Tuesday, November 25, 2008

808's & Heartbreak Review

I've been listening to the final version of this album for a little more than a week now. Instead of blogging my opinions on the day it got leaked, I decided to take some time and fully internalize the approach and execution of the project.

When "Love Lockdown" was released I was instantly skeptical of what was to come. Those of you who downloaded the original version probably remember how poorly it was mixed and how careless the autotune processing was. The final version is completely different and so too is my impression of it. When it dropped... I thought it was garbage.... now I think it's genius...

In fact, I think that this album as a whole is a strong work of art. Kanye manages to turn the redundancy of autotune and synth heavy melodies into something completely new and unexpected. 808's & Heartbreak finds a way to defy genre. For most artists that would be a task of great challenge and risk, for Kanye it's as simple as a few weeks in Hawaii.

We have not seen an icon in Hip Hop culture break the rules like Kanye does on 808' since Andre 3000 crafted The Love Below. It is now fair to say that Mr. West, much like 3 Stacks, is simply more than a producer or a rapper. He is a visionary and an icon of artistic expression. I have been scanning forums and blogs and to my surprise there are a great deal of people out there bashing this album. The same was true for The Love Below. What I've come to realize is that the Hip Hop community can be extremely conservative. Whenever something changes in the sonic landscape of rap music there are always thousands who complain about it. Their small minded critiques often come with a flood of homophobia and synthetic claims of violence, leaving their arguments unsupported and vague. We have reached a moment in time where our political system can act as a metaphor for our music. "Real Hip Hop" seems to operate on a conservative agenda that insists upon preservation and nostalgia, whereas a project like 808's & Heartbreak anticipates the future and guarantees inspiration for generations to come. I am not opposed to the recognition and appreciation of the roots of Hip Hop music. What bothers me is that those who insist upon the roots often fail to recognize the forest that now rests above them. Thanks to Kanye we now have another branch to enjoy.



Anonymous said...

couldnt have said it any better, and the next time someone bashes the album ill use your review..haha

Cly said...

Nice review. Haven't heard it yet, but expected as much.