CD Review: Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” – Daily Oklahoman

Nice people make nice music, but it takes a real freak to create a monster. Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is the album an artist makes when he’s given up on accepted notions of public discourse and pop music, fastens alligator clips to himself and throws the switch.

“Stick around, some real feelings might surface,” West raps on “Blame Game,” a beautiful but brutal breakup song that could be his equivalent to Mike Nichols’ “Closer,” and real feelings are heard throughout “MBDTF,” floating like an oil slick on top of an ocean filled with the deepest sound in modern hip-hop.

What sets West apart is his willingness to dance on the unbalanced edge of his genre. His discovery of King Crimson was advertised with the “21st Century Schizoid Man” sample on “Power,” but then he doesn’t just borrow because the title is apropos of his current status in pop. West is appropriating from prog-rock the same way those bands quoted from classical music: West’s Vocoder solo at the end of “Runaway” serves as a canny simulation of a Robert Fripp guitar piece. But even when he’s not referencing music’s odd provinces, West is tearing down hip-hop and rebuilding it to fit his current emotional state, and nearly every track on “MBDTF” is a marvel of musical ambition and wrecked nerves.

The public relations nightmares of the past two years lurk throughout the album like malignancies, the tension building to such a degree on the Black Sabbath-biting “Hell of a Life” that he spends much of the last part just audibly catching his breath. The lyrics are self-lacerating, caustic and more profane than any of his four previous albums, but that is hardly surprising — when the president you supported calls you out in an interview, it’s been a tough year.

But there is light at the end of West’s self-constructed hellhole: when Gil-Scott Heron speaks on West’s behalf on the closing “Who Will Survive in America,” saying “All I want is a good home, and a wife, and children and some food to feed them every night,” it indicates that West’s true “Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is someplace where the brilliant monster he just built can’t destroy its creator.

George Lang

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