Huffington Post Review of 808s & Heartbreak

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One of my role models/mentors in the journalism game, URB Senior Editor Brandon Perkins, has been doin’ his thing with The Huffington Post as of late. All of his articles with them (and all of his articles in general, that I can remember anyway) are dope, and his new review of Kanye West’s album 808 & Heartbreak, is no exception. An excerpt:

Other than (Garth) Brooks–and arguably the moments when Bowie donned drag and the Beatles tried drugs — there has never been an artist at such a commercial peak to take such a drastic, “artistic” risk. West’s previous material was a parade of sing-along hits that few rappers can parallel in such a stadium-sized chorus. Others are close and others choose only to record, but Jay-Z and 50 Cent are the only active hip-hoppers besides West who can tour with such word-for-word enormity. However, after three albums of hits, the non-presidential hero of post-Jordan Chicago was dealt a tumultuous and painful few months that included the loss of his mother and the end of a long relationship. With a career track record comprised of doing exactly what he wanted to do and receiving hyperbolic pop-appraise (and making a vocal point about announcing said action and said result), Kanye did the only thing Kanye could: He made an anti-pop album.

For the rest of the review, click here.

P.S.: Shoutout to Eskay over @ NahRight for the jpeg of the special edition Kaws cover for the album, which is available if you preorder on iTunes.

  • Solid review and it made me think twice about some of my initial reactions to the album. But I’ve gotta stand by my consensus that this is a risk that doesn’t pay off. I respect Ye for taking the chance, because hey, that’s what innovators do. But too much of the album consists of half-baked ideas. Take “Coldest Winter,” for instance. It’s sparse, which isn’t necessarily the death of substance. But the material that’s there is trite. I feel like for all the creativeness Kanye’s shown over his career, he could come up with something that didn’t seem so formulaic in the way of lyrical content.

    I’m really loving “Amazing” and I can’t act like the first two singles didn’t grow on me. But the rest is underwhelming. I’m able to accept non-hip-hop albums from hip-hop personalities (i.e. The Love Below). But too much of this is lethargic and feels phoned it. We all know Kanye’s a workaholic, so I can’t imagine he actually half-assed this thing. But that’s what the finished product feels like. I can buy into the theory that this is a more brooding album because of its themes. But it still doesn’t feel like a particularly interesting set of ideas.