808's & Heartbreak (2008)
|Artist: Kanye West|
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Following a 2008 of misfortune (the death of his mother, the dissolution of his engagement), hip-hop's enigmatic impresario Kanye West returns, a bit more somber, slightly more urgent, but still pushing boundaries, on his fourth record, 808S & HEARTBREAK. From the first track, the sprawling, drum-n-bass-propelled "Say You Will," and from the ubiquitous lead single, the propulsive "Love's Lockdown," it is clear that West is venturing further into the electronic sound he explored on GRADUATION.|
|West has decreed that all beats on 808S be derived from the Roland TR-808 for a more "tribal feel," and he distorts his voice at will, producing a surreal sound, one bordering on a robot having a mental breakdown. On this adventurous album, West is King Lear's Edgar, a sharp-minded philosopher lost in the forest of despair, unsure how to react, how to perceive reality. That's not to say that he's simply wallowing, even on the most despondent "Welcome to Heartbreak," a tribute to his mother. While 808S is an album that may be challenging at times, it's also often hypnotic and unquestionably catchy--basically, everything one might want from a Kanye West album.|
Associated Artists and Works
|Release Date : 12/01/2008|
|Original Release Date : 2008|
|Catalog ID : 1787279|
|Label : Roc-A-Fella (USA)|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00602517872790|
- 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Thankfully, there are those 808s. Kanye constructed the songs using a classic Roland TR-808 drum machine, and the results are a pleasant shock: stark, spacey tracks, which owe far more to Eighties electro and synth pop than anything on hip-hop radio."
- "[H]is flair for wordplay remains gratifyingly intact....He offers this glimpse of the soul beneath the swagger, and we like him better for it." -- Grade: A-
- "[H]is lyrics he tempers with humour, and these enormous tracks, built like New Orleans blues-like dirges, have the soft touches of piano and chords given the full sustain."
- "Sonically, West pushes the envelope by relying on the drum machine from which the album takes its title, as well as the ever-popular vocoder."
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "808S AND HEARTBREAKS' bravery makes it compelling...it feels honest....It is his most fascinating, and bewildering, record to date."
- 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] chunk of emotional permafrost -- a beautiful soundtrack for a long, harsh winter....He's found a way to turn numbness into art."
- "Given the reduced palette with which Kanye is working, it's amazing there is such a spectrum of styles and influences covered."
"I'm depressed," says Kanye West.
Strange, perhaps, for a 28-year-old who is arguably the most important creative force in hip-hop music today, recently named to Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, but West -- the perpetual underdog -- is still fighting for his life, currently pitched in heated battle with the latest 800-pound gorilla in the corner: Himself. "It's hard when people are depending on you to have an album that's not just good, but inspired," continues West. "I mean, my music isn't just music -- it's medicine. I want my songs to touch people, to give them what they need. Every time I make an album, I'm trying to make a cure for cancer, musically. That stresses me out!"
If "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," the stunning first single from Late Registration, Kanye's forthcoming sophomore effort on Roc-A-Fella Records, is any indication, the gorilla should be stressed.
"Diamonds" is signature Kanye West: Over a heavy groove and sped-up soul sample, courtesy of Shirley Bassey's classic "Diamonds Are Forever," Kanye's unusual, conversational flow sounds sharper than ever, weaving his offbeat witticisms into a paean, a love-letter for The R.O.C. Sweeping and cinematic, the track's rich instrumentation -- a product of his collaboration with producer-extraordinaire Jon Brion -- and dense subject matter is a unexpected first look into West's new project. And he wouldn't have it any other way.
Kanye West -- the self-proclaimed "International Asshole" -- has been inviting, confronting, and overcoming challenge since the beginning.
No matter who you are or where you lived in 2004 -- if you owned a radio, television, computer or CD player, you felt Kanye West's presence. Since the release of his 3 million selling, critically acclaimed-debut The College Dropout, the Chicago-born 27 year old rapper/producer/hip-hop icon has been at the top of the charts and at the top of his game. From the red carpet of the 47th Grammys -- where he topped all nominees with a historic ten nods and took home awards for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best R&B song -- to the millions of albums sold, a sold-out stadium tour with Usher, and his ubiquitous presence on MTV, BET, CNN, and radio stations nationwide, West grew from being an artist to watch to an artist you experience.