Apparently, 'Ye is too much super-rapper-producer for just one cover.
Since releasing the spare, overprocessed robotics of 2008's 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West has done his best to singlehandedly wreck his own career, swiping the mic from Taylor Swift and ranting like Doc Brown in "Back to the Future" via his Twitter page.
And while Marvin Gaye would probably turn over in his grave if he heard Kanye crooning "Mercy, mercy me, that Murcielago," it's still refreshing to hear the much-more-organic sounds that pop up throughout My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy... the female chorus that backs the first single, "Power"... the strings and distorted cry on "So Appalled"... the simple, sinister piano plucks on "Runaway."
There are plenty of modern production mechanics at work, make no mistake. But two years ago, a track like "Runaway" would have done away with its driving beat and be Auto-Tuned to death. Instead, Kanye flexes a tenor voice that sounds just fine, with a guest verse from Clipse MC Pusha T.
Then again, he just can't help himself.
"Runaway" is pretty much over by the 5:30 mark, but then the strings kick back in, and an Auto-Tuned Kanye distorts his own humming for about three minutes. Which is not to say it's bad. Quite the opposite.
"Lost in the World" recaptures the hop-hop-mega-pop vibe of tracks like "Stronger" and "Champion"; "Monster" finds the Chicago native swapping verses with Jay-Z and Rick Ross, who make two appearances each; and John Legend joins in for a relationship gone awry in "Blame Game," which finds Kanye rapping alongside two chopped-and-screwed clones, before Chris Rock drops by in a hilarious, profane coda.
Kanye made a surprise visit to Rolling Stone magazine recently, and was captured on video embarking on an epic soliloquy about his own, well... "epicness" (did he compare himself to Raphael? Ohh, yes)... and Rolling Stone gave the album five stars, calling it Kanye's best yet. I wouldn't go quite that far.
Mostly, it's just really nice to hear Kanye West doing a little more rapping. Sure, he might say self-indulgent things like "if I ever wasn't the greatest/I must have missed it" and he might make videos where he's the Greek god in the center of a classical painting... but he is a nimble, clever rapper, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a very nice blend of who Kanye was and who he is, in both sound and substance.