I’m sure you’ve all heard the praise heaped upon Kanye’s fifth record since its release. Pitchfork deemed it good enough to be one of 12 records that they’ve given a 10/10 upon its release. And yes, it’s amazing. It truly is. Never before has a hip hop record carried this quality of… well, of anything, really.
Production-wise, it’s perfect. Kanye has cemented himself as one of the greatest producers of this generation. Nothing seems out of place or tacked on – even the auto-tune, of which I am usually a passionate and outspoken condemner. Unlike the majority of hip hop records being released recently, Kanye hasn’t felt compelled to smother the beats and hooks in layer upon layer of overdone production. His sampling is fitting, emphasizing his wide range of musical influence, from the recurring Gil Scott-Heron sample to King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”.
But it wasn’t just Kanye who created Dark Twisted Fantasy. The smorgasbord of special guests all work perfectly in their respective songs – yes, even Drake, though, thankfully, he’s not the most prominent performer in the track. Pusha T.’s collaboration in “Runaway” is an early candidate for the best hip hop track of the decade. Even the unusual partnership between Kanye and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver works, without sounding overly like either a Bon Iver song or a typical Kanye song.
Dark Twisted Fantasy just isn’t a typical album. It’s not your run-of-the-mill, Flo Rida-style, Auto Tune-obsessed, money-hungry, commercial product of some big record producer. Dark Twisted Fantasy is a product of, well, Kanye’s own beautiful, dark, and twisted fantasy. Unlike the majority of pop records being released at the moment, the lyrical content is far too deep to be overlooked, even for a second. There’s not really any “Stronger”-esque club-pumpers, but there doesn’t need to be. Dark Twisted Fantasy brings to mind Warp Records’ compilation “Artificial Intelligence”. They are two albums, both of a style that contemporary society dictates must be danced to. And both records seem to emphasize that they’re not for dancing, but for listening. Properly. If that makes sense, I dunno, it made sense in my head.
No, I wouldn’t consider it a 10/10. It’s probably not even the best album of the year, in my own personal opinion. But yes, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is, undeniably, brilliant.