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“I see that man with the cane but I won’t let him sit”
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REVIEW: Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)
Posted on November 28, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
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.
REVIEW: Kanye West – Live in Toronto, May 21, 2008
Posted on May 23, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Playing the part of space cowboy, Kanye West hauled his Glow In the Dark circus into the Molson Amphitheatre Wednesday night. And in true Kanye fashion, the futuristic theme of his set was hinged on him being needed to save the planet as, naturally, the best and brightest star in the galaxy. These are actual lines that his talking spaceship said to him. Yes, a talking spaceship. Not unlike KITT from Knightrider.
Her name was Jane (aww!) and throughout the 90-minute set, her job was to motivate Kanye to keep fighting the good fight in the face of haters, gold diggers, and a general assortment of negative influences who want to keep him down, or, in this case, lost in space. Did I mention that the stage looked like rough outer space planet terrain? With an IMAX screen showing fire, stars, and desert skies? And giant, descending glowing orbs? Oh, and an elevated stage? How it didn’t seem bloated or obnoxious, I don’t know. Must have been the magic.
Despite being the only person running around the set, Kanye filled the stage. When he’s up there, he’s working. He’s focused and serious… but I guess he was trying to save the planet. That’s pretty important stuff.
Lupe Fiasco was probably awesome, but I didn’t get there in time to see him. Apparently he only played four songs, though he did close the show with Kanye, coming out for his part in “Touch the Sky,” so I saw all I needed to see. Ladies Love Cool Pharrell and the rest of N.E.R.D. pretty much broke the stage both with their bass rattle, and with their awesomeness. And as much as I was excited to see Rhianna, she cheaped out and did a typical medley of hits, both hers and others (notably snippets from Lauryn Hill and M.I.A., the latter of which got maybe the biggest applause of RhiRhi’s entire set). More magic ensued when she sang “Umbrella” and everyone had umbrellas, because it was raining! You can’t make that stuff up.
It wouldn’t be a true Kanye experience unless he went on a crazy rant, which he did before leaving the stage for the night. He talked about how people don’t often like him because they’re afraid of his realness. He encouraged us all to be all we can be and to stand tall in the face of our very own haters. And when leaving the show, we were all handed Kanye-made books called “Thank You and You’re Welcome,” which were full of inspirational quotes like, “Believe in your flyness, conquer your shyness.” It was pure, Kanye West-ified magic.