seriously, representing a massive shift in tone from his previous albums. Kanye started becoming a realer person, opening himself to criticism, which reflects the faults of our own society: it shouldn’t be afraid of sincerity, yet it still hides behind irony to shield itself from criticism. The second half of Graduation, while important, was simply a prelude to his true openness on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Before we arrive at My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, we need to make a stop at 808’s and Heartbreak. The outlier of his albums, it was still influential in his development as a persona and as a person, laced with attacks and reflections on his latest break up. He also radicalized his musical style, changing the pace from sampled beats and slick raps to minimal electronica with heavy overtones. While introspective, it often devolved into commentary about his ex rather than himself. He called her a “Spoiled little LA girl,” saying that she needs to “Show some gratitude and leave the attitude back at home.” Eventually, he realized that he can only blame himself. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye West’s magnum opus, in which he exhibits his split personality. Up until “Runaway,” Kanye plugs his old self, the selfish, egotistical rapper who can never accept blame. “Runaway” is the perfect transition to finally revealing and accepting himself, finally being sincere: “Never was much of a romantic/Could never take the intimacy/And I know I did the damage/’Cause the look in your eyes is killing me.” His whole world crashed and he now sees that it was his own fault. It’d be naïve to ignore the following track, “Hell of a Life,” as it’s radically different than the songs surrounding it. I view it as a reversion to his old self, a last gasp of air before his ego finally departs. He develops his new sincerity on “Blame Game” as he precisely describes the emotions of his tumultuous relationship. “I’d rather be by my fucking self/Till about two a.m. and I call back and I start to blame myself/ Somebody help.” This is in stark contrast to the proud Kanye that once proclaimed on “Bring Me Down” that “I’mma look in the mirror if I need some help.” It’s also the polar opposite of 808’s. Instead of blaming his ex, he blames himself, evolving into a rational human being who acknowledges his own shortcomings by rejecting the idea that it is always someone else’s fault. Throughout My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye finally changes from a persona into a person. What does this have to do with Kanye being the artist of our generation? An artist like this is vital because he exemplifies the zeitgeist of society. He only hinted at true emotions in his first four albums, but embraced them in his fifth. As youth continue to engage in a charade of insincerity in order to hide their real selves, they act out a façade of relationships. By hiding behind the veil of irony and the culture of listing faux symbols of culture to impress, we refuse to reveal what makes our lives so beautiful: sincerity. 11
WCWM 90.9-FM's semesterly music journal, featuring concert write ups, album reviews, and more.