With lyrics focusing on love and heartache, Kanye West’s latest album “808s and Heartbreak” shocked many. When he traded his flashy hip-hop attire for a gray plaid suit, it was clear this new album would be nothing like his first three.
To start, paralleling his new look is West’s change in production. Using only Roland TR-808 drums and synthesizers, West creates an experimental musical landscape that would never be expected with such limited tools. His album primarily features him singing with Auto-Tune (popularly used by T.-Pain), which had many hip-hop fans mocking his new approach.
Right from the start, one might be shocked to hear the slow, spacey track “Say You Will,” which may make the listener think of experimental music like Radiohead. His second single, “Heartless,” is the only one reminiscent of his hip-hop beats, even though he still sings with Auto-Tune.
Songs like “Paranoid” bring the listener back 25 years, with an electro beat you would never expect from the man who produced tracks on Jay-Z’s “ The Blueprint.
Even though “Heartbreak” is far from West’s earlier work, there are still songs for new hip-hop heads out there, with pieces on the album by Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy, and Lil Wayne (who also sang with Auto-Tune). Despite this, his lyrics are still quite different from anything he’s written before. After losing his mother and breaking up with his fiancee, West poured his sadness from these losses into this album.
“808s and Heartbreak” is West’s fourth CD to go platinum and is the highest debut of his career. Although the album has been criticized by some hip-hop magazines, many artists respect him for releasing something different and experimental. With a deep, cold, lonely sound, “808s and Heartbreak” is an emotional masterpiece.
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