J.HAR Artist & Album Review: Kanye West
by Jackson Harlem
Because he’s brilliant [shakes head]. After listening to and reading interview after interview of Mr. West, I listened to his entire album. I listened with the aural techniques training I’ve acquired; I wanted to get past the “I like the beat” or “those were some ill lyrics” level.
The REVIEW: 808's & HEARTBREAK
The album begins with “Say You Will”. Enjoy the celestial voices of the choir droning a pure “ah” vowel while Kanye’s voice electrifies the foreground with heartfelt lyrics.
The beep? It’s a snare drum, altered. And you’ve gotta love the traditional drums pulsating with a tribal flavor.
"Welcome to Heartbreak" fills your ears with a deep, warrior melancholy ravaged with a quick maraca and a soft piano ornamentation. Listen to the lyrics. I was surprised.
“Heartless” blows my mind. No other artist has effectively used the wooden flute for instrumentation. Think Bach’s The Peaceable Kingdom. Ye’s voice isn’t completely digitized like it is on the other tracks, but as you know; the lyrics are kind of abstract. You’ll get it still.
The other tracks like “Amazing”, “Robocop”, use various elements like choral background filling, digital voicing, orchestral strings, African-inspired percussion, and piano ornamentation, fused with neo-futuristic synthesizing and aural distortion. Think Beyonce’s “Radio”.
Kanye’s “Pinnochio” Bonus track is a f_cking incredible analogy concept. The lyrics are mind-blowing. He pretty much sings throughout most of the album, and it's excellent.
All in all, his lyrics are classic Kanye: Frank, sincere, thought-provoking, and intimate.
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
The better quality you put in to yourself, the better quality you yield.
But you knew that right? You knew that if a rapper listened to The Police, Daft Punk, and other genres of music like Alternative, Rock, Grunge, and Sacred Latin Music that it would yield a higher quality of music in the genre he writes and produces, right?