Mackenzie Cummings-Grady Journal Contributor
For Kanye West, pushing the envelope is something the public has come to expect from him. It began with his claim that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ back in 2006, climaxed with his drunken interruption speech at the VMA’s in 2009, and ended with his claim that he and Jay-Z were the undisputed kings of hip-hop in 2011. However, if one is able to step through the fray that West has created, you’ll see that he pushes the envelope in his music as well as in the media. If 808’s & Heartbreaks (Rock-A-Fella, 2008) wasn’t the boldest move taken by a hip-hop artist I don’t know what is. For me, Kanye’s musical climax resulted in the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The album has sold 1,254,000 copies and is deemed by critics as being West’s greatest achievement in hip-hop ever.
After the success of the album, fans waited with baited breath to see where he would take his music next. West then confirmed in early 2012 that he had a collaboration album in the works with all the members of his record label G.O.O.D Music. The fans rejoiced. Kanye’s label consists of some of the biggest names in hip-hop today such as Big Sean, Kid CuDi, Jay-Z, John Legend, 2 Chainz, and Ghostface Killah. This album was destined for greatness.
Unfortunately, that is where the excitement ends. With the album finally upon us, I can only say the promiscuous marble painted cover is more detailed and meaningful than the album itself. The electronica and soul influences that gave me goose bumps on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy have been stripped down to the bare high hat symbol bass lines that pollute the rap industry today.
However it is not all bad news, even if the beats aren’t distinctive and the verses aren’t poetic, this is still an album you can jam too. If “Mercy” and “Clique” at full volume won’t inspire you to grind, and if “To The World” doesn’t inspire you to stick it to the man, with R. Kelly belting “Let me see you put your middle fingers up to the world, I made up in my mind I’m doin’ things my way, I’m burnin’ it down tonight,” I’m not sure what will. With all the A list rappers contributing to this album there was no plausible excuse for it not to be good.
It’s safe to say Kanye West has always exceeded expectations when it comes to his music, and the fact that he played it so safe is disappointing. I am hoping this album was just a fun experiment, like friends playing a game of touch football at a barbeque, and hopefully on West’s next go round at G.O.O.D Music he’ll be able to craft the Olympic gold we all know he can.