This is a Kanye West album, which means it's full of guest singers, guest producers, guest guitarists and more guests from just about every industry..
I have listened to all the Kanye West albums that have he has previously released, my opinions vary from each album. I loved the early material, i also liked some stuff from Graduation and parts of 808. He is a respectable artist who can put samples to good use. This has been the case throughout his early career as a producer, producing some of the big tracks on the early, less commercial Jaz Z albums. This album was hyped almost every day in the 3 months leasing up to release, i mean.. it literally was hyped so much, that we were expecting something from out of this world. Some people still say this is the greatest album of 2010, that's fair enough, but to me i dont think it is.
The content then.. well it's very well produced, so good in fact that some could say it's over produced in places and under produced in others. Some tracks have delicate vocals and fantastic samples, other have poor guests with poor flow and straight up bad singing. In most cases, the tracks are good, i would call it Alternative Hip-Hop as opposed to the traditional Hip-Hop, because it just isn't Hip-Hop. We see Jay Z, Kid Cudi and several other big names involved on this project, i think that's because Kanye aimed at reaching a more critical mainstream audience. As his last was left with mediocre success and little appraisal.
Dark Fantasy is far too long for an opening track, at almost 5 minutes, it drags on for far too long. It has a nice intro and a nice beat and a chorus. The track just keeps repeating itself with mediocre lyrics. It's such a time killer. Kanye's delivery isn't brilliant, he's not the best rapper or singer, i think he knows this, he can give a good rap sometimes.
Gorgeous has a nice guitar riff and a big beat, the strings are really attractive here. I have to say the chorus is very good with some pretty good lyrics being sung. Kanye's vocal effort seriously shouldn't have came out like this. It was clearly intended but it just sounds poor. The lyrics are poor, including content like 'Choke a South Park writer with a fishdick'. Just fitting this in a song is bad to start with. It just doesn't fit and is simply immature.
Power really does stand out, with a fantastic beat with the fantastic samples. However the inclusion of King Crimson doesn't really fit, the concept fits, but it just doesn't sound right. It does split up the song and give the listener more imagery than the simple song. It's a nice track, it is the single and by far the most radio friendly. Much alike All of The Lights which follows, featuring a vocal by Rihanna. This song could be played in all the mainstream clubs, for a reason I'm not sure of, it isn't. If it was, it would be a hit with the crowd. It has a great riff and the vocals come across well performed.
Monster really is a key moment on the album, it's the half way track. It also features segments by separate artists, Kanye delivering a very good rap and Nicki Minaj also giving a very good effort. Rick Ross has a very good rap as well. The whole song is spectacular, it's my favourite from the album and also is the only track with visible low frequency bass, which everybody wants to hear. I enjoyed this track, unlike the following two tracks which to me where just total disappointments after Monster. At over 6 minutes So Appalled is by far the worst track on the album. The opening minute is amateur and straight up terrible, bad delivery, bad lyrics and basic production. It does improve as it goes along, but not to a respectable standard, the instrumental does improve. Devil In A Dress is much better, production sounds great, so much time and effort has been used in the making of this track and the album.
Runaway is a very good song, lyrically. The delivery by Kanye isn't amazing, nor the simplistic beat and instrumentals. It's just a good song with very good lyrics, i really do like it and i find myself singing along sometimes. It's respectable and has it's moments, but then again it is over 9 minutes long and the last few minutes are utterly pointless, but that's just me.
The last four tracks are not as strong as the opening half of the album, we have Hell of a Life which uses sampling well, but it doesn't really pick up at all. Blame Game again uses fantastic sampling, taking an Aphex Twin sample, one of his more delicate piano compositions. This track also has a fantastic chorus, Kanye has a thing with brilliant choruses separated to the rap delivery on the verses. I simply hate the Chris Rock vocal on Blame Game, i like Chris Rock as a comedian and a voice over actor. But i just don't like this. The following few tracks have a distinct style, which grew on me, they are well produced, but i don't think Kanye had much to do with these other than delivering the idea and samples.
Don't get me wrong, this is a good album. At times you can really hear some great material and effort. Other moments are met with time wasting and repetitive vocals. You can hear some great songs and some poor, this being the case I'm not sure why this album was met with raving critical acclaim, part of it must come from the unbelievable hype, the other must come from the perfect production, because the production certainly is perfect in most places. The album is just let down by poor lyrics, poor guest vocals and poor time lengths. I can see why some people can really get into the album, but from my point of view, it doesn't deserve the acclaim or general fondness. It's one of his better albums but not the best.