South Florida is Hockey Country | Limited Edition Championship CollectionSHOP NOW

Advertisement

Sunday Night Sample Special Edition- Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" Turns 10 Years Old Today

(Rather than just feature one single record tonight for Sunday Night Sample, I decided to do a feature on a monumental work that celebrated a big day)

Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy turned 10 years old today. It's worth an entire blog not just because it's one of the biggest rappers of all time's greatest work, but because it stands on its own as a near-perfect hip hop album. It's also the best album of the first decade of the century. 

What it lacks in definition and structure, it more than makes up for with vulnerability.

Following the VMA/Taylor Swift debacle and meltdown, Kanye went to Hawaii and disappeared from the public eye for a year while he worked relentlessly from a recording studio he leased out. Over that year he brought in other artists he planned to have on the album. Working like a mad scientist, he pushed some of the other artists to the point they became so sick of edits and retakes they decided to just pass. Other's Kanye spent hours and sometimes days working with, only to later change his mind and scrap their verse, or the whole song altogether, from the final cut.

One thing about MBDTF that's not debatable is how open and honest Kanye is. As much as his album that predated this one by two years, 808s and Hearbreak, was as well, MBDTF revealed a darker side of him and put his ego on full public display to be scrutinized.

Despite lowering his guard, he still managed to stand tough and take plenty of shots at his doubters and haters-

Fuck SNL and the whole cast
Tell them Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically, they can kiss my asshole
I'm an asshole? You niggas got jokes
You short-minded niggas' thoughts is Napoleon
My furs is Mongolian, my ice brought the goalies in
I embody every characteristic of the egotistic
He knows he's so fuckin' gifted
I just needed time alone with my own thoughts
Got treasures in my mind, but couldn't open up my own vault
My childlike creativity, purity, and honesty
Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts
Reality is catching up with me
Taking my inner child, I'm fighting for custody
With these responsibilities that they entrusted me
As I look down at my diamond-encrusted piece

- POWER

MBDTF was not just powerful and poetic verse wise in the way it vividly speaks on the dark side of fame and fortune, the production was arguably the best of Kanye's career. Which is saying a lot.

Personally, I think it's the best produced album I've ever heard period. (Holing up in a recording studio in Hawaii might just do that to you) He managed to manipulate hundreds of samples (King Crimson on “POWER”, Bon Iver on “Lost In The World”, and Gil Scott-Heron on “Who Will Survive In America”) with his original production and give it all an arena sound. 

The original vinyl release came with an entire artwork pullout featuring 5 different alternative covers as well as 3 LP's featuring different art.

American contemporary artist George Condo conceived the original artwork for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which depicts an armless phoenix straddling a nude likeness of West. Condo also created several alternative covers for the album, and his painting of a ballerina in a black tutu became the version sold in most stores. Though a total of five original artworks were included in the album’s insert, the phoenix aligns most closely with the album’s confrontational pose and racially charged, sexually explicit subject matter.

Standout tracks on the album -

Dark Fantasy

The album's opener features a sample of “In High Places”

along with a spoken word version of Roald Dahl’s "Revolting Rhymes" (Revolting Rhymes is a collection of Roald Dahl poems published in 1982. A parody of traditional folk tales in verse, Dahl gives a re-interpretation of six well-known fairy tales, featuring surprise endings in place of the traditional happily-ever-after finishes)

from Nicki Minaj.

Just a wild example of the library of sounds and ideas in Kanye's brain. 

POWER

The most standout sample on the album can be found in power. Kanye took the hook from a 1960's British progressive rock song, King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”

Advertisement

Again, Kanye is a freak show when it comes to his musical history knowledge and diversity. Kanye also claims that "Power" was his weakest lead single of his career. (guy is a madman)

(If you really want to have your mind blow, watch this video on just how much of a musical genius the guy is)

All Of The Lights

The thing I love about this song is that Kanye lined up some of the biggest artists in the world to contribute to it, yet mentioned none of them on the track credits. The song features vocals from John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Elton John, Drake, Kid Cudi, and Rihanna. Banans. The song has also stood the test of time as it's as popular today as it was 10 years ago.

A fun fact about this album was that an alternate version of it leaked 10 years ago as well. With a big catch. It was locked in a zip file that nobody could figure out the password for. 

It was reportedly hacked from the email account of director Hype Williams' manager.

The “recordforhype” version of the album contains several songs that didn’t make the final cut; songs like “The Joy” and “Chain Heavy” were eventually released as G.O.O.D. Friday tracks. There are new instrumentals in the form of the songs “Sweat On My Face” and “Holding Me Back,” as well as several new lyrics that were changed for the final release. Producer S1 later revealed on Instagram that he produced “Sweat On My Face,” and that the song originally featured Yasiin Bey:

Kanye also sings the chorus for “Blame Game” instead of John Legend, and this version of “Monster” doesn’t have JAY-Z’s verse. Nicki is missing from the “Dark Fantasy” intro, too. However, the “recordforhype” version doesn’t depart significantly from the final release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy other than being rougher around the edges.

This past July somebody FINALLY cracked the password by guessing it was “wewantmoney”.

