that's musically incoherent and the less said about the words, the better...
posted by jokeefe at 11:47 AM on November 21, 2010


And hands off the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem, too. There's sampling, and then there's just... leaching from the power of previously written music as a way to compensate for the lack of it in your own. A great sample leaves intact the mojo of its original context while adding flashes of brilliance to something already brilliant, and neither suffer by the connection. Kanye presenting himself as a lone hero surrounded by those voices just doesn't work, because the Lacrimosa is about wordless, soul destroying grief-- you can hear the sobs all through it, in the strings-- and Kanye just seems to think it's a nice vocal background for this ego.
posted by jokeefe at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2010


Watch the video for Power and ask yourself both how much it cost and then realize that they have no choice but to market it to the same schmucks who watch American Idol. That's daring beyond belief.

Oh come on. It's nothing but a pretty cliche, that video: a harem of hot chicks (with wings) surrounding a man standing as straight and stiff as the phallus he is symbolically referencing. The video for Heart Shaped Box (off the top of my head) was strange and daring in vastly greater ways than this, and In Utero sold millions. Is this where pop culture is in 2010? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills... Imma go listen to some St. Vincent to clear my palate, so to speak; Annie Clark has more wit and talent in her little finger, etcetera. What she doesn't have is a hype machine and a whole lot of subservient rock critics willing to run around in circles screaming about the Emperor's wonderful new clothes.
posted by jokeefe at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2010


It'll please you to know that a St. Vincent sample shows up on Kid Cudi's new album. And she was there to perform the song with him on Fallon a couple weeks ago. This is the same album with essentially a Weezer song as its first single in which Kanye performs a guest verse that ends with a diarrhea pun. Annie Clark is now corrupted!

I dunno, man, I don't know what compels anyone to put down and be extra critical of music they don't enjoy. I mean, I don't care for Justin Bieber, but I know he's got an audience, and I'd feel like I was being insulting if I came out trying to tell all the 10 year old girls why the Bieb is a musical failure. I mean, I either like a song or I don't. And if it's not for me I don't really feel like I have the authority to tear it apart, attempting to define objectively why other people should dislike it as well. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, of course, but I feel like trashing something openly among other people who enjoy it comes from an inherently negative impulse. Like, "you shouldn't be enjoying yourself and this is why!" I guess I just think [non-constructive] criticism is overrated (lol).
posted by palidor at 1:35 PM on November 21, 2010


Pitchfork review, a perfect 10.0.
posted by naju at 10:15 PM on November 21, 2010


From the Runaway film, Kanye's character's first spoken words:

"First rule in this world baby? Don't pay attention to anything you see in the news."

Was I the only one who first heard of Kanye through that CNN clip? Is the irony intentional here?

link goes to the specific quote, but that won't work in the inline player
posted by idiopath at 11:09 PM on November 21, 2010


I didn't know if Pitchfork would have the balls to give it a 10, but I kind of knew they'd be compelled to either way. Now if only they could write a review that describes the actual music rather than more details from the Kanye cult of personality guide.
posted by palidor at 2:19 AM on November 22, 2010


I love reading all the comments that basically say "Oh come on, I know of music waaaaaay weirder than this". Guess what? It's 2010, if there is a weird experimental band out there, they probably have a myspace page.

The era of record-store-snobs having secret knowledge and hoarding copies of out of print albums is over. Whether you like it or not, the point now is not to impress rock critics, armchair or otherwise.

What artists and their labels need is exposure. The label doesn't care if you love or hate Kanye, they just want you to talk about him. The more strongly you feel, the more comments you post, the better. It means their marketing has paid off. Your ire only fuels the hype machine

There is so much music out there, so much amazing stuff, and if you don't like what's popular, find something you do like and champion that. Increase the signal-to-noise ratio! Make a post here about whatever weirdness you do enjoy.

And seriously? I can't believe someone has actually watched Kanye's short film, which has a feathered woman on fire crashing into earth, Kanye finds her, takes her back to his house, she watches TV, he makes beats for her, then a child (or midget) runs in slow motion with a smoke grenade, and then there are fireworks at the funeral procession for Michael Jackson (the musician, not the beer critic) and huge explosions and what looks like Klansmen in red hoods, and that's in the first ten minutes....

and this is not weird enough? really? please show me what you enjoy that is odder, cause I would be into checking that out.
posted by dubold at 2:54 AM on November 22, 2010


The last two 10.0s that Pitchfork gave out to a new album (IE, not a reissue or compilation) were in 2002, for Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Trail of Dead's Source Tags & Codes.

