Kanye West albums

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2010

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy –  (4.5 / 5)

            It’s interesting to look back on Kanye’s best album from the end of the decade. West is still loved in most circles, but he has certainly lost some credibility among many of his fans with his politics and personality trumping his actual musical output (haha….). Though it was his fifth full record, MBDTF was honestly the first Kayne record I liked all the way through. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that he is open and fully honest on this one. He is honest about being lost in the world, about being a monstrous personality, about being an asshole, the way few artists let alone people ever are. Kanye first and foremost puts his massive ego and sense of humor on display for the world all of the songs were self-centered, so they worked.

            Not to say that he doesn’t tackle other subjects or current politics (see the King Crimson sampling “Power” for a genius example of that) but the fact that most of this album works very well is a tribute to how honest, heartfelt music can produce the best results. It doesn’t hurt that he got the best production money could buy and best collaborators either, but that wouldn’t have meant anything without great music. The opening of “Dark Fantasy” building to the groovy throwback soul of “Gorgeous” culminating with “Power” is a killer one-two-three punch to start a record off.
           
            While I don’t think Kanye West is the best rap artist around and I do think he is overrated to some extent, he is a powerful force in mainstream hip hop. Most rap music that gets played on the radio are one hit wonders with no personality, so it is a joy to hear someone that stands out from the ordinary. In the tapestry of albums released in the 2010’s so far, this one is usually listed by critics one top of everything else. I have no real problem with that, though I would be hard pressed to find people that think “Devil In a Blue Dress”, “Blame Game”, or “Hell of a Life” are great songs. But with the powerful guest roster on “Monster” (creating a well-deserved star out of Nikki Manaj) and “So Appalled”, the stadium epic power houses “All of the Lights” and “Runaway”, and the rather historic closers “Lost in America” and “Who Will Survive In America”, it has plenty of great songs to go around. It is a well thought out and well executed album, as flawed and frustrating as its creator Kanye West. If the modern critical music society were going to pick out one album to champion above the rest, they did a good job of picking this one. But I would say that about any record in my top 100 on a given day.

Best Tracks: Monster, Power, So Appalled, Runaway

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2013

Yeezus (4 / 5)

            While not as good as his acolytes would have you believe nor as bad as its detractors would say, Yeezus is Kanye West mental breakdown album. In it he describes the way he believed he is being perceived by people and the media, and he lashes out against himself and everyone around him. In doing so he also absorbs the sounds and styles of everyone around him and stews in a crazy hip hop pot with excellent production. As he became a media fixture and spotlight artist for his time and style idol a la David Bowie, the resulting album is a mixed bag. At its best it is mind-blowingly good (“Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”, “Blood on the Leaves”) and at its worst it is pretty good. Nothing is outright horrible to his credit, and I still enjoy the 2010’s Kanye much more than 2000’s Kanye. After being made out to be the savior of music on the ambitious My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he made the record as a reaction to his fame, almost as a dare by anyone to like it. It’s a “special” record, take that how you will. Personally, I think it is great!

Best Tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Guilt Trip

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2016

Life of Pablo (2.5 / 5)

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2018

Ye (3 / 5)

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