REVIEW: Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)
Man. Kanye West is really bummed out.
His mom died then he dumped his fiancée and then T-Pain gave him the keys to the Auto-Tune and friends, there you have 808s and Heartbreak.
TAKE HEED. This is not a hip hop record. This is a pop record. It is an eerie, angry documentation of a very specific time in West’s life, and it might actually be his most consistent release since 2004’s excellent College Dropout (which, if you’re not familiar with it, has one of the most flawless track successions EVER starting with 3 all the way to 13. Just sayin’).
Kanye had some sad melodies in his broken heart and so he wanted to sing, not rap. Relying on the aforementioned Auto-Tune not only allowed him to do this on every song, but also effectively gives the album its permeating cold, dark texture. Combined with the classic (and album namesake) Roland TR-808 drum machine chants, 808s and Heartbreak’s production is minimal but detailed, repetitive but melodic — disparate, yes, and not at all desperate. Musing entirely on love lost, Kanye isn’t sorry or pleading – he’s pissed. In the classic pop music post break-up fuck you, we only get West’s side of the story. He calls his ex out for being heartless, evil (Heartless), and a spoiled drama queen (RoboCop). Sort of a dick move, but hey, no one ever said Kanye wasn’t a dick.
It’s a little weird, this one. Weird and pretty great. 808s and Heartbreak gets 4.5 stupid sunglasses out of 5.