Monday, November 24, 2008

808 & Heartbreak London Paper Review

Some may call it a 'shit sandwich', others (The Times etc) may give it a 5/5. Here's my verdict in full, as seen in the London Paper this evening:

Kanye West
808s & Heartbreak
Def Jam

It’s been a tough year for 31 year-old rapper Kanye West and boy, does it show on this, his fourth album. Deep, dark and depressing, this is a lonely, desolate West, one who is clearly struggling with the loss of his mother, the break-up with his fiancĂ©e and the increasing pressures of fame. “There is no Gucci I can buy… to get my mind out of this hell,” he emotes on the album closer, while on Welcome To Heartbreak he notes, “My friend showed me pictures of his kids/ All I could show him was pictures of my cribs.”

Yet within the doom and gloom, there are glimpses of, dare we say, genius (no doubt Kanye will if we don’t). A brave, bold album, what impresses most is West’s willingness to break the rules. Let alone the fact he barely raps on the record – he leaves that to star guests Lil Wayne and the excellent newcomer KiD CuDi - he over-populates 808s with the drum-machine of the same name and autotune, a vocal effect popularised by Roger Zapp. Yet thanks to the inventiveness and intricacy of the production on tracks like Heartless, Coldest Winter and Amazing, the 12 tracks thrill rather than bore.

Steeped in melancholic metaphors and minor chords it may be, but this could just be West’s finest moment yet.

PS: I will say this - Robocop is truly a shit sandwich.

PPS: The best review has to go to Styleslut. 'One-word: Bi-Curious' is their succinct summation.


Whathehelle Fontenelle said...

Robocop is terrible, but the rest is the best as far as I'm concerned. Life has taken a telling toll on Mr West.

The Jack of Hearts said...

I love 'Paranoid' and 'Street Lights'.

My friend and I played this album over the weekend while camping in a van on the east coast, with the waves lashing up against the cliffs at night. Was brilliant!