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Album Mon Nov 22 2010

Kanye Joins The Perfect Ten Club

The critics have started speaking on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and so far it's been straight A's across the board. Not least of all is the weigh-in from Pitchfork, who awarded their first non-reissue perfect ten score since fellow Chicagoans Wilco released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot some eight years ago.

The interwebs predictably have some choice snark on hand about the rating.

Opulent, ambitious excess is the theme of the album -- no less than 21 feature guests appear over 13 songs, including Jay-Z, Bon Iver, Raekwon and RZA, and Elton John. Having rolled out most of the album to blogs and the like throughout the fall - not to mention the 35-minute "Runaway" video, SNL performances, and countless other news tidbits - the album seems almost a retrospective, which speaks to West's ability to dominate the impossibly fast new media.

But out of its context, does the album hold up? It's almost an impossible question to ask, since much of them album is Kanye looking into himself, through himself, at humanity as portrayed by Kanye West. songs like "Runaway" find him fully aware of his narcissism and the bridges it's burned behind, with the line from braggadocio to despair so blurred that it almost makes sense for his voice to disappear into a vocoder warble. Elsewhere on "Blame Game" he raps over an increasingly famous Aphex Twin sample about his lost broken relationship, culminating in Chris Rock playing the other man doing a lewd stand-up juxtaposed against the sorrowful sample. Kanye leaves the album to close with Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron speaking his final pieces for him -- "Lost In The World" a measured but triumphant "what now" anthem segueing into the percussive free-rhyme meditation of closer "Lost In America." The scope and scale of the whole album is beyond all but the gaudiest prog-rock albums, but instead of druids and dragons, Kanye's fantasy is of his own melancholy megalomania, and all the more accessible to us.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


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