Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kanye West and his Magical Autotune

Say what you will about KANYE WEST. Is he an arrogant blowhard? Yes. Is he an insecure narcissist who needs attention constantly to feel appreciated? Yes. Is he a creative force that changed the course of hip-hop like few others? Hell, yes he did. Kanye could have gone the path of so many of his colleagues and churned out club banging hits about sleeping with strange women and taking stranger drugs (or vice versa). Instead, he chose to explore his musical boundaries and has slowly taken his music away from rote hip-hop to something altogether different.

Two songs from his newest album, 'My Dark Twisted Fantasy", highlight just how much his music has changed. Starting with the previous album, "808's and Heartbreaks", Kanye has added vocoders and autotunes to his vocals and distorted the beats and synth lines warping them into almost unrecognizable sonic tapestries. Now he extends that to "Runaway" to include strings and other instrumentation to create an orchestral song of defiance for his critics. "Runaway" is cinematic in scope and sound and from his live performances of the song, almost cathartic in nature.

Then there is "Lost in The World" where our mercurial one teams with another tortured soul, folk troubadour BON IVER. Now rap crossovers are not new, but even this paring seemed odd at first. But you can see why they work so well together. Both write songs about despair and loneliness and both favor their material with a bit of macabre sense of humor. Here the song comes off as part appeal for understanding and part cry for salvation. I think I have played it four times writing this and still find new things about it that I enjoy.

So yes, West is all the things described above but what he is not is another boring MC.

(mp3) Kanye West -- Runaway (courtesy of TSURURADIO)

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