My personal Opinion: Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak is gourmet BASURA.
I like Kanye West. I think he ushered in a period of heavy soul sampling production and homage to past legends in hip hop. For the most part, I have liked his music. I enjoyed College Dropout. I felt it was a groundbreaking album that gave balance to the Universe, especially with 50 Cent at that point carrying the flag for the Gangsta side of Rap. Kanye "kept it real." Didn't claim to be a tough guy, didn't rhyme every other song about gun talk or his latest Sexual conquest. Instead, he had songs about family (Family business) overcoming adversity (I'll fly away and Through the Wire) and even found some time to put a little religion into it (Jesus Walks). Those songs were just on his first Album!! I have a hard time recalling another debut album since 2000 which has had the type of impact and buzz that the College Dropout did. Following up with Late Registration (sense a theme here?) he broke the Sophomore jinx with monster hits like Touch the Sky, Gold Digger, Hey Mama (especially poingnant now) celebration, and Bring me down. My personal favorite (and the song I feel is him baring his soul) from this album would definitely have to be Diamonds from Sierra Leone. Before this song I had minimal knowledge of the blood diamond trade and the evil being done to African People in Diamond Mining regions. To keep this blog from becoming a book, I'll skip his next album, Graduation, which I also love and also went platinum, just like his previous 2, and get to my major issue with Mr. Kanye to the (West's) Musical catalogue. 808's and Heartbreak. While I understand the general premise behind the album, (messy and painful break up from his fiance) his method of production and delivery has left me scratching my head. First of all, the worst decision Kanye West could have ever made was to blatantly copy someone else's style or grab onto a current (and fast expiring, hopefully) trend. Yet he somehow managed to do BOTH! He basically became K-Payne and did the entire frickin album using Auto-Tune. The entire album. And if that wasn't bad enough, he doesn't rap on the album. At all. Instead? HE SINGS. Kanye West should not sing. Kanye West should produce and rap. For this reason, whenever someone asks me if I heard Kanye's new Rap CD,I have to quickly correct them and let them know that Kanye West's new album is pop. Not even R&B, but pop. The ONLY person who has gotten away with doing an album of this nature was most notably, Andre 3000 with The Love Below (Fantastic!!) and Lauryn Hill with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Top 15 all time album). And even with these notable exceptions, both artists rhymed on these albums. I firmly believe that Kanye West was taken aback and felt personally threatened by this tidal wave movement of Auto Tune in Rap. Almost everyone of note has used it, from Lil'Wayne to Snoop Dogg (Keep fighting the urge, Jay-z!!). The fact that this artist who has prided himself on being original would fall into this trap is depressing and irritating for me, the faithful listener. It's not like his old ways weren't being awarded commercially or artistically (He's one ten Grammy Awards®!!). This musical blunder now forces me to place this album in the same file folder as Rocky V, which never happened. I can only hope that Kanye gets back on track and produces good Hip Hop.