Turns out, Kanye West doesn’t need Twitter or early morning on-air meltdowns to get everybody’s attention — his music is doing that all by itself, thank you very much. The Chicago rapper’s fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hasn’t even officially dropped yet, and it’s already picked up an impressive pile of glowing, gold star reviews. There must be someone out there who was disappointed by Kanye’s Fantasy… but they have yet to step forward and make their case against one of the best-reviewed albums of the year (or past few years). A round-up of raves for Yeezy’s latest below:
Entertainment Weekly gives Kanye’s album an A, calling it his “most consistently compelling full-length since 2005′s Late Registration.” They state that at times, “West may be obnoxious, but at least he’s interested in confronting those aspects of his identity through his music. Few stars of comparable wattage would dare do the same.”
Vulture calls the album “adventurous, fierce, and full of vitality”, and loves the way West combines “classical refinement” with symbols of toxicity and ugliness: “Crisp, graceful sounds keep bumping up against muddy, sweaty ones. Elegant minor-key melodies keep bumping up against rawness and ego. Opulence bumps up against grit, until the music begins to sound a little decayed, tragic, and under threat.”
As a semi-related bonus, Vulture also lists the best things Kanye has done all year in order of awesomeness — they place his piano-tinkling douchebag toast “Runaway” as number one, and the Bon Iver-sampling “Lost In This World” as three. (Kanye’s fantastic G.O.O.D. Friday series is sandwiched between them.)
Rolling Stone gives Fantasy five out of five stars. “Yeezy goes for the grandeur of stadium rock, the all-devouring sonics of hip-hop, the erotic gloss of disco, and he goes for all of it, all the time. Nobody halfway sane could have made this album.”
In a review that itself earned a thumbs-up from West, HipHopDX listened to Fantasy and noted that the emotion expressed across the album “is a kaleidoscope of self-righteousness, loneliness – and something that’s been missing from the last two albums: joy.”
All Hip Hop gives the album 10/10, calling “Blame Game”, featuring John Legend, the best on the album — “a gripping tale about love lost.” Although we could have lived without the Chris Rock monologue at the end, they believe it “not only completes the song, it adds to how great the song is.”
Antiquiet, however, doesn’t think the Chris Rock bit in “Blame Game” fits, describing it as “completely disjointed from the impact of the previous movement in the song.” But as a whole, they call Kanye and his album “a rampantly evolving talent, ambitious orchestral production, unabashed grandiosity and full-throttle confidence has just upstaged & ante-upped the entire rap scene in one fell swoop.”
Spin is (oh so slightly) less adulatory than other outlets, giving the album a 9/10. They admit that, “Fantasy isn’t a flawless album. Too many songs hover around or skate past the six-minute mark. The guest list on posse cuts ‘Monster‘ and ‘So Appalled‘ could’ve been pared down. West could’ve skipped the three-minute vocoder solo on ‘Runaway’ altogether.” But still, “Fantasy‘s production is loud and proud, but also poignant and gripping, always hinting at some looming danger.”
Soul Culture says that Fantasy is as “classic” as West’s debut LP The College Dropout, and “is made up of truly epic experiences – each track being allowed room for lyrics and productions to breathe.”
Consequence Of Sound goes even further, ranking the album as “hands-down the most ambitious mainstream rap album ever made.” Though Kanye broke a cardinal rule by sounding like he’s trying to create the best hip-hop album ever, CoS says, he “somehow pulls it off, and he does it by backing up all the swagger and hype with an album that may actually be that good.”
And finally, Popeater puts is as succinctly as possible, calling the album “much more than just a milestone in his career, it’s the climax to the wildest journey of his life.”
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy drops November 22.
Do you agree with the early consensus?