There was also Robert Polland's Relaxation of the Asshole in 2005, but that doesn't really count (they gave it 10.0 and 0.0 because of its sheer excess, which I mean, okay, great, but that hardly counts).
posted by JimBennett at 7:31 AM on November 22, 2010


Hi dubold,

The review in Rolling Stone with the quote people are remarking on isn't talking about a video, it's talking about the music. Which isn't weird, it's a mainstream, popular hip hop album. Not necessarily a bad one either, according to even your "armchair critics". It incorporates current popular trends in hip hop, has cameos from popular musicians, and incorporates elements form other popular musical genres/styles. This has been happening, well, forever in hip hop and certainly isn't getting into territory that hasn't been recently traveled by the Gorillaz or Handsome Boy Modelling School, just to name a couple of fairly mainstream artists focused on doing exactly that. I am absolutely lost about what putting Elton John on a pop record lends you in terms of being weird, daring, or pushing the boundaries, especially considering this is AFTER he's performed with Eminem on national TV.

It's also not daring or weird for a label to provide one of it's most proven, successful artists with a large promotional budget. Most long music videos have been pretty friggin weird. I mean, do you remember the extended video for Michael Jackson's Black or White, where he's smashing up a car and grabbing his crotch and turning into a panther and shit? Actually, tons of Michael Jackson videos would work here. Or 2Pac's California Love video? Or R. Kelly's "Trapped In the Closet" saga for that matter?

Is it not enough to say it's just a really good album if that's what you feel about it?
posted by Hoopo at 10:18 AM on November 22, 2010


It's not "just a really good album" though, not to me anyway. The Pitchfork review was awful and did not make the case for the album at all. And I can't believe we're still talking about that Rolling Stone quote (have they been the arbiters of taste for anything in decades?) But this album is phenomenal and it's doing something I've never seen in any hip-hop album to this degree. And it's not enough to just talk about the music; Kanye's dissection of his personality is a huge part of what makes it so great. With each song, Kanye is exploring a different facet of his psyche, in all its messy, conflicted, paradoxical, narcissistic, sad, self-effacing, boastful, apologetic glory. The man contains volumes, and he's putting it all out there. He has a dance song laced with drunken regret about physically abusing his girlfriend and making her call the cops, and he has Rihanna sing the chorus. The sequence of "Blame Game" / "Lost in the World" / "Who Will Survive in America?" in particular is just totally heart-wrenching and those 14 minutes contain more ideas and emotions than most other albums I've heard this year in their entirety (exception probably being the triple-disc Joanna Newsom). There are symbols and proclamations here that deserve to be explored and discussed. The ghost of Michael Jackson haunts this album in several ways, for example. I want to hear reviews talk more about the way he constantly focuses on his fame and excess and sex fantasies until they become ugly and distorted, and then puts it all in perspective with the Gil Scott-Heren sample and African drums at the very end, making the personal become political become cosmic. And then there's the music. Even seemingly straight-forward songs have little pocket-symphonies and extended digressions, pieces of ear candy tucked away. It's just top-notch, fearless, hard-hitting production from start to end, a true labor of love, delirious loss, and hope. If there's another musician doing all of this right now on such an ambitious level, I'd be thrilled to get a recommendation.
posted by naju at 10:50 AM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Pitchfork review was awful and did not make the case for the album at all.

It seems like Pitchfork fawns over mainstream, commercial hip-hop in order to counter it indie reputation and look like it "gets it." Do they even review indie hip-hop albums?

I don't understand how they can review Deerhunter and shit and not even bother with Scholarman, J-Live, etc. - but Jay-Z, Weezy, Kanye, etc. get 9.0+. Maybe mainstream rap is much better than I thought, but maybe not ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:33 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If there's another musician doing all of this right now on such an ambitious level, I'd be thrilled to get a recommendation.

As far as I can tell, what's making it "ambitious" for people in this thread is that they can't separate the music from Kanye's pop-culture celebrity status and antics. This is a context those of us that don't pay any mind to the celeb-gossip shows/websites etc can't really put it in. I can't really think of any other rappers as famous as him so "right now" isn't a criteria I can meet, either. Maybe Mos Def? The rest of the description makes it sound like Kanye just made a Nine Inch Nails album though. I'll recommend the same album I always seem to, which is getting really old now (1996!??! Time flies) and is still way ahead of anything I'm hearing these days: New Kingdom's "Paradise Don't Come Cheap." Only instead of the ghost of Michael Jackson, substitute Kurt Cobain's.

