Finally! After tons of build-up, Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is out in stores today. Here are eight reasons you should buy it immediately.
[jump] 1. Taylor Swift's Speak Now sold 1 million copies in its first week. Are we to let that go unanswered?
I know, I know. We're all adults here, and as such we know that in life it's not about winning or losing - it's about how you play the game. Most of the time, that's something we tell our kids; when your favorite NBA team is facing the NBA team you loathe, what you really want is for your favorite NBA team to send the NBA team you loathe crying home to their mommas. Wearing slings. With big, pointy dunce caps on their heads. Because at heart, we're all fractious bullies; we pick sides and cheer for someone.
All of that said, I've got nothing against Taylor Swift. She didn't deserve to be upstaged by a drunk, rude Kanye West, regardless of whether or not awards-show voters made a dumb decision. She was crazy hilarious while hosting Saturday Night Live. Her duet with Cyndi Lauper - on some other awards show, there's so many of 'em - was actually pretty moving. I have heard her songs and remember none of them, except for one, which had a good hook. I wish her the best. And yet, for the sake of the neat wrapping up of West's ruins-to-redemption narrative, I want him to whup her behind in album sales this week. And if that happens, I want him to be gracious and decent and grown-up about having whupped her behind in album sales. (And then - maybe after Watch The Throne - I want Kanye West to drop off the national radar for a while.) Your purchase, today, of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is actually an investment in West's future: a validation, sure, of his "my wrongs helped my write this song" M.O. but also an encouragement to more on from his wrongs-as-creative-jumpoff approach to something more positive and progressive.
- Think you've really heard this album via Youtube/G.O.O.D. Friday leaks? Think again.
You just haven't. We don't care if you did sit through the Runaway movie. West wisely kept the lushest, brightest, and tightest versions of songs like "Lost In The World" and "Gorgeous" and "Hell of a Life" under wraps. The versions you'll hear on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy are ridiculously high fidelity, they fairly pop; it's almost a 4th-generation VHS bootleg vs Blue-Ray disc difference. "Power"? The backdrop sample-heirogylphics really leap out at you. That heavenly choir on "Dark Fantasy"? They almost sound like real angels. Think "Devil In A New Dress" couldn't sound more delirious? Just wait til you peep the song's ornate new Rick Ross wing. Really.
First introduced as a G.O.O.D. Friday track, "See Me Now" had us from jump: the church-service charge the beat carries, the rakishly arrogant, celebratory 'Ye verses, Beyonce and Charlie Wilson up in the wings bringing it all home even before 'Ye'd left his heated five-car garage. Yet I always had the sense that the song was missing something, that there wasn't quite enough there there; no rap production is awesome enough to justify a 90-second long outro where the host jokes about earning his way back onto the cover of Ebony and not much else. Enter Michigan rapper Big Sean, who surfaces at the end of the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy version to introduce an altogether different species of knuckle-headed whimsy, compare himself to Axel Foley, and brag that Kanye "rolled me and my momma round in his Maybach."
4. How many chances - outside of mental institutions - does anyone get to dress up as Kanye West?
Gimme Noise remembers reading a Kanye interview a couple years ago where he said something along the lines of "if I'm really a fan of yours, I'll show up to the record store on release day dressed like you to buy your shit." Halloween's over, dude; carpe diem. Break out the cubic-zirconia encrusted Jesus piece, the Miami Vice-inspired leisure wear, the functionally insipid glasses; call some friends up, hot-wire a Bentley together, cruise to your friendly neighborhood music retailer in high style.
5. Blood-red album cover art can be used to antagonize and misdirect rampaging bulls if you don't happen to have a cape handy.
Because Kanye West himself has nightmares where he's stuck at the center of Spanish bull-fighting coliseums with only George Condo-created, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy LP sleeves to hand. Clad in a traditional matador's costume. As enraged bulls paw the dirt and spectators cheer. Seriously. I know: just like in a Hemingway novel.
6. Don't get left out of the national discussion on Kanye.
West's myriad 2010 hijinx - the G.O.O.D. Friday leaks, the x-rated picture-sending, the Runaway movie, the Today Show fiasco, seven or twenty other memes I'm forgetting now - successfully made everything else happening in the world of music irrelevant. This can't continue forever - nothing really can - but if you're the kind of person who has friends (or at least lots of associates) and gets invited to swank holiday parties attended by powerful, culturally-attuned professionals, West will be on everyone's lips. It's not necessary to be able to perform an opinionated mini-monologue that neatly encapsulates his year, but it wouldn't hurt to be familiar with this record at the very least. For extra credit, bone up on how the pop-crit establishment worked itself into sprained-cerebellum fits over dude this year. After New Year's, you won't have to care anymore. As for me, I never get invited to these types of parties.
8. To cop and rock the album physically or immediately, you'll have to vacate your basement or cubicle farm - and that's a good thing.
Get outside! (Yep, that means outside of your edge city.) Stretch. Talk to people you don't know, counsel stray pets, patronize a daring, under-heralded street-food vendor. It's surprisingly easy to lose an entire day stuck at a desk, gazing unblinkingly into a flat, flashing screen; it's even easier to surrender to the urge to read a book come lunchtime. Today, why not put aside the Thomas Pynchon? Be, for today, a proud non-reader of books; get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life. At the record store, you may notice a few other people milling around near the Kanye West end-cap. You will look curiously at them, and they will look curiously at you, and you will all be engaging in what record buyers used to do on Tuesdays when big-shit tent-pole rap albums came out: buying big-shit tent-pole rap albums in person by waiting in line with actual money. Today, in other words, be a proud anachronism.