Kanye West Takes A Giant Step

Nov 24th, 2008 // 9 Comments


Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, which has inspired many a music writer to talk about things like “left turns” and Radiohead albums:



• “If West had interspersed the more mechanical tracks with some that were the exact opposite–say, simple piano interludes provided by his old collaborators John Legend or Jon Brion–he might have made a masterpiece. Instead, he’s merely given us an extremely intriguing, sporadically gripping, undeniably fearless and altogether unexpected piece of his troubled soul.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

• “This is not the album Kanye West fans likely expected, nor is it one they likely will embrace as eagerly as his previous multimillion-sellers. It also assumes that West’s fans care about his inner life, even though endless controversies have given them good reason to write him off. West plows ahead anyway. This one is for him. It remains to be seen if he goes back to making records for everybody else. For now, this is one fascinatingly perverse detour.” [Chicago Tribune]

• “West undoubtedly will find his way out of this purgatory, and fans will be happy when he returns to the wider vision he’s communicated on past projects. But as strange and even tedious as 808s and Heartbreak might strike some listeners, it’s not just a puppet show. Or rather, it is, and all the more fascinating for that.” [LA Times]

• “One of the album’s most fascinating aspects is that, no matter how deep West delves into the dark heart of his state of mind, his sharp ear for hooks cannot help but assert itself. ‘Bad News’’s funereal northern-soul two-step might be strange, but it lodges in the head. And the sheer mad fun of ‘Paranoid’’s nods to ‘Blue Monday’ and Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ is evidence that, amid the heartbreak, West is reconnecting with his mischievous side, too. A bizarre, brave and brilliant album.” [Times Of London]

• “Killing the pain by throwing himself into his work, West is promising another record soon, although it’s unclear whether it will be an Amnesiac-style companion to what is essentially his equivalent of Radiohead’s Kid A, a slate-cleaning exercise that allows for creative, and in this case personal, rebirth. It might seem harsh but let’s hope he doesn’t find too much happiness in the meantime. Loneliness is proving quite the muse.” [Guardian]

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  1. propaganda-artist

    I got it this morning. I think it’s pretty genius. Kanye West is in complete control of his career and sound. That, at least, deserves props.

  2. Skwerl

    we almost published a review on antiquiet on friday… but then realized you can’t pass judgment on this album quickly. i’m ignoring all reviews that have attempted to. maybe tomorrow we’ll commit our take to the proverbial paper.

  3. Anonymous

    You’ve got to be joking. He’s a megalomaniac of a sponge with no ideas of his own. In his mind he is Elvis and Michael Jordan and a voice of a generation – but, in reality he’s just a wannabe with a big mouth and a bigger record collection to rape.

  4. Anonymous

    @menyc: Why hello, you must be new here.

    Got it yesterday and have only heard it once, but my initial impression about matches the Chicago Sun-Times guy. We love you Kanye!! Feel better soon….

  5. Captain Wrong

    menyc might be new here, but they’re right.

  6. Anonymous

    @Captain Wrong@menyc: “Raping” his music collection? Kanye didn’t use a single sample on this album. Of course, you two probably wouldn’t know that, because you’d never listen to him.

    I don’t know Kanye personally and agree that he can come across like an idiot, but nor would I say dumb things like this. If you’re going to try and criticize someone you know absolutely nothing about; whose music you don’t listen to; you should expect to get called out for sounding like a doofus.

  7. Anonymous

    @slowburn: I think the albums is a winner, and he did use three samples: “RoboCop” has some strings from a 1990s Shakespeare film starring Gwyneth Paltro, “Bad News” features the beats from Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman” and “Coldest Winter” is a rewrite of Tears For Fears’ “Memories Fade”.

  8. Julio Allison

    From the leaked unfinished tracks, I was totally ready to shit on the record. But it actually works. I don’t even think “Love Lockdown” sucks that much anymore when heard in context.

  9. T'Challa

    I love Kanye (more than most, actually), and think this is a great career move. But it’s just too one-note to really enjoy. I mean, if you’re going to experiment, EXPERIMENT, you know? It just feels like variations on a theme to these ears.

    and his little rant at the AMAs this year just made me want to, I dunno, run up and try to take his picture in public. Then when he freaks out, I can smack some sense into him.

    “The new Beatles”? yeah, whatever dude…

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