Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is the Best Album of the 2010’s

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“Kanye West @ MoMA” by Jason Persse is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jack Poskus, Writer

In a time where the music industry was becoming increasingly dependent on autotune and meaningless lyricism, one of the music industry’s most well-known figures received perhaps the greatest second wind that any musician has ever gotten. Just over a year after an event that nearly cost him his career and legacy, Kanye West released his magnum opus “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” on Nov. 22, 2010.

Prior to the release of the album, West was essentially ousted by music fans after he went out of his way to—drunkenly—interrupt one of the music industry’s biggest up-and-coming artists, Taylor Swift, during her acceptance speech at the 2009 VMA Awards. To make matters worse, the year before, in 2008, West’s mother passed away from an artery disease, so to say that West was at the lowest point of his life is a monumental understatement.

As a means of self-imposed exile, West packed his bags and moved to Hawaii for half a year to work on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”; however, he was not alone by any means. Countless celebrities and contemporaries such as Chris Rock, Elton John and Kid Cudi joined West at some point or another to contribute toward the album. Perhaps the most significant part of this entire endeavor was the seriousness component, or to put it simply, how West meant business.

Following the track’s recording, West mentioned in an interview that it took 5,000 hours to complete the track “Power.” While most Kanye fans know he is no stranger to hyperbolic speech, tracks like “Power,” which was released before the full-length album, would not only excite fans six months prior to the release of the album, but it would be hard to argue that this teaser did not contribute heavily to the overwhelmingly positive reception “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” would soon receive.

After pouring his heart out in his 2008 album “808s and Heartbreak,” West tapped into his deepest, darkest thoughts for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” addressing the fresh break-up between him and his girlfriend at the time, Amber Rose; the music industry and, most of all, himself. As a result, Kanye West managed to put together one of the most polarizing pieces of music the medium and its fans have ever seen.

Upon release, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was met with critical acclaim, selling nearly half a million records in the first week. While fans were not sure what to expect after West’s melancholic, autotune-heavy “808s and Heartbreak,” West proceeded to rap about some of the most important and sensitive topics in America during that time. Concepts such as racism, wealth and self-doubt, among many others, were addressed countless times on West’s thirteen-track masterpiece; however, none of these were enough to mask the album’s artistic brilliance.

To no one’s surprise, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 in only a matter of weeks. Numerous publications, such as “Pitchfork” and “Rolling Stone,” quickly deemed “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” as West’s best album to date, using words such as “staggering” and “gravity-defying” to define West’s effort. A figure that was once frowned upon was now at the top of his game and the music industry, and one thing became clear to the public: Kanye West had returned to the limelight.

Enjoyable samples, incredible lyricism, and otherworldly production seeped through each and every track on West’s hour-long project, and though West is no stranger to these hip-hop album essentials, this time around, it felt like West’s effort on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” packed an extra punch. Whether it be West’s self-deprecating lyrics on “Runaway,” a legendary guitar solo from Mike Dean on “Devil In A New Dress” or even John Legend’s beautiful piano playing on “Blame Game,” the genre-bending qualities of West’s magnum opus made it a pleasant listen for music fans of all genres.

While some lyrics on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” may not have aged as well as others, such as the line “If God had an iPod I’d be on his playlist,” part of the reason “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” continues to stand the test of time is because of how relevant the lyrics were and still are on a much greater scale.

In attempts to address the ongoing issue of racism in America, West gave us one of his most recognizable lyrics ever on the song “Gorgeous” with the line, “Face it, Jerome get more time than Brandon/ And at the airport, they check all through my bag and tell me that it’s random. … ” In a flawless execution, West combined some of the nation’s most sensitive subjects with his profound lyricism, and as a result, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” continues to resonate with fans, more so now than it did upon its release more than a decade ago.

In terms of how contemporaries and other public figures perceived the album, in a 2015 interview with “Pitchfork,” Pusha T, who had a career-defining verse on the song “Runaway,” referred to “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” as “underrated” and “G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time]-level rapping.” He then concluded his tangent by saying, “People should talk about that album forever.” While Pusha T’s opinion was obviously biased due to the colossal career boost he got from “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” he was only one of many to make such a bold remark.

In a 2014 interview with “Hot 97,” Chris Rock, who had a nearly three-minute long skit on the song “Blame Game,” called the album “The best record ever.” He then doubled down on his statement by saying, “I think it’s better than ‘Thriller,’ ‘Purple Rain’ …” Arguably the most popular comedian of the 21st century, Chris Rock and his comments about West’s masterpiece should spark some interest into those with even the strongest hatred toward the genre and/or medium.

Ten years after the album’s initial release, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is still as breathtaking as ever. Ever since the release of West’s magnum opus, essentially the entire hip-hop community has turned the date Nov. 22 into a holiday to celebrate West’s legacy-defining project.

As lots of the concepts mentioned on the album are still shied away from even to this day, the fact that West addressed them, to the point where it almost made the listener uncomfortable, in such a nonchalant way truly defines West’s character. While the debate continues as to whether “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is the best album in West’s discography, the question alone should warrant awe from even the most casual music listener.

Comparable to Michael Jordan completing his second three-peat, West’s effort on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” solidified his legacy, in addition to taking the genre of hip-hop, along with his career, to new heights. A vivid portrait of hatred, darkness and self-doubt which has defined a generation, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” continues to serve as a model for what the ideal hip-hop album should look like. Saying that this album is the best album of the last fifty years, let alone the 21st century, would not be considered a stretch by any means. Obviously a landmark within the medium, Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” will go down in history as not only a turning point in the artist’s career but also for music making in general.