“In some ways, [this album is] the culmination of [his] first four albums, but it does not merely draw characteristics from each one of them. The 13 tracks, eight of which are between five and nine minutes in length, sometimes fuse them together simultaneously. Consequently, the sonic and emotional layers are often difficult to pry apart and enumerate.”
What was good about (I think, specifically) Graduation and 808s & Heartbreak, here coalesce to form a holistic view of West, a view only bolstered by his latest media shenanigans. Beautiful...Fantasy is just completely Kanye - these 13 tracks are what he is about, inside and out. It's raw and even embarrassing at times. When, on “Runaway,” he claims to have taken a picture of his genitalia and emailed it to a woman, you get the idea that, so long as the lyric is not a prophesy about a aging NFL quarterback, that it is something that Kanye has actually done. Sad, but that is who he is, so “runaway from me, baby. Runaway!,” he pleads. Pitchfork elaborates:
“[W]ithout his exploding self-worth-- itself a cyclical reaction to the self-doubt so much of his music explores-- there would be no Twisted Fantasy. "Every superhero needs his theme music," he says on "POWER", and though he's far from the virtuous paragons of comic book lore, he's no less complex. In his public life, he exhibits vulnerability and invincibility in equal measure, but he's just as apt at villainy-- especially here.”
Kanye knows that he is fallen and so has to prop himself up. He has to build something out of nothing. And see, I don’t think that that is lost on us. Yes, the tracks are well-crafted and the bass is thumping, but what makes the album so appealing is that Kanye is effectively starving himself to death on top of a pillar in the town square. It’s a spectacle, an aestheticization of his own destruction.
This idea, I have also argued, is why Lady Gaga is so attractive. Just as Gaga “left her head and her heart on the dancefloor,” so to is Kanye baring himself, multitude of flaws and all. And, let’s not forget, Gaga already acted out her own death in a music video. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kanye’s next move echoed those impulses.
It’s said that the best music is that which does not bore the listener, and as I listen to wider varieties of music, the more I find this to be, in fact, completely true. Many things can make music interesting: new sounds, new rhythms, quirky lyrics, etc, but I would argue that most important is the ability to show your personality through your music. David Bowie can change with the times and yet still be himself. Vernon Reid can smoooothly transition from a twenty-something shredder in neon tights to the anchor of a free-form jazz/rock hybrid collaboration. Lady Gaga is a wacked-out plastic disco antibarbie. Each transition inevitably shows in their music, and this is what keeps it interesting. Ultimately, Beautiful...Fantasy is a solid record because it is inseparable from Kanye himself, and this is precisely why we are attracted to it. We aren’t really listening to slick production and bi-polar lyrics; we’re listening to a functionally insane man make music. And functionally insane men are interesting to us.