- Song of the Year - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap Song - "All Of The Lights"
- Best Rap Album
I feel like Kanye just emerged recently, but this is his 5th studio album to be released. Again, the components of the subjects are largely on excess and celebrity, which I think we're kind of used to hearing from him. The album though was conceived during a "self-imposed exile" to Oahu, Hawaii after fatigue and being worn down by fame and the media. This was post-T. Swift interruption, which was caused by said fatigue apparently. A quick overview of the content writeup on Wiki says this will be a pretty interesting album coming out of it all though.
"Dark Fantasy" is the first song up, featuring no one on the album, but Teyana Taylor in this performance for G.O.O.D. Music.
Album version starts off with an intro from un-credited Nicki Minaj (who, I'm sorry, I have an extreme problem with after that Grammy's performance. Eck). Otherwise, the show starts about the same way. Decadence and hedonism, bring it on - she's talking the Raold Dahl version of "Cinderella." There is a cool lyrics pointed out on wiki - "The plan was to drink until the pain was over, but what's worse - the pain or the hangover?" Damn, okay, we maybe have some wisdom going on.
"Gorgeous" brings on the first of many guests, including Kid Cudi and Raekwon. It's got a much more slowed down beat, mostly supported by this faded guitar rift on repeat. This is so unexpected and mellow. The effects on the guitar are sort of amplified onto the voice itself. There's a crazy scratchy sound to the whole thing, almost like an old-school record - a sound that's a little unnerving coming from a computer speaker. There's elements of Gene Clark & Roger McGuinn's "You Showed Me."
Here's the video released for the next track, "POWER."
"All of the Lights (Interlude)" is pretty beautiful. It's this instrumental take with violins and and piano that spirals slightly into a sad atmosphere, but without going past the line of depressing.
Here's the video, which features many more artists than Spotify credits on the track, for "All of the Lights."
There is an awesome drum line to this song, and the piano provides a sweet base that I wasn't expecting. And, cool note that makes me like it all a lot more, the vocals throughout are actually 11 different people singing parts, including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Elton John, and many more. He did it in a way, intentionally, where you can't necessarily pick them out (except for that one part I know has to be Alicia Keys), and just wanted to include these voices.
"Monster" reminded me that Kanye is a huge MJ fan and devoted a lot of his work to the immortal. Yeah, there's a little homage to "Thriller" going on. Lots of people come in for the assist on this one, including Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver. Yup, you just read that one right. No samples that I can find credited for this one; everyone brought something new to the table.
Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz, and RZA come on for the next one, "So Appalled." "You Are – I Am" by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is also sampled. I think the purpose of the song is probably self-evident. It's completely a rap-song, which makes it hard to listen to. We've been conditioned to expect a chorus we can grasp on to, but even the repeated portion here is a rap. It's just hard to wrap your head around, but provides an outlet for these rappers pretty clearly.
"Devil in a New Dress" comes off of Smokey Robinson's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and includes Rick Ross. One critic described this better than I can - "part bedroom allure, part angelic prayer." This was the only track Kanye didn't produce himself, but still sounds like him with the playing of tune, pitch, etc. It's definitely got the beat and feel to it that he seemed to be going for with sex appeal. Not that I think Kanye West when I think of hot songs. But it's a nice overall attempt at it.
We get a film for the next one, featuring Pusha T and samples of "Expo 83" (Backyard Heavies) and excerpts from "Live at Long Beach, CA 1981" (Rick James). Here's "Runaway."
Anywhos, the song itself. That base piano note that keeps hitting and moves the song along keeps up interest throughout it. Otherwise, it's a little weird of a song. We're toasting the jerks of the world? He's ripping himself apart. It's a completely masochistic song. I guess we can take this as a cathartic message for him, shedding what he use to be and used to love, in favor of a new life.
"Hell of a Life" contains samples of The Mojo Men's "She's My Baby," Yon Joe White's "Stud-Spider," and Black Sabbath's "Iron man." I know I said I'd put my pride aside and accept the autotune for this album, but I just can't. It drives me up a wall and I found myself just counting down seconds for the song to be over. I think it's actually that odd static sound in the backing that's hardest to deal with. The chorus, of course, doesn't help.
Here's a live performance of the next song, "Blame Game."
BAH AUTOTUNE. "Lost In The World" would have started out so much better to my ears without it. Bon Iver's featured in there though, so I'm going to take the time to attempt to appreciate what we've got going on. Lots was brought in for this though:
- portions of "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango
- sample of "Think (About It)" performed by Lyn Collins
- samples of "Woods" performed by Bon iver
- samples of "Comment No. 1" performed by Gil Scott-Heron.
Finally, there's "Who Will Survive In America" which samples that same Gil Scott-Heron song. It's a good wrap for the album as a whole, bringing back Kanye's opinions on what's up in this insane world. There's a preached statement at the beginning and opinions fly wild as we finish out quite an album.
Overall, a really interesting album. It's not my cup of tea for a daily listen, but it is something to experience at least once. Kanye seems to work really hard on what he puts out, and makes sure that he's saying something with every single sentence he raps. I can see why this is such a high contender for awards, and respect him for getting something together in order to be a better man.