My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West

Damn, it feels good to be writing an album review again. Haven’t done one in awhile, so please bear with me. I took the opportunity to listen to this album in the car—which might be the best possible way to listen to any album because of the closed quarters and the lonely space—and as much as I dislike the man that is Kanye West, I can’t deny that he’s a genius. This album is mesmerizing.

I like how connected he is, and always has been, with other types of music. He collaborates for the sake of artistry and exploration and creativity, he’s willing to pen lyrics that are incredibly unconventional in the rap world, and he’s especially open to the idea of making an ass of himself. On some tracks, he sings melodies worse than a tone-deaf two-year-old; on others, he’s perfectly in tune. It’s all one big strategy, though, and whatever that strategy was, it worked.

The standout track for me is “Lost in the World,” one of those songs with so many layers of warm sound that, even when your body is drained of energy, you could still muster the strength to pump your fist. Of course, Bon Iver helps Kanye create that sound, but still. The two in combination create something special. And I absolutely loved hearing each new voice come in on “Monster,” a track that’s as visually stunning as a song can be with all of its guest stars and horrific imagery. (Nicki Minaj, damn. That’s all I’m going to say.)

“Runaway” seems like the most personal track on the album, even though it’s about “other” douchebags and assholes and whatnot. Kanye West is notoriously crazy, but I get the sense that he’s also aware of how other people perceive him, and that he’s been called names like “douchebag” and “asshole” before. This song is written with people like him in mind, and it’s weird how he can make such crude, cheap language sound almost beautiful in this kind of context.

Of course, the whole album is one big narcissistic work; if you don’t believe me, watch the full-length video. He was trying his hardest to be Michael Jackson, or at least emulate his decadent music videos. Of course, “Runaway” is nothing like what MJ accomplished with his short films, but it’s a big, sweeping, 35-minute experiment, and you have to give Kanye credit for that. As Donald Glover says, Kanye West is basically just a black nerd, and My Beautiful Dark Twister Fantasy is his nerd-gasm. It’s a good one, though.