I love Kanye West.
Without Kanye, I wouldn't be here. He inspires me and nothing he's done has inspired me more than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. College Dropout will always be number one, my oldest friend, but it’s MBDTF I spend most of my time with these days. I’ve debated getting a MBDTF tattoo. The artwork is the background on my phone. I basically met my girlfriend through this album. Kanye is my favorite artist because he puts so much of himself into the music and Dark Twisted Fantasy is the perfect example.
At the time of its release, Kanye was one of the most controversial figures in pop culture (not much has changed) and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the perfect representation of that Kanye. It’s loud, brash, ostentatious and over indulgent. It’s unapologetic and in your face but also transfixing and beautiful. Kanye set out to make an “epic” and he succeeded. There are shades of the old, sample-heavy Kanye—“Devil In a New Dress” is one of the greatest songs ever—but this album was unlike anything Kanye, or any hip-hop artist for that matter, had ever made. It was quintessentially Kanye yet it was brand new. This album challenged me and changed my perspective on what music is and should be. Despite countless listens in countless environments, this album still gives me chills. It makes my blood rush. It reaches out and grabs me in a way no other Kanye album has.
So that’s why my head exploded when I read his recent quote from his recent SHOWstudio interview:
"There's true moments of genius, then there are moments of looking through the archives and putting shit together. So many people rate Dark Fantasy as my best album, but Yeezus and 808s are so much stronger. Dark Fantasy to me is... almost like, an apology record. 'Power' was the least progressive song that I've ever had as a first single.... least challenging."
My favorite album of all-time is being diminished by the artist who made it? Was I just Geniusing this album? Applying all this significance and meaning to something that had none? Was Rolling Stone wrong? Was Pitchfork? Was DJBooth? More importantly, was I wrong?
I’m calling bullshit, Kanye.
I went back and listened to all three albums and MBDTF soars above the others, and for the record, I love 808s. "Power" is less challenging than "Can't Tell Me Nothing" or "Otis"? What is he basing this on? Influence? Just because the album didn't cause a paradigm shift like 808s doesn't mean it didn't have a broad, expansive reach. Nate Ruess, lead singer of Fun talked about how Dark Twisted Fantasy influences their "Some Nights" album; you know, the album with a little song called "We Are Young" on it. Is that not influence?
I don't want to get caught up in comparing and contrasting the albums and their impact, I don't have to. This is about Dark Twisted Fantasy and Dark Twisted Fantasy alone. What bothers me more is that Kanye is revising history, seemingly playing the contrarian role, simply taking the opposing viewpoint because it’s controversial. Shit, later in the SHOWstudio interview (the 1:26:15 mark to be exact) he says he always tries to find unexpected answers.
MBDTF is one of Kanye's masterpieces, and you don't have to take my word for it, just look at what Kanye himself has said about Dark Twisted Fantasy throughout the years. When you do this new, “apology” review just doesn’t carry any weight.
“Dark Fantasy can be considered to be perfect. I know how to make perfect, but that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to crack the pavement and make new grounds sonically and in society, culturally.” - Zane Lowe Interview Part 1.
“We sowed that fabric so tight you know like for eight, nine months Pete Rock, and No I.D., and Q-tip everyone coming down to Hawaii, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, we like textured – and Jeff Bhasker we created those textures collectively, you know like I would be eating breakfast with Ross in the morning, and just come up with a line and …these are really great people that came together to make that and where I – and I learned that process a bit from working on [close], because it’s that communal process a lot of times.” - Zane Lowe Interview Part 4
Aside from calling the album “perfect,” read (below) how he talks about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Kanye himself says that the start of his collaboration period, the one most of music is currently still in, came from Dark Twisted Fantasy, he goes out of his way to talk about it. Listen to his voice, the ways it's filled with nostalgic passion. Listen to the stories, breakfast with Rick Ross or basketball with Common. Listen to the names: Pete Rock, Q-Tip. Something doesn’t add up. Now he's talking about just “putting shit together,” but then he was talking about flying out some of the most legendary names in hip-hop to Hawaii to work on this album. To me, that sounds much more like the construction of a “perfect” album, not an album that was the result simply “putting shit together.”
“Everything I do I'm trying to make it the best it's ever ever been. Ever. If you ain't goign for that I don't know what you are going for? I think people respect the game to the point where the can't improve on it anymore. They don't even want to put their signature on it. I got a lot of respect for the game butI’m still making music. I’m going to make the best of hip-hop albums of all time.” - Kanye Ustream
Now that’s the Kanye West I fell in love with. That’s the one I hear on Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s the one I see when I open my vinyl copy of the album. The one I see in the custom George Condo art. The one I see when running my hands across the gold-plated tracklist and the one I hear as “All of the Lights” plays in the background.
MBDTF is my fantasy, it’s everything I need from an album and then some. I don't know why Kanye said what he said, I won't even begin to guess at why he says most of the things he does, but I know in my heart to of hearts My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of, if not, Kanye’s best album and one of the best albums ever and nobody, not you, not Twitter, not even the Kanye himself, can tell me otherwise.