The highly anticipated Kanye West album dropped a day earlier than I thought… but it arrived with applause nonetheless. Ever since he released “Power” everyone (who are fans) had been drooling and awaiting the return or comeback, and for good reasons too.
Fortunately, a guy like Mr. West is innovative and all about his fans. So along with the usual build up like any artist would do, with live performances, singles, interviews, he also gave us GOOD Fridays. I’ve spoke about this before, somewhat. I’ve also discussed his “videos.” And it’s only correct to put it that way since “Power” wasn’t really a music video and Runaway was more of a short feature film which featured most of what’s on the album, or at least a taste of some of those songs. I’ll refer back to the short film quite a bit.
But thanks to the Runaway, most of MBDTF is semi-visualized for me. I’ll hear “Dark Fantasy” and I’ll imagine the first scenes of the film including the explosion scene with Kanye walking away with his phoenix. And I don’t have a problem with that. In my opinion, I think that was Kanye’s plan all along. A tip of the hat to you, sir. And I’d be tipping my hat to him a lot due to this album, to be honest.
With rap albums, I take more time to listen to the lyrics because some artists have a very slick tongue and I’ll miss a reference or verse the first few times which may make or break a song for me. But what’s most impressive about this album is the production. This doesn’t sound like a typical rap/hip hop album. Granted, it is classified as one, but had you listened to this same album without any vocals, I dare you to put a genre to it.
“Gorgeous” is an alright song. I don’t absolutely love it, but I’ll probably find something to love about it sooner or later. It’s not a song I’d skip over. I don’t really need to talk about “Power” again, do I? We all know that song well. I think I like the remix better these days.
The song that really does it for me is “All of the Lights” which, again, brings me to Runaway. But I gave in and borrowed a copy of the song from the internets for a little while and visualized my own music video for it, taking a few cues from his short film. Musically, I love the triumphant sound of all the instruments involved. Sounds like horns to me and an actual marching band. There is an interlude, or instrumental introduction rather, than now MUST be played before the actual song itself begins. Violins and pianos are featured there. And the guest list of artists… too many to name (I’m just being lazy, but Rihanna, Elton John, John Legend and Alicia Keys to name a few).
“Monster” grew on me. This was one of his GOOD Friday songs along with “So Appalled.” Both of these songs can be considered “posse songs” because they feature quite a few people with verses. I like posse songs. I’m not so much a fan of “So Appalled” and depending on my mood; it’s probably one of two songs I’d skip. Like I said earlier, I need to listen to the song a few more times to pick up all the lyrics and determine if I really like it. But this song introduced me to Nicki Minaj… who at this point I’m still not a fan, but she got my attention on this song with an awesome verse.
“Devil in a New Dress” was another GOOD Friday song, and at first I didn’t care for it. But after seeing it in Runaway, I’ve warmed up to it. I know the sample is from Smokey, but I keep getting a Marvin vibe. It’s all soul though. This is also one of the songs that scared people thinking Kanye is a Satan worshiper. These are just lyrics folks. Calm down.
“Runaway” is the longest track on the album, and obviously get’s the most screen time in the film. Songs like these show his detail and attention to instrumentals. And again, I think of the film when I hear this song (and not his VMA or SNL performance, not that there was anything wrong with them). What he’s saying in the last part of the song with the heavy auto-tune, I couldn’t tell you. It’s also good enough that I don’t really care what he’s saying. I bet those who think he’s Illuminati are thinking it’s a code.
“Hell of a Life” is a skippable song to me. It doesn’t really do much for me and reminds me of Late Registration‘s “Addiction” in terms of themes. There’s also a machine gun beat that reminds me of Alicia Keys’ “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart.” Not a complaint, just an observation.
“Blame Game” is a soft yet sad song, and definitely on the vulgar side. But being about a broken relationship, why wouldn’t it be vulgar? Surprise cameo by Chris Rock, earning it that rated R status, in case one was needed.
“Lost in the World” is what made Runaway awesome for me. The whole last 5-10 minutes is because of this song and the visuals that accompanied it. However, I also borrowed a version of this song from the internet that was ripped from the film, and there are subtle differences that I’m not sure which I like more just yet. What’s on the album is the completed version. The final product. What’s in the film was still being worked on, I guess. But what’s great about this song is… well… too many things. The short answer is production. “Who Will Survive America” is the next track which is meant to be played right along with “Lost in the World”, like in the film. Or at least that’s the way I see it. Shout out to the awesome Gil Scott Heron.
I overall really enjoyed this album and it’s hard for me to compare it to his past albums, like Graduation and The College Dropout since they all had lives of their own, and existed in their own kind of a world. I can’t exactly figure out this world just yet, other than that of Runaway, but my favorite time and place to listen to this is in my car.
Like the movie Once, a lot of music I listen to I like to give it the car test–riding around in my car with the volume up high to really hear the music on the road. The other thing I like to do is figure out if the music is more suited for daytime driving, or nighttime driving. For example, happy-go-lucky or every bright sounding songs give me a daytime vibe. It doesn’t mean I can’t listen to it at night, surely I do, but it just fits my mood better during the day. Well, MBDTF is a nighttime driving album. Songs like “All of the Lights” and “Lost in the World” lend itself to being heard while driving in the city being showered with streetlights and/or moonlight. And just for those curious, I think Graduation is more of a daytime album. But while it’s daytime while I’m listening and typing this out, I imagine this taking place at night. Regardless, it’s worth the buy.