I do give Kanye points for not doing the standard hip hop sequel album that most seem to:

1-Guess Who's Back?
2-I'm Back!
3-Better than Before
4-Same as it Ever Was (produced by DJ Premier)
5-I'm Still Relevant (feat MF DOOM, produced by Madlib and zombie J-Dilla)
6-Back Again, Now With Cameos (feat Redman, Nicki Minaj, and the guy from Coldplay)
7-Better than You (produced by Kanye West)
8-Look at My Stuff, I'm So Rich (produced by the Neptunes)
9-Even Though I'm Rich, I Still Have Street Cred (feat Snoop Dog)
10-Club Song (feat Busta Rhymes and Pharell)
11-Cameo from an RnB Singer Song (feat Rihanna)
12-My Friends Are Excited to Be On My Album, Expect Solo Albums Soon (Posse Cut)
posted by Hoopo at 12:04 PM on November 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is a context those of us that don't pay any mind to the celeb-gossip shows/websites etc can't really put it in.

I don't pay attention to that stuff either. It's not necessary. This is an album about his internal demons and struggles.

The rest of the description makes it sound like Kanye just made a Nine Inch Nails album though.

Nine Inch Nails? Huh. Kinda wish I didn't attempt a description at all now.
posted by naju at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2010


hoopo: your hip-hop sequel album summary was hilarious.

in replying to my earlier comment, you said -
The review in Rolling Stone with the quote people are remarking on isn't talking about a video, it's talking about the music.


My comment was actually aimed at people who had used this thread as another chance to talk about how Kanye was overrated. I get that Rolling Stone is ostensibly talking about the music. This discussion has gone a little bit beyond that point; indeed, the OP has a lot of other links in the post besides the Rolling Stone quote.

Most long music videos have been pretty friggin weird. I mean, do you remember the extended video for Michael Jackson's Black or White, where he's smashing up a car and grabbing his crotch and turning into a panther and shit? Actually, tons of Michael Jackson videos would work here. Or 2Pac's California Love video? Or R. Kelly's "Trapped In the Closet" saga for that matter?

2Pac's California Love video is pretty much just Beyond Thunderdome though. There's not really an overarching narrative for the album - the thing that's unusual about that video is that it really doesn't have much to do with the song, which is pretty much just about California.

The R. Kelly stuff and Michael Jackson is odd though. I will give you that.

Whether or not you are aware of all the celebrity news and the hype and everything else to do with Kanye, it is a part of this discussion. I'm saying, so you don't like Kanye, well, tell me something else that you do like, rather than just say NOT AS GOOD AS GRANDMASTER FLASH or whatever.

I'll check out New Kingdom, thanks for mentioning it.
posted by dubold at 1:31 PM on November 22, 2010


New Kingdom's "Paradise Don't Come Cheap."

Awesome album, and a name that I'm always surprised to hear someone drop. Kudos, sir.

It's easily available on, say, mediafire, if you search for that sort of thing.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:42 PM on November 22, 2010


mrgrimm: “It seems like Pitchfork fawns over mainstream, commercial hip-hop in order to counter it indie reputation and look like it "gets it." Do they even review indie hip-hop albums?”

Aint that the truth. Fucking Lil Wayne, man? I mean, come on.

dubold: “and this is not weird enough? really? please show me what you enjoy that is odder, cause I would be into checking that out.”

The problem with this thread is that people are approaching this without context. Sure, the beats are... very interesting, different, even annoyingly fresh, frankly. But that's not really a full picture of what a hip hop album is about; if interesting backing tracks were all this had, I'd say Kanye should go find somebody better to rap over them. And I really want to say that, because his style is generally pretty... bland. Sorry, bland. He's not that dynamic, he's not that astounding, really... a pretty standard rapper.

There is some surprising stuff on this new disc, though. jokeefe may find it annoying, but I think "Hell Of A Life" is really, really interesting lyrically – seriously. The parallelism he draws out between "gangbang" and "gang bang" at the end of the second verse? Brave, if nothing else. And the song is thematically interesting.

Kanye West will never be a shocking or amazing emcee, like, say, this dude. There are people who rap with an entirely unique style, shattering previous expectations, and Kanye West is not one of them. All he's ever had is a smidgen of intelligence and some interesting beats. Maybe that'll be enough here. What I do know is that I'm digging "Hell Of A Life" a bit; not the best song of the year, but more interesting than most stuff I hear. More interesting than I expected, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 2:27 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm digging "Hell Of A Life" a bit

Yeah, for me it's that buzzing synth line. That beat is hot.
posted by Hoopo at 2:38 PM on November 22, 2010


A big part of what's going on with this album is that everybody who buys rap albums is gonna buy the new Kanye. To continue to grow his audience he also has to grow musically to appeal to a broader fan base. To his credit, he seems to be up to the challenge.

