Album Review: Kanye West – 808’s & Heartbreak

22 11 2008


Kanye drops his breakthrough album 808’s & Heartbreak just in time for the holiday season. While the release of this album was rather unexpected, the question is will fans find 808’s & Heartbreak boomin’ or heartbreakin’?


4/5

In early 2004, a producer-rapper emerged from the Chi with distinctive, soul sample production and realistic song content. College Dropout discussed everything from religion, to college, to slow jams. The album’s successor, Late Registration followed the school theme, but also showed Kanye’s progress as a producer. Instead of sticking with the soul-sample sound, Kanye went for more of an orchestral vibe with the album. After years of controversies and outspoken moments, Kanye dropped Graduation which outsold competitor 50 Cent, and showed consistency in his career.
Early in Mr. West’s career, he laid out the blueprint of his album titles; College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and Good Ass Job. About a year after Graduation, Kanye announced he will be dropping an album this year, and decided not to go with the Good Ass Job title. Kanye named the album 808’s & Heartbreak to represent the drum sound on his latest project, the unfortunate loss of his Mother, and the disengagement of his fiancé Alexis Phiffer.
Ye took a different approach with this album. It is full auto-tune, and very limited rapping. The album begins with “Say You Will”, which sets the tone for 808’s & Heartbreak. The booming 808 and the piano laced production shows an emotional sound to Kanye as he expresses his dislike for dishonest women. The follow up track “Welcome to Heartbreak” would’ve been the perfect intro for the album. On the Kid Cudi assisted track Kanye compares material accomplishments to priceless life experiences which equates to heartbreak.
The albums second single “Heartless” is one of the rare tracks that feature rap vocals. The flute driven instrumental features Ye confronting a cold hearted woman saying “How could you be so, Dr. Evil/You bringin’ out a part of me that I don’t know”. The next track “Amazing” has a guest spot from Young Jeezy and features a tribal type of sound similar to the lead single “Love Lockdown”. One of the standout tracks, the synthesized “Paranoid” has an eighties vibe to it, and is followed up with the mediocre “RoboCop”. While the album version of “RoboCop” features additional strings and other efforts, the combination of auto-tune, sirens, and strings is a bit disastrous.
Another sub par track on the album is “Bad News”. The dark sounding track is one of the moments on the album where the auto-tune begins to sound abused. The excessive use of the auto-tune continues on the Lil Wayne collab “See You in my Nightmares”. Overall it’s a favorable song, but after 9 straight songs of auto-tune, it starts to become an annoyance. The album comes to a closing with the mandatory dedication to his late Mother Donda West. “Coldest Winter” is a farewell to his beloved Mother where Kanye does a remake of Tears for Fears “Memories Fade”.
Overall, 808’s & Heartbreak is a great album. The production is genius and shows Kanye’s versatility and progression as a producer and artist. Though “RoboCop” and “Bad News” are my least favorite on the album, Kanye makes up for them with musical tracks like “Paranoid” and “Welcome to Heartbreak”. Also, the use of the auto-tune becomes a problem towards the albums closing. A couple of auto tune-less tracks would’ve been ideal but it could’ve resulted in an inconsistent sound. I can see 808’s… not being accepted by everyone, but a real musician takes risks. Common did it with Electric Circus, Andre did it with The Love Below, and Cee-Lo did it with St. Elsewhere. Since Kanye is at his peak in his career, this would be a good time to drop an experimental album. Upon the first listen on the album, you find yourself thinking “what am I listening to?”, but after two to three more listens, it becomes infectious.

To Sum It Up In One Word: Heartful

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2 responses

22 11 2008
Anonymous

Thought you gave a great informational review on the album Holmes. I didn’t know they broke off the engagement! No mother, no woman…that man needs Jesus.

Great job!

23 11 2008
L The Hustla

Good lookin on the props Veronica (so much for anonymous). Go out n cop the album when it drops!

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