The link? Five new songs featuring an all-star lineup of Common, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, Big Sean, Charlie Wilson, Justin Bieber, Raekwon, Jay-Z, Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and Swizz Beats. Hit up the link, give him your email, and check out these songs:
Good Friday (feat. Common, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, Big Sean & Charlie Wilson)
Devil In A New Dress
Runaway Love (Remix) (feat. Justin Bieber & Raekwon)
Monster (feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj)
It seems that ragging on Kanye West for anything other than his oversized ego and inappropriate public outbursts was off limits. Rightfully so, in my opinion. He was a producer-to-the-stars before The College Dropout, and he has gone nowhere but up since that first album came out in 2004. Unfortunately, rap’s megastar has decidedly turned his back on the genre in some misguided attempt to save pop music.
808s & Heartbreak
In all honesty, I wanted this album to blow me away. I enjoyed Kanye’s previous albums, and while I found it odd that everyone of his songs relied so heavily on sampled material, he is without a doubt mastered the skill. Just as I hadn’t really listened to a TON of Radiohead before In Rainbows, I wanted 808s & Heartbreak to make me fall in love with Kanye, to look past the asshole persona and see some genius inside.
This album has 2 (maybe 3) songs that are single material and the rest are filler. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need 12 singles to think an album is good; I wouldn’t even say that one is necessary (ie. BT’s This Binary Universe). But an album of filler does not cut it for me.
The first single Love Lockdown, which Kanye premiered live at the MTV 2008 VMAs deserves some credit for delivering on what was promised. It’s a well-intentioned crack at a minimal pop song (but the hip hop still lurks somewhere in the background). As far as the Auto Tune goes, I think it’s used appropriately here as an instrument and not as a coverup for poor vocals.
The same applies for the album’s second single Heartless. I love the breathy flute/woodwind stabs featured throughout the song. On top of that, I constantly find myself singing the chorus to this song. And I don’t really try to ever get it out of my head, it’s just catchy. Solid song (but let’s not get into the music video).
And that’s as far as the complements go. From Paranoid (featuring someone with a very average voice) on, this album was torturous for me to listen to. The formula of using Auto Tune over every vocal paired with simplistic beats constructed on a Roland TR-808 makes a couple interesting experiments, not an album. Taken as a whole, it seems that Kanye wanted to break molds, so for some reason he picked the effect that has framed T-Pain as a one-trick-pony and the drum machine that everyone in electronic music has used at one time or another to make beats. Maybe it’s me, but this combo does not scream experimental or pop in any way/shape/form.
Picking out the biggest offender, I especially loath the song RoboCop. I cannot figure this song out for the life of me. The majority of the lyrics don’t make sense, and those that do are just ridiculous. Again, let me clarify that every song in my library isn’t a deep, introspective on human emotions. But when Spank Rock raps about Backyard Betty, it’s tongue-in-cheek. If Kanye is just having fun with his lyrics and don’t mean anything by the references to Misery, the joke was lost on me. Aside from the lyrics, I also can’t stand the music to the song. The strings and glittery bells belong in a Christmas compilation album, and at some point in the song, Kanye ditches the Auto Tune. He needed to keep it on (so I flip flop about the Auto Tune… maybe he just shouldn’t sing).
In conclusion, this album will sell tons. The first two singles were carefully picked, and they are doing their job. This doesn’t really bother me, because tons of crap gets passed as quality on top 40 radio stations everyday, but I did expect more from Kanye. If you have the biggest ego in the world, you better have some quality material to back it up.
fyi: I do not have a standard rating system. I know I’ve done ratings out of 10 in the past, but I figured it would be easier to list what I have rated each song in my iTunes library.
Say You Will 2/5
Welcome to Heartbreak 4/5
Love Lockdown 4/5
Street Lights 3/5
Bad News 3/5
See You in My Nightmares 2/5
Coldest Winter 4/5
Pinocchio Story ???
ps: Would it kill Lil’ Wayne to speak in a normal tone of voice for once?
I am no fan of Kanye West. Let it be known before you dive headfirst into this intriguing column of mine. He is cocky and irreverent of any other musical artist on the scene. Remember when he ran onstage to ruin Justice and Simian’s award for “We Are Your Friends”? No? Well that was my last straw, and the video is after the jump.
So, this new video for Kanye West’s song “Stronger” has been talked about for a long time. It has a Daft Punk sample! It’s an expensive video! It’s off his new album! Directed by Hype Williams! Too bad the video amounts to some eye candy and a plot just as confusing as Justin Timerlake’s “SexyBack”… Putting Daft Punk in BOTH your song and video is quite a feat, but it won’t get you video of the year.
The video features some futuristic looking animation with Kanye being reborn by some kind of a Matrix-type machine. It looks cool, but it’s a bit literal of a translation of the song title. Like I said, Daft Punk is sweet anywhere they are placed. Kudos for that one. The sun(?)glasses are equally awsome; I wish I had some. Here is the part that frustrates me: the lack of continuity. There are some great scenes, but they don’t amount to anything. The video for “Jesus Walks” was amazing because it told a story (all three versions were powerful). I don’t feel that there is anything holding “Stronger” together.