Advertisement

Monster

"Monster" features Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver. The song contains an atmospheric, drum-heavy composition, and the best verse of Nicki Minaj's career.

Runaway

Kanye's greatest work of his career so far. And he knew it. Which is why he went to the trouble of stretching it 9 minutes long, and also the reason he produced a 34 minute long video of it.

If you're a psycho about Kanye and/or just super baked. Kanye's full length feature "Runaway" is a great watch.

The echoing piano riff intro, followed by the vocoder Kanye solo and the echo into an abyss in the background separate this song from the norm right from the beginning. It's beautifly haunting. The songs theme is that money, power, and sex aren't all as great as they're thought to be. In fact, they're ruinous. 

The piano, the echoing voice in the background, the distortion on his singing, the vocoder solo: every single element of this track is spine-tingling, hauntingly beautiful. Combine that with Pusha’s verse and it becomes Greek tragedy rap: it takes the clichéd ideas of power, sex, money and removes all the glamour from them. It's a deep and thorough examination of Kanye's insecurity and vulnerability.

Advertisement

The song is much more complex than just a commentary on his relationship fuck ups. 

Kanye is a pessimist and perfectionist: he focuses on the negative as opposed to the positive, never feeling something is good enough – including this girl.

Recognizing he’s not perfect (his arrogance has always been present), Kanye’s aware that his obnoxiousness was never viewed as “menacing” until he snatched the microphone from America’s Sweetheart, Taylor Swift. While “Runaway” is a public apology for Kanye’s personality, the song further implies that he can’t change the way he is – the world will have to learn to live with Kanye, or run away.

Before the song's premiere at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, it generated substantial public interest due to what had happened the year prior at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. West's performance at its premiere received positive reviews, with the full song being released online on October 4, 2010. 

The song debuted and peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at position 12.

Pusha T has stated: 

I wrote “Runaway” four times—and what he does not know to this day is that I was going through a relationship scandal in my life. So this man is asking me to write a song about a relationship and to say that I’m the biggest douchebag ever. He’s telling me, “Yo, you need to be more douchebag. We need more douchebag!” I didn’t want to say to him, “Dog, I don’t know if I even have douchebag in me right now.” I’ve been jammed up, and it’s hard for me to even tap into that part, because I’m remorseful. [Laughs.]

Producer Pete Rock added:

[Kanye] played “Runaway"—and as soon as I heard the drums come in, I just started laughing. He used my drums from Mecca and the Soul Brother! I used these drums in an interlude before this record called “The Basement,” and those drums come on before the song. I never heard anybody make a song the way he made it out of those drums. I thought that was genius.

Just another ridiculously genius sample from Kanye

The song also samples the drums from The Backyard Heavies - Expo '83

Kanye's listed co-producer on the record, Emile Haynie, said,

That song is just the perfect example of the brilliance of Kanye West as a producer. And I got to witness that dude’s genius. I was lucky enough to go out to Hawaii to work on Cudi’s album Man On The Moon II. We decided to go out there because Kanye was working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and we’re all kind of a team.

The way that works is that I was working on Cudi’s album, and it’s all very communal. It’s Kanye’s studio, and Cudi would be there, and Kanye’s whole team would be there, and everybody who’s at the studio does music.

It was late one night, and we were hanging out, and Kanye asked me if I had any beats, and I started playing him some beats. Pretty low, no big deal, we were just chilling playing some beats. I didn’t know if I had anything that great, because his album’s production was coming out so fucking next level. I had some beats, but I was already in the process of working on songs from scratch, but I was like, ‘Yeah I got some stuff, I’ll play you some ideas.’

It was pretty amazing to watch. He heard the beat once, then asked the guy to play it one more time, and then was just like, ‘Okay, put it in Pro Tools.’ And when he said that, the room was like, ‘Oh shit.’

He probably had listened to the beat for four minutes, and got in the booth, and almost verbatim to what’s on the song today, just did it. I don’t know if he wrote it in his head in those four minutes, but he just got in the booth and was like, ‘Yeah I always find, yeah I always find somethin’ wrong.’ And almost the whole song just came out. 

The lyrics and the concept were what they were, and that’s when the Kanye West genius producer mode came in to play. He totally reproduced the record, and kept working on it and working on it, along with Jeff Bhasker, who played the piano line and played a lot of the keys on it. He’s one of my favorite producers too.

Those two guys really went in on the production. I was upstairs doing Cudi’s thing, and I just kept hearing the song just get better and better and better. Kanye is a super producer in the truest sense of the word. He turned it into the this epic song. It’s just a beautiful record. It’s a masterpiece.

He always is like, ‘Thank you for “Runaway.” Thank you for sparking that.’ He’s very cool about that. He’s very appreciative. I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re the one who made it this amazing record! Thank you for making my beat, that was pretty good, into this amazing song!’

Phenomenal album in every way. 

Nate blogged earlier today about Kanye writing the lyrics to "Lost In The World" in a birthday card for Kim Kardashian. 

Kanye fanatics have all already seen this, but if you're a fan, or just love music and interesting things - check this video out.

Advertisement