Mr. West has tried to diversify his music for most of his career; The College Dropout was a Hip-Hop record with the sampling and soul music of The Blueprint, Late Registration was the album where his production took center-stage, while his rapping was still great. Graduation is where Kanye really started killing it with lyrics that were just out of here! And now, he’s decided to sing an entire album T-Pain style. Plus, he’s dropping an album the same day as Ludacris’ Theater Of The Mind. Will Kanye finally prove he can sing? I pray to God he does as I review 808’s & Heartbreak.
1. Say You Will Produced by Kanye West This album kind of starts off with a dud: I mean, I want to like this track; the message is good, doing what you say you’re going to do, but Kanye’s singing is off key and also is off timing at sometimes. Whats more, he only sings for about 3 and a half minutes: the other 4 minutes is devoted to straight instrumentals. That’s right; even though the track says 6:18, it actually goes past 7 minutes! So yeah, I’m kind of up in the air on this one; sometimes I like it, other times I don’t. I will say that it sets the tone for the album but as a song it doesn’t stand alone too well.
2. Welcome To Heartbreak Featuring Kid Cudi; Produced by Kanye West Looks like Kanye pulled out a leftover beat from Graduation for this one. Still, this track is good. Kid Cudi, whoever the hell that is, assists Kanye’s singing on the track. The topic is kind of stupid though. It’s about the sadness in Kanye’s life: his lack of his own family, how he had to skip his own relative’s wedding, etc. Oddly no mention of his mother in here. This song is great, a step-up from the last song, and it continues to set the tone.
3. Heartless Produced by Kanye West & No I.D. When this song leaked, people actually started to change their minds about this album. This definitely should have been the first single seeing as Kanye raps on it a little; it would have been a much easier transition into his new sound instead of a sudden change like “Love Lockdown” was. I think the title speaks for itself, just play this song, it’s still one of the best on the album. So far the tone of the album has been pretty dark, but it still flows well and sounds great overall.
4. Amazing Featuring Young Jeezy; Produced by Kanye West Kanye’s singingi is real suspect on this one: I mean, sometimes I feel it, other times I just don’t feel it at all. The pianos on it are sick and everything, but the tone is kind of weird. ‘Ye pulled out animal sounds on it too and they just don’t work on this track. Jeezy’s rapping is great and all, but then they have his chopped and screwed voice on the hook and it’s a little head-scratching. I don’t know, like a lot of the tracks on this album, I’m still kind of up in the air on this one. Still, at times it can be a real jam and I really dig it.
5. Love Lockdown Produced by Kanye West & No I.D. It seems like at the last minute Kanye enhanced the songs that were leaked out to the public. This song sounded awful when I first heard it, but it’s not bad right now as it is. Unfortunately, this is not the live version of the song; I have that song on my MP3 player and it is much better than the studio version. There is just simply more emotion and feeling in that one. It kind of reminded me of Lil’ Wayne’s song “Gossip”: that was amazing at the BET Awards, but just okay as a studio version. As a song though, this is a good song, it’s much better than what you’ve probably heard.
6. Paranoid Featuring Mr. Hudson; Produced by Kanye West Whoo! This is more like it. This shit feels like 80’s Michael Jackson shit! I know how much Kanye likes Mike, so he must have channeled his inner Jackson on this one. This probably one of the few tracks on here I would keep on repeat; it’s awesome. Mr. Hudson is some British singer who really popular in the U.K. by the way. His singing on the hook is pretty bad, but it doesn’t kill the song. Great work.
7. RoboCop Produced by Kanye West Yeah, I wasn’t feeling this when it first leaked and now that it’s out, I’m STILL not feeling it. I mean, it’s still much better than the rough version that leaked out a couple months ago, but come on, this is still one of, if not THE worst tracks on the album. SKIP.
8. Street Lights Produced by Kanye West This is a lot better. It’s an introspective look on Kanye’s life (His singing is great too). The beat on the track goes well with the auto-tune like a lot of the other standout tracks on the album and this makes it another stand out on the album (Especially since a lot of the tracks on this album kind of don’t go along with the whole auto-tune thing). Great track though.
9. Bad News Produced by Kanye West Damn. I mean, the lyrics are great and the songwriting is very good; taking the perspective of a girl in a relationship that just went wrong, but the song just kind of sounds…bad. The auto-tune is just awkward with the beats that backs it up. It sounds like Kanye is underwater most of the song. This maybe an effect that Kanye put on the song to add meaning to it, but at the same time most people aren’t going to look into the meaning of the song while listening to it if it turns them off. I’m still really up in the air, though this time I’m kind of leaning towards a SKIP.
10. See You In My Nightmares Featuring Lil’ Wayne; Produced by Kanye West This my favorite track off the album; when I saw the feature I thought it was going to be “war of the auto-tunes”, and I was right. But not in the way I had thought it was going to be. Lil Wayne is singing the hook here and it sounds good, and even better he actually spits a 16 I can co-sign. I generally dislike Weezy even if I respect his following, but at the same time I can’t lie when he actually does some good shit. Kanye’s singing on the track is good, and his production further displays emotion and feeling while particularly dark. Like I said, my favorite track on the album.
11. Coldest Winter Produced by Kanye West This is the track he made about his mom, and this just might be the darkest of the all of the tracks on the album and I think that it goes without saying that it also is one of the most emotional. ‘Ye’s singing is great and at the same time betrays a lot of emotion because he doesn’t sing emotionally (If that makes any sense at all). This song is great, it’s particularly targeted at people who have lost people in their life; having lost family members in my life I can relate to the song’s message. Great song, a good way to close out the album.
12. Pinocchio Story Produced by Kanye West This track is a live freestyle he did while performing in Singapore. Reportely, Beyonce heard it and urged Kanye to put it on the album. This is basically Kanye lamenting on how he feels like he wants avoid fame and just be a “real boy”. He has no “Geppetto to guide him,” just him trying to find his way through life. Like the last track, this betrays a lot of emotion, and this is a good addition to the album
I know I said this throughout this whole review, but I’m still indecisive about this whole album. I mean, can you even call this Hip-Hop? Big deal if Jeezy and Weezy drop a verse on a song, that doesn’t give the entire album a Hip-Hop feel. People like T-Pain and Andre 3000 can get away with that, but when you have a sound like Kanye’s, it’s different. As a Hip-Hop reviewer, I reviewed this as a Hip-Hop album, or more precisely, how I would review a T-Pain album. ‘Ye fixed one of T-Pain’s faults: he kept it short and to the point. However, his musical prowess may go unnoticed because of how deep he gets. When you hear Kanye, you know he pushes the envelope, but this is different, he’s definitely going to go over a lot of people’s heads with this one. At the end of the day though, my review doesn’t matter; a lot of you out there will go out and buy his album even if it was his worst work, which I think that it arguably is (Which is hard to say when he’s released such gems in his past). I really hate to sit on the fence here, but this album is just an emotional roller coaster ride: sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. If your ready for something different, give this album a spin. If not, you can wait for Kanye’s next album in June. I think this album will be a success, and Kanye should still be proud of the fact that he can branch out and make decent music in another genre. Update: Rating goes from 3 Stars to 4 Stars. Check out H20’s revisit t0 808’s & Heartbreak in the Play It Again Sam column for the reason.
“Heartless” “Welcome To Heartbreak” (feat. Kid Cudi) “See You in My Nightmares” (feat. Lil wWyne) “Paranoid” (feat. Paranoid) “Amazing” (feat. Young Jeezy)