When I heard Kanye West had another album coming like the rest of the world I was expecting high pitch sped-up samples with clever chops with the usual list of appearances. However, kanye has come back with a totally different sound for his newest offering. Sampling and chopping is still present but since his albums have progressed so has his creativeness.
From the first single you could tell that Kanye was taking to a new approach when he begins the song with a daft punk sample. “Stronger” samples ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ in the background, while being covered and lead by thick and rich synth. It is then topped by strong drums and Kanye’s usual brag raps. For fans of Kanye’s old stuff it will take a little bit to embrace it though will soon see it’s a strong song and just shows his diversity. The second song to be heard before the release “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” also is a new attempt by Mr. West. With trademark dirty south drums and light synth, you see Kanye appealing to down south fans while keeping his intact with what sounds to be sampling though really vocals from Connie Mitchell. The up and coming single “Good Life” which features the surprising appearance from T-Pain again is balance between new and old. Sampling “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”by Michael Jackson is a sample not new for West as he used it before for a Memphis Bleek song; Kanye uses new pieces while adding heavy synthesis over them. The song again sounds more down south sound while adding a different style to it.
The mixture kanye has bought is more hit then miss in my opinion. Songs such as “I Wonder” works, where it combines both samples of vocals and piano with synthesis and drums which sound very played with. It also works with“Flashing Lights” where strings and synths are used together and is finished off with Dwele’s smooth vocals.“Champion” samples Steeley Dan where he pays tribute to a few people with hits of synths here and there. “Drunk and Hot girls” however does really work and you are reaching for the skip button. It’s a shame as it was the only real promising appearance with the almighty Mos Def.
Apart from T-pain, Dwele and Mos Def there are some more guests however none the listener would expect. For“Barry Bonds” the man of the moment Lil’ Wayne joins Kanye over an animated sounding beat to brag. Chris Martin of Coldplay sings the hook to the “Homecoming” where he metaphors Chicago as a women which has reminisces of Common’s I Used To Love You especially as the first line is borrowed from his song. The beat is nicely created with piano and hard drums.
Kanye has also teamed up with Premo to create “Everything I Am” where vocals, scratching and sharp sampled piano hits makes this deep song. This is what the fans expected more of Kanye. “The Glory” which samples Laura Nyro and has strikes of strings layered on top of it is also what I feel is more expected from Mr. West.
The album hasn’t really got many topics as his previous albums though “Big Brother” finishes of the album well. Over a guitar, bass, drums and synths Kanye West pays tribute to the living legend “Jay-z” thinking of him as a big brother.
In all this album gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Even thought there is only one real bad track the album is far from perfect. Kanye has brought a different style to his last ones and progressed and tried a lot more risky things. Lyricism is still at an alright standard though doesn’t really amaze.
This album isn’t for everyone though is worth a try.