Let's have a toast for the assholes
Let's have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them I know"
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is American rapper and musician Kanye West's fifth album, released on November 22, 2010. The album was initially planned as a continuation of his trilogy of college-based albums (The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation) to be named Good-Ass Job, but the concept was eventually discarded.
The story behind its creation is now something of music legend. By the end of 2009, Kanye was likely the single most hated man in American pop culture on account of him infamously interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In the face of the titanic public backlash and negative media coverage, the latter of which disgusted him particularly, Kanye cancelled a scheduled tour with Lady Gaga for his previous album 808s & Heartbreak without explanation, instead going on a self-imposed exile in Oahu, Hawaii.
The album was recorded across 2009 and 2010 primarily at Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, where Kanye block-booked the three session rooms indefinitely and worked practically around the clock, with additional sessions at Electric Lady Studios and Platinum Sound Recording in New York and Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank, with the help of a long list of rappers, producers, singers, engineers, and session musicians (more than ninety!). Alongside single releases, the album was marketed through a weekly series of free music releases entitled GOOD Fridays alongside a 35-minute short film named after the track "Runaway".
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy received rave reviews, with critics applauding the album's musical range, production and thematic material. It was a go-to for the #1 spot of many publications' year-end lists, and has gone on to be considered one of the best albums of the 2010s and of all time, with individual songs like "All of the Lights", "Runaway", "Power", and "Monster" taking equally high positions in song rankings.
The album won three Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album, as well as Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("All of the Lights"). However, there was mass controversy over the album not being nominated for Album of the Year alongside Watch the Throne (Kanye's collab album with Jay-Z), which many felt was an Award Snub. Kanye has stated that this was his own doing due to releasing the two albums in the same year.
The album was listed at #17 in Rolling Stone's most recent (September 2020) list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, making it the second highest-placing hip-hop album on the list (behind It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy at #15), as well as the highest-placing album from the 21st century. Its also the album with one of the biggest jump between the last time they updated the list in 2012, where it was #353. It also got an incredibly rare initial score rating of 10/10 from Pitchfork, making it one of only 12 albums in the site's history to achieve that rating.
- "Dark Fantasy"
- "All of the Lights" (Interlude)
- "All of the Lights"
- "So Appalled"
- "Devil in a New Dress"
- "Hell of a Life"
- "Blame Game"
- "Lost in the World"
- "Who Will Survive in America?"
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Tropes:
- Album Filler: "Blame Game" is stretched up to seven minutes, due to comedian Chris Rock delivering a telephone conversation with the supposed past lover of Kanye West, which goes on for two and a half minutes, full with profanity and sexual comments. This is amusing to listen to the first two times you play the song, but can get rather tedious afterwards. Arguably justified, though - it's the phone conversation Kanye refers to in his last few lines.
- Auto-Tune: This album uses it in a great example of Tropes Are Tools. "Runaway" uses the software to distort Kanye's voice heavily for the last three minutes or so to mimic a guitar solo (it's been compared to King Crimson's Robert Fripp). A number of critics have speculated that this is intended to be a metaphor for Kanye's difficulties in expressing himself verbally.
- Badass Boast/Blasphemous Boast: CyHi da Prynce claims in "So Appalled":If God had an iPod, I'd be on his playlist.
- Body Horror: One of the images in assocation with MBDTF is a bear with five different mouths, in particular, the same "Dropout Bear" from Ye's first 3 studio albums◊. As if that wasn't enough, there's a Kanye equivalent◊.
- Bookends: The album begins and ends with instances of Spoken Word in Music, similarly to Kanye's debut The College Dropout. There are also two thematically important questions asked by other performers: "Can we get much higher?" and "Who will survive in America?".
- "Gorgeous" begins and ends with Kid Cudi's verse.
- Concept Album: Considered to be this with unifying themes of the nature of celebrity, intense introspection and Self-Deprecation, and primal emotions.
- Contemptible Cover: Seen above. There is a version of the cover with the risque image pixelated out, as well as alternate versions with different images entirely.
- Drowning My Sorrows: "Dark Fantasy"The plan was to drink until the pain was over
But what's worse, the pain or the hangover?
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "All of the Lights" is prefixed by a minute-long piano/cello rearrangement of the song.
- Epic Rocking: 10 of the 13 tracks are longer than or around 5 minutes long, with the longest being the 9-minute "Runaway".
