Eclectic Vibes: Can “808’s & Heartbreak” Save Def Jam?
Okay I take back everything I ever said about Kanye West. Well not really, I still think he’s a pretentious asshole. But, after listening to the first track on his latest album “808’s & Heartbreak,” I realized he’s a talented pretentious asshole. And that’s all right in my book.
“808’s & Heartbreak” isn’t your average rap album. It’s not even your average hip-hop album (where experimentation is welcomed, sometimes see:Common for when it’s not). I think that’s what I like so much about it. The last rap album I almost enjoyed was Lil’ Wayne’s “The Carter III.” So that means Kanye’s album has made a great impression indeed.
Brace yourself, Kanye’s no singer, but he does sing on every track. A lot of tracks he sounds so much like T-Pain I thought I was listening to “Thr33 Ringz.” On some tracks he’s convincing vocally (“Amazin” & “Welcome To Heartbreak”) and sometimes his voice is shrill, empty, scratchy and sometimes whiny (“Streetlights” “Robocop”). But, it’s not his singing that makes this album bad or good, it’s the production here that’s the star. These are some of the best beats I’ve heard in a while. From the heavy stadium worthy “Welcome To Heartbreak” to the spacey Lil’ Wayne assisted “See You In My Nightmares” this album bumps. There’s a sense of humanness to the beats which is eerie. Take for instance “Love Lockdown” when the drums come in just a bit too fast, it seems like a mistake that was left in because it makes the song feel that much more real.
What strikes me as impressive, dare I say genius, is his influence of tribal beats. He describes this as making an emotional feel which permeates through the whole album. The album is cohesive. It’s one clear, concise thought.
What’s even better about “808’s & Heartbreak,” is in the world of rap music, album art is rarely art. It’s usually the most photoshopped photo with a nasty typeface. But, what I appreciate about Kanye is he brings back the art of having good album covers. This one is amazing. Kudos to the designer for using Helvetica. It looks clean.
Whether “808’s & Heartbreak” saves Def Jam or not from totally oblivion this winter is yet to be seen. But one things for certain, depending on his competition at next year’s Grammy’s, if Kanye loses Album of the Year he might actually have a legitimate reason to flip out this time.
Download: “See You In My Nightmares” “Welcome to Heartbreak” & “Amazin” “Love Lockdown”