Album Review
Kanye West- 808s & Heartbreak

9/10


When the dust settles over 2008's musical landscape, 808s & Heartbreaks will be one of the year's most divisive records. Some will love it for its lack of rapping and use of auto-tune, while others will hate it for the same reasons. There is no denying that this is one of Kanye's , and in fact, hip-hop's, landmark albums. Mr. West has never been one to follow the prescribed method of how to do things, and 808s completely flies in the face of hip-hop's most entrenched cliches. It shouldn't, however, be praised for simply being different, but instead, for its merits as an album apart from all the buzz surrounding it and its creator.

West's decision to ditch rapping in favor of crooning was, a brilliant move. He's not a good singer by any stretch of the imagination, but he is able to convey emotion effortlessly. It's strangely reminiscent of the voice of a generation past, Bob Dylan. Dylan lacked a good voice as classically defined, but somehow managed to land #7 on Rolling Stone's list of greatest singers while Mariah Carey languished at #79. There is more to singing that hitting the high notes. There is no better example than the brooding "Welcome To The Heartbreak", the album's thesis. West laments his materialistic lifestyle singing, "My friend showed me pictures of his kids, and all I could show him were pictures of my cribs. He said his daughter got a brand-new report card, and all I got was a brand-new sportscar."

Rather than the triumphant cocky pop that was last year's "Stronger", West expresses his emotionally vulnerable side while contemplating love lost. "Coldest Winter" explains the pain the death of his mother has caused, while "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown" are bitter breakup songs. The album still boasts plenty of triumphant pop moments, such as the flourish of synth and xylophone as Kanye sings, "OK OK, you will never stop it now" as he rages against a domineering girlfriend on "Robocop". Lil Wayne's contribution on "See You In My Nightmare" takes the track from haunting to downright scary.

The album's final track, a live recording of "Pinocchio Story", is both 808s best and worst track. It displays his overconfidence as he warbles to a crowd of fans in Singapore, and the lyrics are somewhat lacking, but its arguably the most heartfelt Kanye has ever been. "There is no Gucci I could buy...there is no Louis Vuitton I could put on...to get my heart out of this hell." he sings. West's next studio album after Graduation was supposed to be called Good A** Job. If life had gone as he planned, that's what it would be called and what we would be listening to would sound a lot more like its predecessors. That's not what happened though. Kanye lost his mom, he broke up with his fiance, he felt pain. It derailed his plans and altered his art. The result is the most moving, emotionally bare, and unpretentious record of his career.

Must download:
"Welcome To The Heartbreak"
"Heartless"
"Robocop"

5 comments:

vicm said...

Awesome record! Kanye is the man! I think it's his best since College Dropout

Marcus said...

This is the most fantastic thing I have ever read in my life!

Thomas Stuggart said...

This is one of the best Albums of our time, hands down!

Tiffany Styles said...

Ditto!

Bracken said...

Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This album really stands out from the rest of Kanye's discography, and most of the music industry for that matter. Last week, I picked up both Kanye's and The Killer's album and I found myself ignoring "Day and Age" because I kept going back to "808's and Heartbreak". The emotion that Kanye's voice gives off captured my attention and never let it go. Through his singing, Kanye West makes his lyrics believable, and his music somthing that the audience can relate to.

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