Run, people. Race back into the Church of Yeezy. He may have played the god card last year with Yeezus but nobody was surprised, given the kingmaking apparition of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy back in 2010. Remember this album? Pitchfork does. Nicki Minaj does (ughhh). Justin Vernon does (alright!). Rick Ross does (maybe?).
I was a high school senior in 2010-11, and this album was inescapable. I couldn’t be at a party without hearing “POWER” or “All Of The Lights.” The next year at college, I couldn’t be at a party without somebody clutching a glass of wine or a PBR and talking about how “Runaway” changed their life.
MBDTF is where Kanye West was finally able to reach a level of musical expression that was proportional to his own colossal ego. This album is a maximalist opus, 70 minutes long, unafraid to include any musical instrument, any layer of synth, any sample in any iteration (King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Bon Iver, Gil Scott-Heron, Aphex Twin), any guest star (with a double-digit number of features), any level of beauty (the gorgeous beat of “Devil In A New Dress”) and any level of grotesque (the delay on RZA’s mushy-mouthed shouts of “fuckin’ ridikkulus” on “So Appalled”). Every emotion is laid bare.
There’s too much to say about this album for a Sweet New Arrivals post alone- it covers too much ground to pick any one defining moment. It’s a perfect expression of Kanye’s spiraling relationship with the press, the American public, and his own sanity, a monster of a breakup album (no pun intended). It takes Kanye’s defining duality of narcissism and sensitivity and blows each side up to its logical extreme, where almost unlistenable braggadocio comes a verse before a shockingly honest portrayal of weakness.