After weeks of G.O.O.D. Friday giveaways and Twitter ramblings, Kanye West finally shares his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with the world. The rapper’s controversial remarks and behavior made headlines over the past year, but Mr. West lets his music do the talking on his fifth album. How did the critics respond? Unanimously.
USA Today: The audacious new My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy opens a window into an ego that is often tripping, thus exposing the insecurities and foibles that fuel West’s boundless creativity and grandiose ambitions. 4 out of 4
Entertainment Weekly: West may be obnoxious, but at least he’s interested in confronting those aspects of his identity through his music. Few stars of comparable wattage would dare do the same. A
Rolling Stone: Nobody else is making music this daring and weird, from the spooky space funk of “Gorgeous” to the King Crimson-biting “Power” to the paranoid staccato strings of “Monster.” 5 out of 5
SPIN: It’s a sinister, orchestral, hugely grandiose affair that owes as much to the artist’s self-aggrandizing ego as to the voracious id that would destroy it publicly. 9 out of 10
TIME: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, his most extravagant work, is hip-hop’s version of grand opera: a congested, constantly bustling disc stuffed with oversized drama, guest rappers, insanely eclectic samples, and backup vocals from a list of headliners that includes Alicia Keys, Elton John, and Fergie.
Chicago Tribune: What makes him so off-putting—his almost pathological allegiance to expressing his emotions, unfiltered—is also what makes him so compelling, a curious mix of bravado and vulnerability. But that same transparency makes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a terrific album. 3.5 out of 4
Chicago Sun-Times: That he’s rapping again, after suffering such undue abuse for his “singing” on his last album, 808s and Heartbreak, is cause for celebration not just because his vocalizing isn’t always spot-on but because his mouth is on fire again, throwing out genius rhymes and typically radical claims. 4 out of 4
The Boston Globe: Love it or hate it—and that’s probably the only range of reactions it will elicit—My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy lives up to its name. More than that, though, it’s a welcome reminder that once you settle West’s scores—and they number plenty these days—he’s a visionary and not just the jerk who interrupted Taylor Swift and pouted over his recent “Today” interview with Matt Lauer.
The Washington Post: And that’s just a freckle of the petulant genius that coats every inch of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, easily the most thrilling album of 2010 and the best of West’s career. The weird, wordy title is the only thing about this opus that he’ll live to regret—the rest is pure pop bravura, with hip-hop’s biggest ego torquing self-obsession into unapologetic new shapes.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Dark Fantasy,” “All of the Lights,” “Monster,” “Lost in the World”