cd review: kanye west's 808s and heartbreak

there are only a few artists that get my money without a thought. no need to hear a single, see an interview, hear what inspired the music. among them: India.arie, eric Roberson, jay-z, and kanye west.

I bought kanye’s first one because everybody had been talking about him. my brother told me a year before college dropout released about a producer turned rapper rhyming with his jaw wired shut. so I purchased the cd and it did not disappoint. in fact that cd still gets some listens from me.

‘ye’s second release, late registration had me curious. his first two singles “touch the sky” and “heard ‘em say” weren’t soundscan bangers, but when I heard he was working with Fiona apple’s producer jon brion, I purchased the album just to see what these two creative minds would come up with. late registration also did not disappoint. it had texture. it felt experimental and I loved the orchestration.

graduation came out right on time. I can’t count how many Friday and Monday mornings I bumped ‘ye on my way to the office of my corporate job. graduation was celebratory and arrogant in all the right places. felt like ‘ye at his best…excluding “drunk and hot girls” of course. :O

now winter is on the way and I must admit I’m jonesin for a good new cd. looks like jay’s not gonna drop til next year and dre 3 stacks is content hopping on other people’s songs, so that left me with kanye and beyonce (who I’ll comment on later) to carry me through the end of ’09. I haven’t been listening to much radio or watching music tv so I hadn’t heard a single from yeezy’s new record, but I had heard the rumors of him singing t-pain style on the album. thankfully kanye and his people saw fit to post the album in its entirety on his myspace page so I could see what I’d be getting into.

after two full listens here are my thoughts...”love lockdown” is my favorite so far., with a nod to “welcome to heartbreak” and “amazing.” i also liked “bad news,” the only song on the album about his mom. (if you can tell me the sample he used here you get some points!) kanye has done a good job mastering the concept album. this album like his previous three releases is consistent and thorough. gone are the goofy skits that must be fast forwarded. gone is the mouthy enthusiasm.

you know what this record reminds me of? the roots’ game theory. game theory was a moody album, not the joint you’re gonna bump in your ride by any means, but black thought had some things to get off his chest and used the mic to do so. clearly kanye’s had a tough year, major breakup and the loss of his mother, and 808s and heartbreak was his place to pour out some of that emotion.

now…let’s talk nuts and bolts…rhymes? not really much to speak on. kanye is vocoder singing most of this album. the lyrics here are not so much cleverly written as they are bare bones honest and vulnerable. production? consistent, 80s, synthesized. if you’re looking for club bangers you’ll be disappointed here. the album is contemplative and melancholy, but because of its consistent sound, you can still listen to it beginning to end. out of 5 stars? I give it 3. it’s not the kanye album I’m used to, but after two listens I can’t say it’s a bad album either.

so all of this to volley back to you...what do you dig or dislike about the album?