Kanye West 808s and Heartbreak

Kanye West 808s and Heartbreak
When word first surfaced that Kanye West was releasing a new record with Autotuned vocals, you could literally cue the mass eye rolling. However, based on lead single "Love Lockdown” and the album artwork that surfaced, it was clear it wasn’t going to be an album of Kanye posted up at a crowded bar propositioning females with "buy you a drank?” With the break-up with his fiancé and the death of his mother, it was inconceivable that West, who wears his heart on his sleeve, wouldn’t explore his emotional state. Predictably, this runs the whole gamut of defiance ("Amazing”), angry finger pointing ("Heartless”) and self-doubt ("Streetlights”), set against a predominantly downbeat sound palette directly contrasting the exuberance of Graduation. On the yearning "Welcome to Heartbreak,” West reflects, "Chased the good life my whole life long/ Look back on my life/ And my life gone/ Where did I go wrong?’ Like most of 808, this rudimentary yet revealing couplet is hardly West at his most eloquent, but how he says things, rather than what he says, has never been more applicable — refer to the spiteful enunciation of the word "that” in the chorus of "See You in My Nightmares” for proof. And the Autotune? Well, if the use of the tool was to provide West a shield given all the emotional vulnerability on display, it’s a successful ploy. Added to the trademark percussion referred to in the title and Kanye’s apparently unfettered appetite for atmospheric production, which inevitably but only occasionally recalls the ’80s (in a good way), it’s still evident that despite his best efforts to envelope himself in the music, he further confirms the truism that it’s lonely at the top. (Universal)