Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak

Band: Kanye West
Album: 808s and Heartbreak
Genre:  Hip Hop/Pop
Label: Roc-A-Fella/G.O.O.D./Def Jam

Tracks:
1. Say You Will
2. Welcome To Heartbreak
3. Heartless
4. Amazing
5. Love Lockdown
6. Paranoid
7. RoboCop
8. Street Lights
9. Bad News
10. See You In My Nightmares
11. Coldest Winter

The whole idea that the bigger something is, the harder it falls has never been more true than with Kanye West. The man who has flipped hip hop on it’s head has taken quite a few blows in the last year and it’s made a very apparent impact on his music. Form the trilogy of albums he completed with Graduation to now, Kanye has lost his main influence, his mother, and ended a long engagement. These matters of life, for lack of a better term, left West heartbroken and to deal, he did what came naturally, make music. The result of all this woe is the polarizing, but elegant 808’s and Heartbreaks that hits stores this week and will, in no time, once again change how we look at the pop and hip hop world.

Forget everything you think you know about Kanye West as this album is about as relatable to his prior work as carrots to beer nuts. This isn’t exactly club or top 40 hip hop,in fact, it barely touches on the genre of hip hop. This record is pop. Electronic pop with the occasional flow here or there. The singles, “Love Lockdown,” and, “Heartless,” both showcase exactly what I  about the new sound and showcase the whole disc quite well. However, I don’t think Kanye can release a bad single, so I know it’s hard to judge by just these tracks, but trust me, if you like them, you’ll like the rest.

From the near 7 minute opening track, “Say You Will,” West vents himself in lyrics of lost love, heart ache, and just wrong doing, but don’t expect the king of ego to start swooping his hair and crying. West’s pain is dealt is a style fitting the gentleman persona he gives off with beats that hit low and hard. Sometimes the  music is ridiculously simply in forms of construction, but West uses it like it’s an opus and carries it until it’s given him every ounce it can. Even tracks where West brings back his hip hop flows and introduces guests [“Amazing” and “See You In My Nightmares” for example], West still has a heavy heart and it lingers in the air. IT may be depressing, but it’s beautiful at the exact same time and that’s something only someone with the craft of Mr. West can provide.

It’s not all gold lining however. West has vocoder and autotune running rampant on the disc and it’s an effect that is not only getting old on the album, but in the current music world in general. sure,t he robotic voice is cool for awhile, but after a short period you just want the same guy who you are familiar with and not a filtered version. I did find it humorous that Lil Wayne, who appears on the album, finally stops using vocoder for his verse, but West continues to, at least one of them figured it out. Outside of the overall vocal work, there are a few slow points ont he disc, but as a whole I think winter has finally found its soundtrack. Even if you’re not a fan of West or heartbroken, 808s and Heartbreaks has some of the most incredible moments in music in 2008.  Kanye West is known for reinventing the wheel of music and this is no exception as it simply stands alone in the musical world. This is my soundtrack to winter, but even after the snow melts, no one will be able to do what Mr. West does.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
Grade: 8.5/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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