I know I’m in the minority when I say this, but I actually like the music Kanye West is putting out right now. Forget the fact he’s using the now-cliché Auto-Tune effect. Forget the fact he can’t sing. Forget the fact he’s not rapping. Forget the fact he broke from the theme of his four-part album series (Remember, album four was supposed to be called Good Ass Job?) Forget the fact he’s going with some scruffy Pee Wee Herman look. Forget everything that you want Kanye to do right now, because as usual, he’s doing him.
What I like about the music I’ve heard so far off 808s & Heartbreak is the fact that Kanye is being 100 percent real. Over the past year the man lost his mother and has endured a rocky relationship with his girlfriend. Now he’s tapping into his emotions and writing from his heart. For better or for worse, that’s led Kanye to sing, but neither his limited vocal ability or his usage of Auto-Tune for an entire album is my concern. My focus has been on his lyrics.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been there myself—more times than I’d care to admit—but Kanye’s music reflects the mood of a man that’s been hurt. No matter how many cocksure choruses (“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”), braggadocios bars (“Swagger Like Us”) or self-righteous raps (“Good Life”) an artist makes, pain is one of the purest emotions and is something that everyone can relate to—whether or not the average hardrock cares to admit it.
Now, I’m not saying that just because Kanye is tapping into his pain that his music gets a pass, because like I said earlier, the man can’t sing, but neither can T-Pain, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nelly, Flo Rida or Lil Wayne. We’ve forgiven these artists for their vocal flaws because of one overriding reason: Their music speaks to us. Whether you choose to listen or not, Kanye’s music is speaking to me right now—with or without an Auto-Tune effect.
Still, some folks might not be able to get over the whole singing and Auto-Tune thing. So here are my personal picks for notable lyrics off the leaked 808s & Heartbreak tracks.
“I’m not lovin’ you/Way I wanted to/I can’t keep my cool/So I keep it true/I got something to lose/So I gotta move/I can’t keep myself/And still keep you too/So I keep in mind/When I’m on my own/Somewhere far from home/In the danger zone/How many times did I tell you/’Fore it finally got through/You lose, you lose/I’m not lovin’ you/Way I wanted to/See I had to go/See I had to move/No more wastin’ time/You can’t wait for life/Were just racin’ time/Where’s the finish line…”
Yes, at times ’Ye sounds like his mouth is rewired shut and doesn’t enunciate all of his words. Yes, the lyrics are simple, but sometimes feelings don’t need to be explained in complex ways. The lesson I take from this verse is that life is a race and no matter what hurdles we face on the way to the finish line, you have to keep your eyes on the prize.
“How could you be so, cold as the winter wind when it breeze, yo/Just remember that you talkin’ to me though/You need to watch the way you talkin’ to me, yo/I mean after all the things that we’ve been through/I mean after all the things we got into/Hey, yo, I know of some things that you ain’t told me/Hey, yo, I did some things but that’s the old me/And now you wanna get me back and you goin’ show me/So you walk around like you don’t know me/You got a new friend, well I got homies/But in the end it’s still so lonely.”
Less Auto-Tune on this track so the haters should be happy. Still, I’m more focused on the lyrics. In this brief exchange Kanye encapsulates the tricky game that is a breakup. We’ve all been there (if not, you’ll be there eventually). No matter how many new “homies” you acquire, you’re still gonna feel a certain way when you see your ex with someone new and realize that quantity can never replace quality.
“If spring can take the snow away/(If spring can take the snow away)/Can it melt away all of our mistakes/(Can it melt away all of our mistakes)/Memories made in the coldest winter/Goodbye my friend I won’t I ever love again…Never Again….”
Okay, this one really doesn’t have that many lyric options as Kanye repeats every other line a million times. Actually, listening back at it and analyzing the lyrics, I can see why some folks might hate this one. The coldest winter metaphor also could have been stronger, but I like this one, too. Sue me.
I won’t even play myself and try to quote anything from this track. This one doesn’t get a pass from me. Way too much Auto-Tune. The track is some ’80s synth hodgepodge that’s more Studio 54 than Baseline Studios. Then to top it all off, I have no idea what he’s trying to say with the whole analogy. Okay, he says “drop it” on the record like RoboCop used to say in the movies, but that’s a bit of a stretch to call a nosy girlfriend a RoboCop. Sorry, I’ll pass on this one.
Overall, I’m feeling three out of four of the leaked tracks and looking forward to 808s & Heartbreak. In my humble opinion, Kanye’s off to a good start for a making a decent experimental album. Hip-hop needs to be shaken up a bit, and I commend one of our biggest stars for taking a risk by going out on a limb and trying something new. Does this mean another “classic” from Mr. West? Only time will tell, but what do y’all think about the music so far? Are you down with the new direction or can’t wait for this rapper to get back to rapping?
Speak your piece…