This weekend marks five years since Kanye West unleashed his magnum opus ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’, the album that helped establish him as pioneer of modern hip-hop. NME placed it 21st in our Greatest Albums of All Time list, Pitchfork gave it an ultra-rare 10.0 rating upon release and it won Kanye another Grammy. West blended soul, rock and electro to craft his most consistent and boundary-pushing record to date, successfully bridging the auto tuned melancholy of predecessor ‘808 & Heartbreak’ and the primitive electronic noises on it’s sequel, ‘Yeezus’.
The result of the globetrotting recording process showcases West at his most vulnerable. The nine-minute-epic ‘Runaway’ is West at his most transparent; he – gasp – even concedes his flaws, “I always find something wrong/You’ve been putting with my shit just way too long”. ‘All of The Lights’ and ‘Monster’ catapults listeners into the lifestyle of excess that came pre-Kimye, and ‘Power’ exploits the thunderous bass as West addresses critics and being called a jackass by President Obama (“They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation/well that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation”).
In a 2013 New York Times interview, West described the record as a ‘backhanded apology” later adding that his mindset during recording was one of desperation; “Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.” In hindsight, it’s incredible to acknowledge that West felt like he had to prove himself to listeners. His complete discography is eye-bogglingly impressive, and though while we continue to pine for his next record ‘SWISH’, the swaggering beast of a record only strengthened the throttle West has on the title of ‘Greatest living rock star’.