#3. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Before for all the hype, the outrageous tweets, the award shows, the hollywood scandal, the talk show appearances, the breakups, the breakdowns, and everything else that makes Kanye West the ridiculously obsessed over popular culture icon that he is today, Kanye was once known for making soul-sampling, perfectly sequenced, orchestral hip hop and having a knack for delivering some of the most memorable lines in rap. However, after Kanye released his breakup Autotune album 808's and Heartbreaks, it seemed as if the culminating work that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy might never happen. The slow unveiling of how serious Kanye was about his comeback came in the form of his G.O.O.D. Friday releases, one track a week until the album was released. The effect was a snowballing buildup of hype that exploded in an album with a reputation that proceeded itself. But removed from all that, the truth is that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is everything that you've heard it is. It is a masterpiece of conceptual complexity, enveloping the persona of Kanye West and distorting those fragile lines between reality and fantasy.

Then again, Kanye West's music has always embraced the controversial spiritual battles of the inner soul. The struggle continues here as he triumphantly claims "No one man should have all that power" as his theme song, while also referencing his own suicide in the same song. Touching on fame, sex, lust, glory, relationships, and identity, the themes trace their way through moments of both painfully honest Kanye reality ("Runaway") and bizarre, explicitly vulgar fantasy ("Hell of a Life"), as well as just about everything in between. From the opening fairty-tale monologue that Nicki Minaj delivers with such theatrical perfection to the final political rantings of Gil Scott-Heron, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a perfectly crafted album that is made to be heard front to back. As the album pushes forward to its climax, a fantasy story about being cheated on in "All of the Lights" becomes a reality in "Blame Game", Kanye rapping "Stick around and some feelings might surface". The heartfelt breakup song is then interrupted by a completely inappropriate monologue by Chris Rock, almost like Kanye letting his Twitter-esque, stream-of-thought consciousness blur the line of what's real and what's not. By the time you arrive in the middle of an urbanized version of Bon Iver's "Woods" sample from a song called "Lost in the World", as vocalists shout "Run from the light!/Run from the night!/Run for your life!", you won't be sure if you've arrived at Kanye's hyperrealist redemption or his final demise. In the end, it doesn't really matter though, because you won't be able to keep from applauding at his relentless work ethic and creativity in what is most certainly the album he was made to make. In My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West places himself at the top of the artistic and pop culture world, proving that he can use his dark, twisted, persona to create something that transcends even his own fantasies.

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