Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Music •••• Sound ••••


“People that tried to blackball me forgot about two things: my black balls.” So Kanye West notes with signature blunt bravado on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a collection as impressive for its sheer audacity as its unfocused but undeniable ambition. Listening to it in its near 70-minute entirety is akin to staring at a bank of video screens all tuned to different channels: Over an endlessly jarring swirl of guitars, keyboards, beats, samples, and (yes) cellos fighting for elbow room in your ears, West takes scattershot aim at assorted real and imagined enemies of his greatness — including, of course, himself: “I ordered the jerk / She said, ‘You are what you eat.’ ”

That he can, at the drop of an F-bomb, go from rewriting lyrics to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” (“Hell of a Life”) to singing — via Auto-Tune — an oddly touching ballad (“Lost in the World”) to handing the mike off to Chris Rock for a hilariously filthy riff that nearly steals the whole show (“Blame Game”), well, it’s all part of West’s indiscreet charm.

Besides, any rapper who can make the words seance, parents, and herons sound like they actually rhyme is okay by me.