After three quality hip hop albums (and 808s), comes Kanye’s IV, or OK Computer.
With all the hype, it certainly felt that way prior to release, and after listening, I dare say it is the case at this point. Although Kanye said his best work is yet to come.
Collaborations are numerous (including a couple of Wu-Tang members! Raekwon on “Gorgeous” and The RZA on “So Appalled”), and yet they all work perfectly, in that, it is hard to recognise everyone, and they blend and flow well. Raekwon almost sounds similar to Kanye on “Gorgeous”, while, The RZA verse on “So Appalled” very much stands out, but works with fellows guests Swizz Beats doing the chorus, and verses by Jay-Z, Pusha T, and Prynce Cy Hi.
“All of the Lights” may very well set a record for most guest spots on a hip hop track. Even if Rihanna, and Fergie are the most noticeable, along with those doing the chorus. Both Elton John and Kid Cudi’s voices are modified, so it is difficult to identify them without knowing. Alicia Keys’ part is just some whoa’s. Also on the track is The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, Tony Williams, and Elly Jackson supposedly. The “All of the Lights” interlude actually has a brief chord progression that reminds me of Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart”.
“Monster” again, is a track with numerous guests. Nicki Minaj’s rap is the highlight, she is at the top of her game, probably her best guest rap to this point. While Kanye does not seem to be rapping with as much passion as “Power”.
Along with the first track, “Dark Fantasy”, there is only two tracks that are only Kanye. And “Dark Fantasy” does feature other vocals if not as an official guest spot.
Some of my favourite tracks are not so much Kanye’s rapping, but the arrangements. The introductory track “Dark Fantasy” shines with its suspenseful choral singing parts, backed solely by piano. Similarly, “Gorgeous” has a nice guitar backed beat, featuring Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi).
One wonders how much of the album came about on account of his anger with SNL, of course, “Power”, sampling King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”. However the entire album has a big feel to it, much like “Power”, although maybe not as extravagant.
“Lost In The World” featuring Bon Iver feels like it brings the album down to earth somewhat. “Blame Game” featuring John Legend works, but the Chris Rock ending does not really seem necessary.
“Runaway” seems to be a good track, but it also seems to be Kanye throwing as many derogatory terms as possible, after that is over it does get better.
No doubt this album will be the talk of the year, and numerous people will hear it, of all demographics. And Kanye deserves plenty of credit (we should not feed his ego, even if it has got a tad smaller recently), however we cannot forget all the producers and guests. I’d love to see a making of this album, to know exactly how much credit should go to additional producers along with the guests. To hear Kanye do an album that is just him rapping, and produced by him would be a good barometer.
I would not call it perfect, it does seem very near flawless for the first nine or so tracks, I would say, Good Ass Job!