I like Kanye West. Lets get that out in the open right off the bat in the spirit of full disclosure. I like everything he touches. I like his ego, his honesty, his wits and I love his new album, 808s & Heartbreak. I have enjoyed all his releases and my guess is that College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation will all work better for his musical legacy than 808s but I dig the crap out of this one.
How many hip-hop artists can just drop all the pretenses and rap from their own current experiences instead of dredging up their struggling experiences? If they do drop the phony bravado they normally spend most of their time discussing cars, women, stacks of cash and most importantly how they are #1 with a big foam finger waving in the air. This is not relegated to hip-hop artists. I am tired of crap from Coldplay to Fall Out Boy singing about strife and angst without any humanity or humility injected in it. You can be a sensitive fuck like Chris Martin all day long and still be a vacuum of emotion.
Not Mr. West. This album is about his current struggles whether they revolve around women (and not bitches, thank god), loss and the overall struggle to define what ones life is about regardless of race or riches. A few of my favorite examples –
- Welcome To The Heartbreak (Track 1) – The lyrics right at the start hit you in the chest – “my friends show me pictures of his kids and all I can show him is pictures of my cribs” and “he said his daughter got a brand new report card and all I got is a brand new sports car” and “chased the good life my whole life long, looked back on my life and my life is gone, where did I go wrong”. If these types of thoughts are not the definition of true heartbreak that we all suffer through I do not what they are.
- Love Lockdown (Track 5) – The beat on this song is enough to keep me running on all cylinders all day but the words “I’m not lovin’ you the way I want to” haunt me every moment I hear them. How many of us love our partner but do not show them that love or express that love to them as we truly wish we could? How many of us carry the guilt of not being the best possible partner to our loved ones?
- Coldest Winter (Track 11) – “Her love is all that I can see, memories made in the coldest winter, goodbye my friend, will I ever love again” Remorse?! How many hip-hop artists (or any for that matter) express true remorse at their shortcomings in a relationship and how they might have fucked up beyond repair and might have spoiled what they could have had forever.
I love every aspect of this album from the toned down production to the considerably sparse background music as it just drags you down into Mr. West’s current mood, which is not optimistic by any stretch. The lyrics are just icing on this cake and easily make this one of top 3 albums this year. Even if this is not your style of music I suggest checking it out, as good music is good music.