- Fading into the Next Song: The final two tracks are Siamese Twin Songs; "Lost in the World" transitions perfectly into "Who Will Survive In America".
- Heel Realization: "Runaway" is this in spades.
- Ignored Epiphany: In "Runaway", Kanye protests his own proclivity for this.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Invoked with the outro of "Runaway", which has Kanye singing into a vocoder designed to make his words barely intelligible, which symbolically represents his troubles expressing himself verbally.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Upwards of 90 staff! For one album! Few could get away with it, fewer still could make it work.
- Loudness War: A really bad case. Nearly every song gets clipped.
- A saving grace is that the video clips on youtube (for example) don't have this loudness issue, as such they sound and look fantastic.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The music video for "Monster" is full of horror images and was apparently so frightening and racy at the same time that MTV banned it.
- One-Word Title: "Gorgeous", "Monster", "Power", "Runaway".
- Progressive Rock: Believe it or not, a major influence on this album. There's a good reason "Power" samples King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" from In the Court of the Crimson King.
- Rearrange the Song: "All of the Lights (Interlude)" is a piano/cello rearrangement of "All of the Lights".
- Questioning Title?: "Who Will Survive In America?"
- Product Placement: "Runaway"Invisibly set, the Rolex is faceless
- Record Producer: Q-Tip, RZA, DJ Premier, Madlib and Pete Rock helped with the recording sessions.
- "Dark Fantasy" contains samples of "In High Places" by Mike Oldfield.
- "Gorgeous" has samples of "You Showed Me" by The Turtles.
- "Power" has a sample from "It's Your Thing" by Continent Number 6 and "21st Century Schizoid Man" from King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King.
- "So Appalled" has samples from "You Are-I Am" by Manfred Manns Earth Band.
- "Devil in a New Dress" has a sample from "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" in the version of Smokey Robinson.
- "Runaway" has a sample of "Ecpo '83" by K.B. Ranch.
- "Hell of a Life" has a sample of "She's My Bahy" by The Mojo Men, "Stud-Spider" by Tony Joe White and "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath from Paranoid.
- "Blame Game" contains elements from "Avril 14th" by Aphex Twin.
- "Lost in the World" has samples from "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango, "Think (About It)" by Lyn Collins, "Woods" by Bon Iver and "Comment No. 1" by Gil Scott-Heron, who is sampled again during "Who Will Survive In America?"
So much head, I woke up in Sleepy HollowToo many Urkels on your team, that's why your wins low note
- The album begins with Nicki Minaj imitating a British storyteller, directly referencing the opening of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes retelling of Cinderella. Dahl's poem isn't directly referenced, but the line delivery is very similar.
- "Dark Fantasy" references "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" by Marvin Gaye from What's Going On, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the song "Sex On Fire" by Kings of Leon, Céline Dion, Leona Lewis and Steve Urkel from Family Matters.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Lost in the World" and "Who Will Survive In America", which are connected by the same beat and share the same theme.
- Special Guest: The album features appearances by Raekwon, RZA, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Charlie Wilson, Big Sean, Cyhi the Prince, Swizz Beatz, Dwele, Nicki Minaj, T.I., Drake, Teyana Taylor, Common, Jay Zi check and e, Lil Wayne, John Legend, Fergie, Rihanna, The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Elton John, M.I.A., Justin Vernon, Seal, Beyoncé, Kid Cudi, Mos Def, Santigold, Alicia Keys, Elly Jackson, Chris Rock and Tony Williams. Q-Tip, RZA, DJ Premier, Madlib and Pete Rock helped with the recording sessions.
- Spoken Word in Music: The album ends with an extensive sample of a Gil Scott-Heron spoken-word poem.
- Take That!: In "Power", Kanye references Barack Obama, who called him a "jackass" for claiming that Taylor Swift hadn't won her award fairly during the MTV Awards.They say I'm the abomination of Obama's nation... Well, that's a pretty bad way to start the conversation.
Fuck SNL and their whole castTell 'em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole assMore specifically, they can kiss my assholeI'm an asshole? You niggas got jokes!
- In the same song, he delivers one to Saturday Night Live:
- Textless Album Cover: Aside from the "Parental Advisory" label (itself absent from the "clean" version), all of the cover variants lack text.