Review: 4 out of 5
Best Songs: Say You Will, Welcome to Heartbreak, RoboCop, Street Lights, Coldest Winter, Pinocchio Story
Should a hip hop site actually review this non-rapping Kanye album? Why not. Who says hip hop has to be just “rap”, Kanye certainly doesn’t. On Mr. West’s foray into the world of broken beat/euro/emo music, Kanye brings a hip hop sensibility to the music that attempts to “create something never done in hip hop” (hmmm cough, cough, Andre 3000’s “Love Below”). Although, I found this album to be substantively refreshing and indicative of Kanye pushing the envelope, his singing is William Hung-esque at times. Now peep the breakdown crybabies!
1. Say You Will (Produced by Kanye West)
Even though this song is about questioning his woman’s faith, it still knocks like any other Kanye intro. The minimalist beat and abstract crooning of Yeezy set the tone for the entire album as you know you’re going to “hear some next shit”. Kanye even lets the beat knock for over 3 minutes layered with nothing but cheesy keyboard choir effects.
2. Welcome to Heartbreak featuring Kid Cudi (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Plain Pat)
Mr. West goes into mid-life crisis mode penning some of the most introspective lyrics hip hop has ever heard. Yeezy auto-tunes his way though the tolls chasing stardom has had on his personal life and how it has affected him from having a normal relationship. Also new hire Kid Cudi proves he’s a better singer than his boss.
Favorite line: “My friend shows me pictures of his kids, and all I can show him is pictures of my cribs.”
3. Heartless (Produced by Kanye West, No I.D.)
I already hate this song.
4. Amazing featuring Young Jeezy (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker)
I heard Kanye bigging up this song, but I still don’t get it. It’s cool in the sense that it sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack for those old black and white Frankenstein/monster movies, but what the hell is Jeezy doing on this?
5. Love Lockdown (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker)
If you’re like me this song is getting on your nerves by now.
6. Paranoid feat. Mr. Hudson (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Plain Pat)
I only like this song because now I get to sing to my wifey “you worry bout the wrong things, the wrong things” and not really get into trouble. This song is soooo 80’s its not even funny. I can picture the video being Kanye being chased by a robot or perhaps female robocop. Speaking of which…
7. Robocop (Produced by Kanye West)
When the leaked version of this song hit the net, Kanye came out saying it was pretty much trash and that the finished version was waaaay better. And for the first time in Kanye’s life, he didn’t overhype it (or lie). If I was a Def Jam suit I would have put Kanye in the camel clutch to make this the first single. Another superb song to sing to your girl.
Favorite line: “You spoiled little LA girl, your just an LA girl.”
8. Street Lights (Produced by Kanye West, Mr. Hudson)
This is one of those songs you listen to at 4 in the morning driving home by yourself contemplating life. Even though this is Kanye’s emo-swag to the max, you can kind of tell Mr. Hudson put him up to it or at least influenced him heavily here.
9. Bad News (Produced by Kanye West)
At this point in the album, you’re either thoroughly disappointed that there’s no raps or so depressed you’re bleeding to death from the razor wounds on your wrists. Prepared to be further dampened by storm clouds as Kanye cries about being dumped or cheated on or whatever bad news he’s talking about. You know it’s funny some people including Kanye think it’s so ground breaking that a rap artist isn’t afraid to show his vulnerable side, but this is Kanye we’re talking about. He’s shown his vulnerable side from the start, this isn’t groundbreaking in the sense it’s Jay-Z talking about being cheated on by Beyonce with YoRapper. Now that would be great news!
10. See You In My Nightmares featuring Lil Wayne (Produced by Kanye West, NO I.D.)
Some critiques detest this song but I don’t think it’s that bad. It would have done better if it had more of a rock edge considering Kanye and Wayne are both doing faux 80’s rock voices when they hit the screaming part of the vocal.
11. Coldest Winter (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, No I.D.)
This is perhaps the most abstract song one could make about the passing of their mother. However, Kanye does lay down some catchy melodies and the 808’s and synth strings create a cool futuristic feeling. Is it me or is Kanye putting on a bit of an English accent here?
12. Pinocchio Story (Produced by Kanye West)
Even though this song is a freestyle from a concert in Singapore this shit is beyond dope. Sometimes when you are in front of a crowd and you’ve mastered your art so well you can go up there and bang out a song on the spot. Even though this doesn’t fit into any traditional song format, this is a perfect way to end an album called “808’s & Heartbreak”.
If your a regular reader, you’ll know we’ve talked ad nauseum about this album. Well it’s finally here and it is pretty much everything we expected it to be -Kanye went on some gay Euro electronic shit. The only thing that wasn’t expected was that he did it, for all intents and purposes, really well. I wonder how people that can actually sing and that make this kind of Euro music feel about this album. Any kind of debate regarding where this fits into Kanye’s discography should consider this as something different altogether as if you we’re an alien you wouldn’t believe the Kanye from College Dropout and the one from 808’s are related.