Is Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Really A Perfect Album?
Kanye West is many things — an egomaniac, brilliant, pompous, crazy; an a**hole; a douchebag; an artist; a Grammy winner. Well, now he can add “Perfect Score On Pitchfork” to his resume. The notoriously snotty online music mag gave Kanye’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (which dropped yesterday), a perfect 10.0 when they reviewed the record this week. They haven’t given
an album a non-reissue album a perfect score since 2002, when Wilco’s Yankee Foxtrot Hotel also garnered a 10. So, is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy really a perfect album? Let’s see what the critics have to say … Pitchfork (10.0)
West’s discography contains innumerable references and allusions to Jackson … Like most everything else, Kanye may exaggerate the kinship, but it’s real. And it’s never more apparent than on Twisted Fantasy, a blast of surreal pop excess that few artists are capable of creating, or even willing to attempt … On “POWER”, Kanye raps, “My childlike creativity, purity, and honesty is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts/ Reality is catching up with me, taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody.” The lines nail another commonality between the rapper and his hero. Like Michael, Kanye’s behavior– from the poorly planned outbursts to the musical brilliance– is wide-eyed in a way that most 33 year olds have long left behind. That naivety is routinely battered on Twisted Fantasy, yet it survives, better for the wear. With his music and persona both marked by a flawed honesty, Kanye’s man-myth dichotomy is at once modern and truly classic. “I can’t be everybody’s hero and villain, savior and sinner, Christian and anti Christ!” he wrote earlier this month. That may be true, but he’s more willing than anyone else to try.
Rolling Stone (5 out of 5 stars)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his most maniacally inspired music yet, coasting on heroic levels of dementia, pimping on top of Mount Olympus. Yeezy goes for the grandeur of stadium rock, the all-devouring sonics of hip-hop, the erotic gloss of disco, and he goes for all of it, all the time. Nobody halfway sane could have made this album … Nobody else is making music this daring and weird, from the spooky space funk of “Gorgeous” to the King Crimson-biting “Power” to the paranoid staccato strings of “Monster.” … With Fantasy, he makes everybody else on the radio sound laughably meek, but he’s also throwing down a challenge to the audience. Kanye West thinks you’re a moron if you settle for artists who don’t push as hard as he does. And that means pretty much everybody.
The Independent (5 out of 5 stars)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of pop’s gaudiest, most grandiose efforts of recent years, a no-holds-barred musical extravaganza in which any notion of good taste is abandoned at the door … The jarring musical contrasts — effectively between conservatoire and lap-dance club — are so magnified they somehow surmount the point of tasteful discomfiture and break through to another level where Kanye creates his own hierarchy of aesthetic needs, the better to serve what he calls “end-of-century anthems based on inner-city tantrums”. Like Picasso, he acknowledges that the chief enemy of creativity is good taste — which is just as well, since it’s not a quality with which he seems over-burdened on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. For which we should all be thankful.
NME (9 out of 10 stars)
It’s an utterly dazzling portrait of a 21st-century schizoid man that is by turns sickeningly egocentric, contrite, wise, stupid and self-mocking. Reportedly a cool $3million in the making and with a stellar cast comprising the great and good of 2010’s musical establishment – plus Fergie from Black Eyed Peas – it’s an epically conceived song-suite, a titanic wrestling with music’s most colossal ego that effortlessly engages its hype as the most feverishly anticipated record of the year.
Chicago Sun-Times (4 stars)
Those true talents — seeing the big (usually huge) picture, hearing where all the pieces could go, honing and shaping each individual one, fitting it all together — may have never been realized with such sync and success as they are on West’s triumphant fifth album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” … Every sound … is a sample, a sonic fragment West uses to build his set pieces — be it a live person (Elton John’s piano part at the top of “All of the Lights”), an instrumental sound (more sped-up beats and some great strings) or an actual sample (Gil Scott-Heron’s outraged rant at the end of “Who Will Survive in America”). Each guest’s participation seems particularly purposeful, not just some babbling to fill in a blank left behind for whenever they make it by the studio. They’re not performances, they’re contributions, and West slots them into songs that tend to veer away from the basic verse-chorus framework, often drifting in and out of noodling but beautiful instrumental introductions and transitions.
“Fantasy” is masterfully engineered and sequenced, each song bleeding over like some long night out into the hazy morning after. … People will reach to call this a perfect album—it can’t be that. Not because art can’t be perfect, but because the point of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is imperfection. A lack of answers … By keeping us so close to the flesh, we lose sight of how famous Kanye West is, how bratty he can be, how far he can fall. But not how great he can be. He can’t get much higher.
Have you heard Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy yet? Are you as impressed by it as the critics are? Are you able to separate Kanye the sometimes obnoxious, egotistical man from Kanye the artist? Let us know in the comments!