Some of these songs sound kinda overblown to me, but there's a lot of interesting stuff here. I don't recall another hip hop album that uses distortion to this degree. There are a lot of interesting vocal effects too. I'm still unpacking it.
posted by chrchr at 6:23 PM on November 22, 2010


This is beautiful album.
posted by coaster at 10:25 PM on November 22, 2010


I'm digging "Hell Of A Life" a bit

I think perhaps some of the distaste for Kanye is that he represents the rise of the producer (Puffy, Timbaland, et al) over the MC, or the ascendance of beats over rhymes, sound over substance.

Sure, Hell of a Life has a fun beat, but 15 seconds in I think I heard him rhyme "porn star" with "born star" ... um, I paid for them titties. Get your own.

MBDTF Remixed.

It gets a heck of a lot better when you throw in Biggie. I was no big fan of Tupac, Biggie and the rest of the 90s, but now I'm nigh nostalgic.

She find pictures in my e-mail
I sent this girl a picture of my dick
I don't know what it is with females
But I'm not too good at that shit


Get off my lawn.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:49 AM on November 23, 2010


I know this is a bit of a late reply....

yofatma: Oh man. "Sure, great web app, but does it scale?" Everyone falls back to "flow" when the subject of a hip-hop artist they don't like comes up. It's this weird appeal to authority, like the poster was hanging out with Kool Herc back in the day, except flow is just as subjective as anything else. Either you like him or you don't, it's fine either way, but please drop the white lab coat.


You are reading quite a bit into my comment. I did not put on my white lab coat. I was stating why I don't like him. Of course such an opinion is subjective, as are most opinions. I feel like his lyrics (not the content so much, but the delivery) actively makes his tracks worse.

In the rest of my comment, you can see I was not claiming to be an authority. I get the feeling that you weren't so much responding to me, as you were to other things you've heard other people say before.
posted by utsutsu at 10:08 AM on November 23, 2010


I am pretty sure Pitchfork just gave is a 10.0 (instead of say, 9.1 or whatever) just to guarantee thousands of dollars worth of web traffic.
posted by Theta States at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


But after reading such a shitty review who's going to click anywhere else on the site? lololol

I do agree that Kanye's lyrics can detract from the music as a whole sometimes, though I think he's become better at contextualizing his lyrics. I mean, the opening lines of Runaway, there's no doubt he knows exactly how crude something like "sent this bitch a picture of my dick" sounds. But in a song where he's admitting to being a douchebag and to his relationship failures? Crude's probably the proper introduction for that guy.

Of course there are plenty of mediocre lyrics that don't work in any context; I'm not about to defend the guy as a great lyricist or anything. But he's definitely improved in various ways. And anyway, if you think Kanye's lyrics are trite and lacking in variety or complexity, try listening to Kid Cudi!
posted by palidor at 8:12 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um, hi, I'm really late to this thread but just want to say that this post is one of the reasons I actually gave this album a serious listen.

And I'm really, really glad I did. Thanks, Soup!
posted by treepour at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2010


I'm liking the album. Some of the tracks I don't care far go on for far too long, so I think I'll just skim the best off the top.
(Lost In The World, All Of The Lights, Monster and POWER, FTW)

I hope they release an instrumentals version...
posted by Theta States at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2010


Kanye's dissection of his personality is a huge part of what makes it so great. With each song, Kanye is exploring a different facet of his psyche, in all its messy, conflicted, paradoxical, narcissistic, sad, self-effacing, boastful, apologetic glory. The man contains volumes, and he's putting it all out there.

Here's what I know about Kanye West: He's supposedly a raving egotist. His mother was an English prof who died after a plastic surgery disaster. He appeared at the Grammys with the word "Mom" shaved into his hair and sang a tribute song in which he made it sound like she was scrubbing floors to raise him, and which included the line "chicken soup, can I have another bowl?". He thinks that George Bush doesn't like black people. And Beyonce made the greatest video of all time!

That's it, and it's entirely possible that some of that stuff was wrong, as I just picked it up like the floating lint of popular culture that it is. I have little to no interest in his psyche, or his minute, loving, narcissistic exploration of its twists and turns (and people used to accuse prog of being self-indulgent!). I'm not interested in the showboating, boasting, ranting, angsty performance of masculine dilemmas, and what I've been reading about this album makes Kanye sound like the rap Norman Mailer (and be just about as relevant and insightful).

(Nothing against masculine dilemmas per se, of course.)

He has a dance song laced with drunken regret about physically abusing his girlfriend and making her call the cops, and he has Rihanna sing the chorus.

