Classic Album Review: KANYE WEST My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

kanye-west-album

It’s difficult to find an album with a bigger sound than Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Nevertheless, I find it disappointing that such grandiosity could only be achieved with a small army of producers and the sheer star power of other artists. For someone with such an egocentric persona, Kanye shares the spotlight generously with the likes of Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Rihanna. This record is undeniably a great triumph in lyricism, rapping, and production.  It is a true model of success, but to say that such success belongs to Kanye alone would be untrue. This record would not have been an instant classic without the contributions of many others.

Kanye is undoubtedly a skilled producer and rapper. Had he kept the features on “MBDTF” to a minimum it would still have been a great success. Take “Yeezus” for example. A minimalist album with Kanye at center stage. “Yeezus” may be reactionary to the maximalist ideals of “MBDTF”, but I also like to consider it as what the previous release would have been without leaning on other talent. On the other hand, Kanye’s voice is not the most pleasant voice to listen to for an entire full length record. He does well to include so many features on “MBDTF”, giving us a break from the nasal oppression. He is to be thanked for keeping his singing at a minimum on this album, a lesson he no doubt learned after the volume of criticism of “808’s and Heartbreak”.

The featured artists do a great job of contributing to the album for the most part. Each Pusha T and Kid Cudi verse adds dynamic to the rap vocals, and the clean vocals are refreshing apart from Bon Iver. Although, Justin Vernon simply does not belong on this album.  He is out of place among other things, like Chris Rock’s skit in “Blame Game”, which is simply just boring and a waste of time. The sampling work, however, is brilliant. Kanye’s integration of progressive rock band, King Crimson, into “Power” was unexpected and seamless. The only homage the album could do without is the “Iron Man”-like progression in “Hell of a Life”.

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is all about Kanye’s views of wealth, fame, and his façade. He handles the concepts well with smart, humorous, and accurate lyrics. The portrayal of his excessive persona is humbling and in good taste, but falls short of the impossible job of excusing his bravado. Relevant and interesting his philosophy may be, Kanye’s audacity inevitably ruins the possibility of anyone taking his ideas seriously. Rap may be accessible to a great many people, and it is easy to get behind “MBDTF’s” swaggering beats, but it is not the medium for deep thought. Kanye gave it his best to make this record about the consequences of fame and wealth, but he just comes across as another rapper flaunting his extravagant lifestyle. We get it Kanye, we know you have money, cars, women, and fame, are you running out of ideas?

 

Score: 8.9/10

 

Album Review by Zach Norton, January 2017

“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”:

500 Word Review: Travis Scott “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”

birds-in-the-trap

Earlier this year, innovative trap artist, Travis Scott, released his sophomore full length album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”.  Following his 2015 debut studio album, “Rodeo”, which is probably one of my favorite rap albums of all time and without a doubt a masterpiece, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” faced both high anticipation and standards before its release a few months ago.  Personally, I found the release to be significantly different from “Rodeo”, but also very good in its own way.  There were only a few moments that I was not too fond of, but whenever I came across a brief section that was sub par, it was quickly followed by amazing sections that continue to solidify Travis Scott’s greatness.  Before hearing “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, my favorite Travis Scott tracks were “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, so going into the sophomore record I was hoping to hear tracks similar to the sound and song structure heard on these songs.

As I hoped, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” featured a lot of tracks that sounded like “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, and even at some points, sounded like “90210”.  The hazy, mesmerizing trap sound that Travis is known for, and the sound that is also heard on the “Rodeo” songs previously mentioned, are also heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and in the process it helps create some phenomenal tracks.  The only problem is that every song features this sound and there is hardly any diversity in this aspect of this project.  Don’t get me wrong though, I really enjoyed “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and this specific style of Travis Scott’s songwriting, but it’s the only prominent aspect of Travis Scott’s unique song structure that is exemplified on this new album.  This is a little disappointing because the diversity of “Rodeo” made it the masterpiece that it is today.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still ridiculously impressive, but the lack of diversity makes it slightly worse than “Rodeo”.  However, the expansion of this hazy sound heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still very interesting because its essentially Travis exploring and experimenting with this hazy, eerie, reverb and auto-tune filled sound that makes “Birds” one of the best trap releases you’ll ever hear!  In fact, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” features my favorite song Travis has ever written.  “Coordinate”, the third track on the sophomore full length album, has easily become my favorite Travis Scott track, surpassing the stellar track, “Antidote”.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is definitely not a bad album, and this further development of hazy and ominous trap music is something I have really enjoyed, but a little more diversity in sound could have made this project become yet another ground breaking album by Travis Scott.

It’s impossible to deny that Travis was able to have an extremely impressive list of artists record guest vocals for this project, Whether or not you like the differences between “Birds” and “Rodeo”.  Fantastic features from artists like Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, and the Weeknd heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” make songs like “The Ends”, “Through the Late Night”, and “Goosebumps” staples for Travis’s discography.  As if this list of genre leading artists wasn’t enough, “Birds” also features legendary producer Mike Dean, who helped record the record alongside Travis.  These notable features are great additions to Travis’s sound, and I hope that an immense amount of iconic features becomes a constant for all Travis Scott albums.

In conclusion, I give Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” an 8.5/10.  Every song may sound similar to one another, but this constant sound and style in songwriting is phenomenal.  Travis’s ability to take his signature sound heard on some of the most prominent tracks on “Rodeo” and fully experimented with it for “Birds” is something I found extremely interesting.  I highly encourage everyone to listen to this and if you have already gave the project a listen, I definitely suggest that you revisit it, especially since it took me a few listens to truly appreciate this latest project from Travis Scott.  Below I’ve attached the full stream of Travis’s latest album.  According to some of his recent tweets, his third album, “AstroWorld”, is still scheduled for a 2017 release date, and once more information is released about the upcoming record, we’ll be sure to let you know!  2016 was our first year in business and it was a very successful year for us at Erik’s Album Reviews!  Due to the hard work of our staff and the constant support from our readers, we were able to see widespread viewership in 39 countries over 6 different continents!  We are extremely thankful for this success and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!  Be sure to check back in for more music reviews, content, and of course, our Albums of the Year list, which is due out very soon!