FIVE YEARS AFTER THE FANTASY

Toronto, ON, Canada / SayRadio

ALBUM COVER
 

Read these two poems:

“I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
just to keep the children happy.”

“You might think you’ve peeped the scene, you haven’t.
The real one’s far too mean.
The watered down one, the one you know; was made up centuries ago.
It made it sound all whack and corny, yes it’s awful, blasted boring.
Twisted fiction, sick addiction, well gather ’round children,
zip it and listen!”


“VIOLENT. VISCERAL. VINDICTIVE.”


 

The first passage is an excerpt from British Novelist Roald Dahl’s poetic retelling of Cinderella. The second passage is spoken word reworking of the same passage by Nicki Minaj’s character at the beginning of “Dark Fantasy”, the first track on Kanye West’s fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Both foreshadow a chaotic tale that’s violent, visceral, and has a shroud of vindication.

Originally released November 22, 2010, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Met with instant critical acclaim and grabbing the coveted perfect 10 rating by Pitchfork, MBTDF is still argued as being West’s best effort, but five years later after does is it still as grandiose as once it came out.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a horrible name for the album. If anything, MBDTF represents a transparent telling of the demons that grasp at West’s back. The album deals with excess and celebrity, emotional extremes, ego, uncertainty, consumer culture, race, and the idealism of the American dream. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is not as the name implies, it’s an inconvenient reality. Best described by Pitchfork Media’s Ryan Dombal, it’s “a hedonistic exploration into a rich and famous American id.” West’s Dark Twisted Fantasy is pleasure, with the chaotic pitfalls of reality.

The album was conceived during West’s self-imposed exile in Oahu, Hawaii, after a long string of legal and public image controversies. With some liquid courage he crashed singer starlet Taylor Swifts moment at the 2009 VMAs, and he was declared by President Obama “a jackass.” The ensuing media response made him cancel all tours from his earlier album and putting his career on life support. Until GOOD Fridays. Launched in support of West’s fifth album, GOOD Fridays was a free weekly music giveaway for every Friday, there would be a new song from GOOD Music, West’s self-created label. Happening from August 20 to December 17, 2010; GOOD Fridays built a considerable amount of hype for West’s next project, added onto the make it or break it attitude of music blogs and forums.

With this hype gone five years later we can finally see how powerful this album was and its relevance to the industry by dissecting it into three objective categories: Lyrical Content, Sounds, and Production.

Lyrical Content: No one judges Kanye West on his ability in rapping, or his flow. To be honest, at times, West is average on this album, but he does have his sparks of greatness in fun punch lines and insightful rhymes. Where this album shines lyrically, are the introspective thoughts that are trickled throughout the album. I would argue that West still personifies what he preaches. The echoing of Runaway’s “Lets have a toast of douchebags” are sobering cries for help contrasted with the pride of Power. West captures the character of madman who exhibits these episodes of grandeur and “glass walls”.

Sounds: The sounds of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy are schizophrenic mash ups of West’s first four albums. Culminating to almost a greatest hit album all with new sounds, much like the lyrics, the sounds of MBDTF are sonic representation of his character creatively as an artist. Jazz, Blues, Soul, and Opera Rock are all layered at full force, not like a wall of sound, with order in the chaos. Its refreshing to listen to an album that is so different to the minimalist sounds of today, juxtaposed with MBDTF maximalist symphony.

Production: The only negative take back album today is that it’s overproduced. Its production is so perfect and clean it looses a grounded, and gritty feel for a very lightweight. The album had continued production from the RZA, of Wu Tang Clan fame, yet he left out his “gritty” style that could have added to the production.

Five years later, the album still deserves the praise it got and will be remembered for a classic album of the late 2000’s. The A.V. Club stated “Fantasy is an idiot-savant smash, an example of a musician overreaching, yet triumphing through dumb bravado and an imagination gloriously unfettered by logic. Kanye actually set out to make the album of the year when nobody listens to albums anymore”.

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