And is that what passes for brilliant popular art? That's nothing but a circus act, a spectacle, and I'm tired of supposed regret that's actually celebration. But my issue is not really with the album itself, which I won't be listening to in the future anyway; it's about the circle of critics, from all across the spectrum-- Rolling Stone to Pitchfork, which pretty much encompasses the entire range of pop culture in the States-- lining up to salivate and pant over this record and to give each other high fives, when both have unaddressed issues of institutionalized sexism, and when the first song I hear on this record is the same old pussy and bitches and porn stars etcetera. It's the giant boyzone in action, all reinforcing each other and turning this album release into a hall of mirrors, where in each mirror is a giant figure of Kanye and that picture of his dick that was making the rounds a while back (oh, one more thing I know about Kanye-- what his dick looks like. Yay.)

The parallelism he draws out between "gangbang" and "gang bang" at the end of the second verse? Brave, if nothing else.

Oh hell no. Even I've heard something similar before, or perhaps I just don't find puns on gang rape to be that impressive. Kanye's sexual conflicts do not strike me as monumental or valuable in any way, but yet the critical and cultural response is monolithic-- he bestrides the musical landscape like some grotesque statue, and you can't ignore it, even when the content is risible.

So if this album actually sells, then the music industry will line up to shower it with awards and so on and so forth and it'll show up on Top Ten lists and Grammy nominations and whatever and in the meantime it's still all pussy and bitches and porn stars. It's dreary and tedious and it's the same old song, and I'd like to hear something new, personally.
posted by jokeefe at 9:08 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's dreary and tedious and it's the same old song, and I'd like to hear something new, personally.

Did you check out the new album by The Roots? mmmm mmmm good.
posted by Theta States at 9:16 PM on November 26, 2010


jokeefe: “So if this album actually sells, then the music industry will line up to shower it with awards and so on and so forth and it'll show up on Top Ten lists and Grammy nominations and whatever and in the meantime it's still all pussy and bitches and porn stars. It's dreary and tedious and it's the same old song, and I'd like to hear something new, personally.”

Yeah, I hate to say it, but after actually listening to this album, it's pretty flat. That's the trouble nowadays – yeah, I'm sure he worked on it, and it's mildly interesting, but it doesn't really hold up to repeated listenings like good hip hop should.

And you're right, that parallelism was not really that original. I think I was impressed by the audacity of the whole song at first, but now it's really just sad.
posted by koeselitz at 4:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread is still alive. Sorry jokeefe but your comment is the perfect example of what I've been complaining about. You don't like the album? Okay. Move on. What motivates you to desperately try to disparage it through some tired takedown of the media that's promoted it so far? Honestly, it all reads like bitterness to me. If you think the album and the support for it is just celebrity culture fueled masturbatory garbage, why would you even spend a single second giving it your attention? As music, if it doesn't interest you, why join a discussion about it?

I'm sorry but to me the main failing of discussion on the Internet is the ability for anyone with a few minutes' free time to anonymously release any of their built up angst and resentment to people they'll never meet. Are we so desperate for even just a tiny bit of self-satisfied intellectual superiority that we do this stuff all the time? What does this say about our culture?
posted by palidor at 10:44 PM on November 28, 2010


To make this whole interaction I'm complaining about more simple:

This music is bringing joy to people. Why are you compelled to delegitimize that?
posted by palidor at 10:50 PM on November 28, 2010


palidor: umm, because it's an open discussion?

duh.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:15 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of what Kanye West is all about is the polarizing discussion that surrounds him. It wouldn't be a proper Kanye thread if we limited it to just the people fawning over him.

And I'd agree that about half of the album doesn't really stand up, unless you are interested in Kanye as much as Kanye is interested in Kanye.
posted by Theta States at 5:55 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


As music, if it doesn't interest you, why join a discussion about it?

one reason: he or she might find it absolutely essential to explain exactly why he or she is not interested.

two reason: circle jerks are fun, but only for so long.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:39 AM on November 29, 2010


Also, congrats. Kanye has 7 of the 10 hottest songs on Last.fm this week.

At long last, he is FINALLY getting the recognition he deserves.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:41 PM on November 30, 2010


Actually, in terms of being recognized for artistic triumph, I imagine it's not that easy for a mainstream artist like Kanye. I mean, as long as dude is cynical enough that a perfect score in Rolling Stone doesn't mean much, he probably doesn't feel like he gets the recognition he deserves. That's why groups like Animal Collective have it the best--famous enough to pay the bills but not so famous that their talents are automatically questioned.
posted by palidor at 7:56 PM on November 30, 2010


But with music anyway, all that matters is what it means to the individual. Like, when I remember this time, and the media that soundtracked it, it's going to be Kanye's Fantasy, some Kid Cudi, lots of Emeralds, Parks & Recreation, and Weeds. And also this incredibly good weed. No critic can take that away from me!
posted by palidor at 8:00 PM on November 30, 2010


Wow, this thread is still alive. Sorry jokeefe but your comment is the perfect example of what I've been complaining about. You don't like the album? Okay. Move on. What motivates you to desperately try to disparage it through some tired takedown of the media that's promoted it so far? Honestly, it all reads like bitterness to me. If you think the album and the support for it is just celebrity culture fueled masturbatory garbage, why would you even spend a single second giving it your attention? As music, if it doesn't interest you, why join a discussion about it?

