Review: Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 10:58 PM

Artist: Kanye West
Album: 808s & Heartbreak
Release Date: 11.25.08

808’s & Heartbreak just may be the definitive album of Kanye’s career – sentimental, confused, and strong yet vulnerable. This is Kanye’s most personal, introspective and most reflective album to date. He raised eyebrows when he sang the album’s introductory single Love Lockdown at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, and raised them again when it was revealed that the entire album would be sung with the assistance of the Auto-Tune device. Contrary to the popular school of thought, it works quite well on this project as the themes and overall sound of the entire album are structured around the device creating a balance that gives his music that signature Kanye characteristic – boldness. In the wake of his mother’s tragic death, his breakup from his ex-fiancée, and a string of media stunts, Kanye bears his soul through his music – the result could be considered Kanye’s magnum opus.

As for my top picks: the production on Robocop is among the best on the album; it incorporates synthesized harmonies and hydraulic robotic sound clips to accompany West’s fed-up-with-your-shit lyrics. Streetlights is one of the more vulnerable records, and really gives insight to the sad undertones of the rest of the album. The elements of his human emotion are on display all throughout this album. You can hear his frustration on Welcome To Heartbreak, his resilience on Amazing featuring Young Jeezy, and his rage on See You In My Nightmares with Lil Wayne. On no other track is West’s pain felt more than my personal favorite: Coldest Winter, written for his mother, the late Dr. Donda West. The syncopated tribal beats from the 808 beneath his piercing vocals; this song was born in heartbreak: “Memories made in the coldest winter, Goodbye my friend; I won’t ever love again…” The album closes with Pinocchio Story, a live freestyle from Kanye’s concert in Singapore. Though personal in nature, the closing track tends to drift into a gratuitous rant at times.

After giving this album a few listens, I dare to say this is the best album of Kanye’s career, and definitely one of the better releases of the year. Although he claims he “just wants to be a real boy” this album shows us that he already is, and that his celebrity status doesn’t exempt him from the heartaches we all face. This album is not only recommended, it’s a must-have. This is an appropriate follow-up to Graduation, because that’s usually where real life begins…

Related Posts:
Video: Kanye West - Heartless

Love Lockdown


Sound-Savvy Drop: 808 refers to the TR-808, an early model drum machine, largely used in the creation of demo recordings.

1 Comment

  1. This is indeed an opus, I predict big things from this album. I do think most won't understand the rawness behind this release and will dismiss Kanye as being showy.

    Posted on November 24, 2008 at 11:39 PM


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