"We Know this is a dope ass blog correct?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coldest Winter

Today, November 24th, marks the one year anniversary of 808's and Heartbreak. Below I posted the review, that me and Quis (the Broken Android) and I did last year--it's definitely my favorite album review of all the ones I've ever put together--so give that a read. Hip hop around this time of year has been especially important for me. I remember when Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor came out, around the time I started getting serious about college and rededicated myself on school work. My brother and I would drive to the Barnes and Nobles in Abington to study and we would always listen to Food and Liquor on the way to store and when we drove back home. Then Lupe and Kanye dropped album's in the same year (The Cool and Graduation) and I would usually get on the bus to school, listen to Graduation on the way there, and when it was dark on the bus ride back home I'd listen to The Cool which was a pretty dark album. 808's definitely helped me out last winter, so it's kind of weird not to have an album by either of them this winter, but I'll guess have to find a wale to deal with it...

I tried to be as critical as possible with this album, being as though its by my favorite artist, but I have found it seemingly impossible to find a single flaw in Kanye West’s follow up to last years Graduation. His last album had the perfect title for what we were in store for with 808’s & Heartbreak. Mr. West has truly evolved and, in a sense, graduated into the next platform of music.

We open up with “Say You Will”, an extended preview of what’s to come, with great usage of the 808 drums, a perfected auto-tune, with bitterly painful lyrics. “Welcome To Heartbreak” truly gives listeners an idea of what its like to have physical wealth but to be emotionally bankrupt. With lyrics like “he said his daughter got a brand new report card…and all I got was a brand new sports car”, we are able to see how much Kanye really values his personal wealth in comparison to an average person’s little victories. “Heartless”, Kanye’s second single gives us an insight on the relationship that I’m pretty sure this album was based on. I believe this is one of the only tracks on the entire album where Kanye goes back to his rapping ways and shows that him using auto-tune hasn’t had any effect on his emcee skills with rhymes like, “You got a new friend?/ Well I got homeys/ But in the end its still so lonely”. “Amazing”, which has one of only two rap features on the album showcases the reunion of Jeezy and Yeezy. Both of whom don’t disappoint at all over one of the best usage of the 808 drums on the entire album. After being remastered about a dozen times, the lead single, “Love Lockdown”, sounded absolutely flawless.

The latter half of 808’s & Heartbreak starts off strong as well with the Mr. Hudson assisted “Paranoid”. The most upbeat song of the album will make listeners want to snap their fingers while two-stepping to the beat (I sure did). “Paranoid” is assisted by a comical insight to clingy spouses renamed after everyone’s favorite 80’s cyborg cop, “Robocop”. This also contains the best usage of violins in modern music I’ve every heard behind humorous lyrics like, “Who knew she was a drama queen…that’ll turn my life to Stephen Kings’”. I will try to not oversell this as best as I can, but “Street Lights” is the greatest song of the 21st century to date. By this point in the album you would have completely forgotten that Kanye was using auto-tune and you have sunken into the lyrics and overall musical quality of the album. I say this as manly as possible, but when I first heard “Street Lights” a tear or two came out. Speaking of tears, “Bad News” which is about finding out that your significant other is cheating on you, sounds like it may have been written and recorded while Kanye was crying, or at least extremely sad.

The second rap feature reunites yet another power duo, this time with Weezy and Yeezy. While Wayne uses auto-tune as he sings on the chorus, he does his verse quite well without it on “See You In My Nightmares“. Offering his always comical comments such as “Girl we through/ you think you’re shit don’t stink but you are Mrs. P-U”. The studio portion of the album ends with the sorrowful “Coldest Winter”. This will most definitely be on people’s break-up playlist for the next decade. But the album isn’t over just yet. Ye’ offers us a live performance of the bonus track, “Pinocchio Story”, which was placed on the album at the request of Beyonce, and I can see why. In this song, Kanye offers an analogy that being a celebrity is quite similar to being the fairy tale character Pinocchio, where all you want is to be a “real boy” and “not some facade on TV that no one can really feel”.

The following excerpt is brought to you by the incomparable Ronald Metellus:

"On October 2nd 2000 Radiohead released their fourth album - Kid A, an album that divided the critics as well as fans and challenged what a number one album should sound like. Eight years later with his fourth release, Kanye West is challenging the music industry and it’s listeners in what could described as “Kid Ye”. For many 808s and Heartbreak sounds like an idea too crazy, too experimental to work and the auto-tune sounds of the first singles didn’t do much change that suspicion. But, listening to unfinished products that floated around the internet before the album’s release is like taking a picture of Van Gogh’s Starry Night with your camera phone.

Though there are a myriad of lyrically gems on album, as was the case with Kid A, the lyrics cannot be separated from the music. The 808 drums, the screams, the strings (especially prevalent on Robocop), all mesh perfectly with emotion Kanye expresses through the auto-tune sound. The album is a clear step up from Graduation’s often confused sound and reestablishes Kanye as a producer, after his J-Dilla impersonation on Common’s Finding Forever.

When TRL existed, I remember Kanye ranting about how he wanted Late Registration to be released as soon as possible and once again he has rushed the release date of his album to give the listeners a masterwork. The world fell in love with Kanye’s music because of his unique ability to always speak from his heart (“The say Kanye, you keep it too real boy” he touts on “Pinocchio Story”) and if this isn’t heartfelt, tell me what is? "-Ronald Metellus

I could find no visible or underlying flaw in 808’s & Heartbreak. It is truly an innovative masterpiece of the 21st century. It would be unfair to the other tracks to even give this album a top/bottom three. Many critized this album for the simple fact that they thought that it was “not hip-hop”. They were right. This is not Hip-Hop. Its music. Pure music. That’s what Micheal Jackson made, it’s what The Beatles made, it’s what Kanye West makes. 


Post a Comment