808s and Heartbreak

Kanye West

I hated this album before I heard a note. Kanye does autotune? I wouldn’t piss on T-Pain if he was on fire, and now I have to listen to Kanye singing for an hour?

It’s one of the albums of the year.

Part of it is America’s voyeuristic celebrity culture that I accept and “feel” this album so absolutely. The foldout poster of West kissing his recently deceased mother makes your heart feel like that pictured on the cover — deflated, broken, useless. This was an album Kanye had to make. This is a 50-minute exorcism, pushing the demons and skeletons far out of the closet, in full view of all who choose to look. Emo as hell, and, at times, a hip-hop version of The Cure’s Disintegration. Despite this, Heartbreak is beautiful.

I’ve asked myself if I would feel this way if anyone else had made this record, without knowing the true-life drama behind the album and its creator. I dare you to listen, really listen, and draw the same conclusion.

Rare and difficult is the achievement of taking the most current of pop culture clichés and turning it into a risk, a vulnerability. Equally rare is turning vulnerability into a stunning victory.