Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
When Kanye West performed for VH1 Storytellers his, already analytic, self-prophesying and auto-biographical, songs grew with an extensive stream-of-conscious flow. Arrogance shone through because Kanye had only ever been self-agrandising, he was was just going through the motions. In between segments of songs he called “I am so disappointed that I can never see me perform.” Kanye was on top of the world. Yet within months he committed celebrity-suicide. His beloved President called him a jackass and many self-respecting fans lost faith. Like the VH1 Storytellers concert, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is thoroughly self-indulgent. Kanye no longer needs a stage to lengthen ‘Robocop’ by an extra two minutes, ‘Flashing Lights’ a further three, or ‘Amazing’ an extra four. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s shortest track (minus the ‘All of the Lights Interlude’) is twenty seconds short of five minutes. Like Timberlake’s Futuresex/Lovesounds, Kanye has managed to create a record with obvious pop potential where, strangely, the average track length is between six and seven minutes. Yet this record, unlike Late Registration isn’t a pop record. It’s not an electronic record either and it isn’t really a hiphop record. This is a introspective record of his life. This is the autobiography that VH1 would have wanted. Kanye comes to terms with being his own devil, his own angel, his own heaven, and his own hell. A task that songwriters, poets and authors strive to accomplish all of the time. Yet Kanye the performer and artist comes first. His pleads for acceptance and forgiveness are layered between samples of Smokey Robinson (Devil in a New Dress), Bon Iver, Gill Scott-Heron (Lost in the World), and King Crimson (Power). He is accompanied by Jay-Z (Monster, So Appalled), Kid Cudi (Gorgeous), Rihanna and Elton John (All of the Lights). These are grandiose productions where minimal is a dirty word. Unlike the the singer songwriter who will commit thought and melancholia to song, with nothing but a guitar and reverberated voice, Kanye builds a magnificent wall of sound. No instrument or effort is spared in the attempt to make this a masterpiece. It is a shared thought amongst the elitist that the greatest works, in any field, are never the most successful. Jeff Buckley was shafted from his rightful No. 1 spot by a faceless X Factor contestant. Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ was never going to make him poet laureate. ‘Pulp Fiction’ was never going to beat ‘Forrest Gump’ for the Golden Globe. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of those rare moments where poetry will receive recognition. Albums that carry this level of expectation and demand rarely follow through. West needed this record to be honest, he needed to gain forgiveness and more importantly he needed it to be really, really good. Yet in the end he transcended those needs and created something incredible. From his greatest failures comes his greatest success. From his darkest fantasy comes his greatest beauty. And what a beautiful dark twisted fantasy that is.