Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Artist: Kanye West
Title: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Release date: November 22
Fitting, perhaps, that Kanye West's new record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is one of the final 15 or so new records that I'll be listening to before this Nothing Not New project turns out the lights at the end of this month. The record represents a lot of what I don't get about modern popular music or, put a better way, what I don't get about what other people think is genius -- and people clearly think West is a genius.
Sorry, I just don't like the guy's music. My loss, I guess. But I just don't get it -- and it's not just that I'm generally not a fan of hip-hop. Given that the genre is mostly a mystery to me, I have to say that the self-importantly titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (though, admittedly, a perfect title for a Facebook-obsessed society that can't help explaining to the rest of the world what is constantly on its mind) is a pretty big drag. A long, bloated, humorless, profane, self-indulgent drag. I know, I know, self-indulgence is part of West's shtick. Recognizing that still doesn't make this record any less a chore to listen to.
My question to West is: Why so serious? Complaining about one's fame, as West does a lot on Fantasy, is certainly nothing new for the Tortured Artist, which is how West clearly posits himself. As a music fan, though, selling yourself as a put-upon bajillionaire is one of the most tired acts in popular music.
I suspect West may be singing, tongue not in cheek, about himself in the single "Runaway": "Let's have a toast for the douchebags / Let's have a toast for the assholes . . . Run away as fast as you can." I don't buy the self-deprecating bit, though, because West thinks he's the best thing to happen to music in at least a couple of generations.
I think West (or one of his collaborating peers) puts it best on "So Appalled," albeit not in the context he surely intended: "This shit is fucking ridiculous."
Best song: "Power".
Deja vu: The Beach Boys "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"
I'd rather listen to: Whaddaya got? Girl Talk? I'll take it.
Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here. The "Nothing Not New" Archives:
November 16 -- Stereolab: Not Music (B-)
November 15 -- The Fresh & Onlys: Play It Strange (C+)