Because it's not much of a discussion if the thread becomes nothing but people falling over each other to go on about Kanye's supposed genius? In wouldn't be a discussion at all, just the much maligned echo chamber. If I want that, I'll go to a fan site, not a place like Mefi which is dedicated to talking about stuff across a wide spectrum of interest.

I'm sorry but to me the main failing of discussion on the Internet is the ability for anyone with a few minutes' free time to anonymously release any of their built up angst and resentment to people they'll never meet. Are we so desperate for even just a tiny bit of self-satisfied intellectual superiority that we do this stuff all the time? What does this say about our culture?

What motivates me to "desperately try to disparage it through some tired takedown of the media that's promoted it so far"? Well, for a start, it's certainly not desperation, nor is it bitterness, angst, resentment, or further desperation for a "tiny bit of self-satisfied intellectual superiority". It's simply because it's a matter of interest: this album release is a big event in popular culture, and it's not just music but a social phenomenon. Moments like this demonstrate what a society values-- it's a snapshot of cultural values, like anything to do with fashion or popularity. Why not question what it means? Why not ask what promotional forces are behind this album, why the critics are lining up to hail it as some work of unquestioned genius? Why is Kanye important at all? Who gets critical love and why? Who gets forgotten or is left unrecognized? How does reputation get made, and how is it sustained or lost? I'm interested in all those things. And at least I'm open to discussion; I'm not trying to foreclose the debate by yelling at anyone with a contrary opinion or making personal attacks on those who disagree with me.

This music is bringing joy to people. Why are you compelled to delegitimize that?

See above regarding foreclosing the debate. I'm not delegitimize anyone's joy. Listen to Kanye and joyful! Mazel tov! But things mean things. There's no simple meritocracy when it comes to something as socially encoded as popular art, no way to say "this is good" and have it imply absolutely nothing about the listener.

When it comes to Kanye's new album, the bone I want to pick is why his work is being described as innovative and groundbreaking when it clearly isn't, and even I, who to my regret know less about hip hop than I feel I should, can come up with counterexamples. I don't necessarily care about his album; I do care about why his work is being upgraded from competent to mindblowing.

But with music anyway, all that matters is what it means to the individual.

As with any cultural production, this is simply wrong. It's what matters to you, but it's not all that matters.

Like, when I remember this time, and the media that soundtracked it, it's going to be Kanye's Fantasy, some Kid Cudi, lots of Emeralds, Parks & Recreation, and Weeds. And also this incredibly good weed. No critic can take that away from me!

Nobody is trying to. A discussion about your favourite artist isn't one about you. Feel free to slag the advance track from PJ Harvey's new album if you like (I love it) or to tell me why this track (Traktor) from Wretch 23 (who I had never heard of before listening to BBC 1 the other night) is terrible when I think it kicks ass. I'm not going to be personally defensive about it. I'll listen. I might argue, but I'll listen. Music is too important to me to do otherwise.
posted by jokeefe at 3:15 PM on December 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Argh.

^^^ should read:

I'm not delegitimizing anyone's joy. Listen to Kanye and be joyful!
posted by jokeefe at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2010


Yeah, I love the album but also appreciate jokeefe's comments disagreeing with me in this thread. I'm not sure why that even needs to be said.

My main, issue, jokeefe, I guess is wondering whether you've fully explored the album. I can see how someone can just listen to "Hell of a Life" (maybe the weakest track on the album, musically and lyrically) and just assume the album is just "the same old pussy and bitches and porn stars" but I think there's a wider context of the rest of the album, and the songs before and after in the sequence, that needs to be considered. "Runaway", "Hell of a Life", "The Blame Game" is a very carefully considered sequence. In that context, "Hell of a Life" isn't just bragging about porn stars and pussy or whatever. "Runaway" is about Kanye being indiscriminate with women and treating them badly; "Hell of a Life" is examining him using women and those same women treating him from a material standpoint as well.

Tell me what I gotta do to be that guy
Said her price go down [if] she ever fuck a black guy
Or do anal, or do a gangbang
It’s kinda crazy that’s all considered the same thing
Well I guess a lotta niggas do gang bang
And if we run trains, we all in the same gang
Runaway slaves all on a chain gang


Those lyrics are about porn stars, sure, but only at surface level. They're really about race, money, class, and surviving in America, right?

