02 December 2008

Pitchfork Review

Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak
[Roc-A-Fella/Island Def Jam; 2008]

"That West's ego is a roadblock has long been a lament to me, but I think it's ultimately his strength. To twice paraphrase the wisdom of "The Daily Show", the guy is aiming to be the biggest pop star in the world-- he should feel bigger than us; too often, though, we instead ask for artists to be just like us or worse. West is endowed, however, with a sense of purpose and drive that pushes him to make records with Jon Brion, to crib from French house, to put on events rather than shows, to valorize art along with commerce at a time when major labels are circling the wagon and becoming stiflingly conservative, and to break out of his comfort zone when he wants to create a record as uncomfortable as 808s. Nobody else on a large scale is coming close to firing imaginations on this level, and if the guy wants to make a record for himself he's earned the right to do it-- even if the public ultimately prefers his big, brash summer jams more than blubbery Notwist-like bedsit indie. If you're in the former camp, don't worry: Kanye has claimed he'll have another record out by June."

- Scott Plagenhoef, December 2, 2008

I couldn't agree more with someone who gave 808s a 7.6. He's probably right. That's what the record deserves, no matter how much I love it. But he nailed the review. Nobody is 'firing imaginations on this level.' Not even the 'indie-centric' assholes who think the number of MySpace friends dictates the value of the musical 'discovery'.

Is Kanye egocentric? Of course! Why would I want my celebrities to be any different? I'm boring and self conscious enough for the both of us.

Good on ya Plagenhoef!

Click HERE to read the full review...

Worth reading....


Devan Boomen said...

your embedded quote omitted the term "large scale".

I think it's important to note that what Kanye West is doing is innovative for the arena he plays within. But, as Plagenhoef says, he does heavily borrow from "indie-centric assholes" such as the Notwist who've been employing the use of drum machines and orchestration since '03.

Don't get me wrong, though. Although Kanye is taking from the innovation of others and brining it to a mainstreamed audience, he's doing it in a very smart manner.

By transcending both underground and mainstream genres, he creates a new space for himself that allows him to be like no other: a hybrid consisting of both dominant and underground culture.

He successfully did this with Graduation last year by borrowing underground electro dance rhythms and melodies and using it as a foundation for mainstream hip hop.

In (finally) hearing this record in its entirety, I believe he's used the same formula, but in more of a reversed way:
Because it's an emotional record, mainstream hip hop takes a backseat and the use of what has been characterized as 'folktronica' becomes dominant. Regardless, Kanye still enables himself to become a hybrid of both genres, which allows his innovative persona to propel forward.


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