Then in the next song "Blame Game", his porn star fantasies and braggadocio are revealed for the illusions that they are. He ends up developing real feelings for a woman, despite continuing to treat her as disposable. Then he's stunned to find out that she's cheating on him, and is sentenced to listen to the entire overheard bedroom conversation she's having with the man she's cheating with.

It's not an album about pussy and bitches. It's an album about "disappointment and cultural excess", to quote one reviewer. It's about one man coming to terms with the sick nature of his unrealistic, fame-driven fantasies, and exploring how they eventually catch up to him. I guess you're choosing to counter that by saying you don't care for the showboating, angsty nature of male dilemmas. I don't know how to respond to that other than saying that male dilemmas are as valid a subject for art as female dilemmas or gender-neutral dilemmas.
posted by naju at 4:04 PM on December 1, 2010


palidor: “But with music anyway, all that matters is what it means to the individual. Like, when I remember this time, and the media that soundtracked it, it's going to be Kanye's Fantasy, some Kid Cudi, lots of Emeralds, Parks & Recreation, and Weeds. And also this incredibly good weed. No critic can take that away from me!”

What a sad, horrible, terrifying world it would be if all that mattered in music was what it meant to the individual! Imagine for a moment what it would be like if nothing was shared in music, if nothing was in common, if nothing was communicated. They would be merely sounds – even the bare meaning of the words wouldn't enter into it, because there's no such thing as meaning, right? It's just how I feel!

Is music really so lonely a thing to you? Don't you feel kinship with the people making the music, with the other people listening? Isn't that almost the whole point – this fellowship of human beings, so many compounded experiences that we all share? Seriously, would it even be possible to construct a world where nobody's experience but my own matters when I listen to music?

Thankfully, that's not what kind of world we live in. Music is for sharing. It's something we all hold in our hands, in common, something we share. And yeah, that means we argue about it. Thank god for that. I'll take a few scrapes and bruises from a good vigorous conversation over the emptiness and loneliness of a world that's purely about "individual meaning" any day.
posted by koeselitz at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2010


I'm sorry if I misunderstood your intentions, jokeefe. But you have to agree that a lot of discussion about music, film, etc. online is often reduced to shallow love it / hate it arguments, the latter mostly consisting of the same dismissive attitudes that characterized the first half of this thread. And of course I'd never blindly praise something just to be on the other side of that equation, but in this case I've been defensive because there has been so little discussion and evaluation of the music itself.

Which is why I didn't take your observations about the music industry and press very seriously. I agree, there's so much to talk about when it comes to how our culture is marketed and disseminated, but I felt like in this case your bringing it up was a way to dismiss the value of the album and artist. As I tried to get at it with my following Animal Collective comparison, in circles like ours here where enough of us are knowledgeable about the way the industry works and aware that much of the innovative and truly "weird" music comes from artists without massive marketing budgets, a pop deity like Kanye is automatically met with skepticism. If it's mainstream, it's not authentic. It's all a big scam to get you to feed the machine. I'm not saying you've been dismissive in this way but I saw your comment in that light, and I apologize for jumping the gun a little bit.

Now, I hope I haven't come across as desperately trying to defend the album as perfect without any nuance in my comments. The point I'm trying to make is, we can get caught up in some back-and-forth about legitimacy, what's truly innovative, what's truly weird, and argue about labels and if this album deserves one and not another. Or we can discuss, in the manner naju's most recent comment does, the details of the music and what it succeeds and fails at. I feel like this kind of intelligent discussion about the music itself never happens. There are too many commenters swooping in and being dismissive, trying to "delegitimize joy," submitting to the whims of their black little hearts, than there are commenters who want to listen to the album and really digest it intellectually and emotionally.

I know it's an open discussion and we're all free to have our opinions, but not all opinions are equal, or equally informed. When someone who has refused to listen to the album comments dismissively because they're sick of hearing about Kanye, they're poisoning the discussion. I didn't mean to peg you as one of these people, but this really is the main problem with discussion on the Internet. People with bad attitudes and access to keyboards make it impossible for those who want to discuss something in good faith to do so.

Yeah, I'm being kind of a dick and policing the thread when I shouldn't be, but it's mostly because I love MeFi and think its standards are way above that of most Internet discussion.
posted by palidor at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2010


koeselitz, you're misunderstanding me. In that comment I'm placing the music in the context of my own memories, which can't be anything but particular to me individually. The point was to say that no matter what a particular critic might say about certain music, its value will always be personal. All of those tween girls listening to Justin Bieber while they do whatever tween girls do, that's going to be a valuable memory to them, and Bieber's music will be a part of it. So I can talk about how it's boring manufactured pop trash but when all is said and done their personal memories with that music will likely hold more meaning to them than my tossed off opinion about it will to me or anyone else.
posted by palidor at 7:54 PM on December 1, 2010


And I don't think I have to go into how great sharing music is, or how I agree with this particular Tolstoy quote I've come across twice in the last few weeks concerning art and empathy: “it is upon this capacity of man to receive another man’s expression of feeling and experience those feelings himself, that the activity of art is based”
posted by palidor at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2010


It's not an album about pussy and bitches. It's an album about "disappointment and cultural excess", to quote one reviewer. It's about one man coming to terms with the sick nature of his unrealistic, fame-driven fantasies, and exploring how they eventually catch up to him.

Okay, I'll buy that. I'll give it another listen.

I guess you're choosing to counter that by saying you don't care for the showboating, angsty nature of male dilemmas. I don't know how to respond to that other than saying that male dilemmas are as valid a subject for art as female dilemmas or gender-neutral dilemmas.

Just to clarify-- I did say that it was the angsty performance of male dilemmas in this case that bugged me-- and that I had nothing against male dilemmas as such. They're human dilemmas, after all, no?

And palidor, I understand-- anyone who spends a lot of time online has likely read one too many knee-jerk comments that condemn without giving (whatever the subject is) a fair chance, and where the commentator has more invested in being right than in actually engaging with the matter at hand. Kanye's a bit of a lightning rod that way, I think.

All of those tween girls listening to Justin Bieber while they do whatever tween girls do, that's going to be a valuable memory to them, and Bieber's music will be a part of it. So I can talk about how it's boring manufactured pop trash but when all is said and done their personal memories with that music will likely hold more meaning to them than my tossed off opinion about it will to me or anyone else.

Yes, of course-- that's why you have middle-aged women who tear up at hearing Partridge Family songs (note: this is not me, but I have been witness to it). The fluff you hear when you are young can stick with you an amazingly long time... and it goes to demonstrate just how powerful and primal music is.
posted by jokeefe at 8:40 PM on December 1, 2010


It's an album about "disappointment and cultural excess", to quote one reviewer. It's about one man coming to terms with the sick nature of his unrealistic, fame-driven fantasies, and exploring how they eventually catch up to him.

The problem I have is that every day our lives are filled with that taste of "disappointment and cultural excess", and we continually witness the fame-driven fantasies catching up to people.
In this world of reality TV and people that are famous for being famous, it's almost impossible to avoid those sentiments.
Especially since it seems that Kanye hasn't done anything with those feelings or about them. I'd feel like it was a more profound album if it ended with him starting a Fight Club or something.
posted by Theta States at 5:18 AM on December 2, 2010


I don't necessarily care about his album; I do care about why his work is being upgraded from competent to mindblowing.

Exactly. A lot of us who spend any time online are likely sensitive (and probably oversensitive) to Pepsi Blue and other forms of message board spamming.

I guess this post isn't much different than any other artist/new album-focused MeFi post (e.g. Interpol), but it feels a little dirtier when it's going to be the #1 pop record of the week (maybe year?), and the hype is so breathless ("best album of the year and greatest hip-hop album ever!!!").

The original post reads like a huge advertisement and that probably started some of us off with a bad mindset.

I mean, I know almost literally nothing about Kanye West's music. The only song I knew before this post was Gold Digger, and that's because of Beethoven's Fifth of Gold Digger or whatever it's called.

So I was looking for some context or insight into why this album is so great or important or even worthy of a MetaFilter post. I mean, Kanye West is EVERYWHERE.

My main, issue, jokeefe, I guess is wondering whether you've fully explored the album.

I've listened to a few tracks a few times and haven't really heard anything that made me want to explore more. De gustibus and all that.

I do agree that Kanye's lyrics can detract from the music as a whole sometimes ...

Kanye West Review: "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" Is A Lyrical Masterpiece!

"Yeezy re-upholstered my pussy"

'Just before Rock's cameo starts, West blurts out the name "Chloe Mitchell," which doesn't rhyme with anything and doesn't seem to have much context.'

Super Tuesday 2010

posted by mrgrimm at 9:48 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was reciting a poem by Khloe Mitchell, mrgrimm (yeah, I've never heard of her either.)
posted by naju at 10:48 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of "Yeezy reupholstered my pussy," Amber Rose gets a credit for vocals on the album. I was wondering if Blame Game is so transparent that those are her vocals in it?
posted by palidor at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2010


And just to confirm naju's comment, Khloe Mitchell has a specific writing credit for the song.
posted by palidor at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2010


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