BLOG: Is Kanye’s Heartbreak Mission Failed Or Accomplished?

That’s Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak circled alongside other recent DVD purchases like Iron Man, Hancock and Borat for $2.99.

I still cop CDs from artists I like every now and then. In ‘Ye’s case, I usually get my free album from Def Jam and still buy my own copy to show support. And whenever I support an artist, I reserve the right to criticize he/she all I want. It’s never gratuitous or malicious. I give credit when it’s due, but on the flip side, I’m not gonna blindly agree with everything an artist does just because I typically like their music. I do really like 808, though. I’m not sure I agree with Billy X. Sunday calling it a classic, but it’s a fine piece of work. “Street Lights” is my joint. Yeezy always speaks about Coldplay, Radiohead and trying to make music that sounds like Portishead. I personally don’t hear it, but “Street Lights” may be the closest he’s come to that sound yet.

As much as I’m digging the album, I can’t stand Kanye’s reasoning for it. He’s always made bold statements for his first three records. I remember him saying that any publication that didn’t give The College Dropout a classic rating was lowering the credibility of the magazine. He just knew he had classics on his hands, and for the most part, media outlets and fans alike agreed. But 808 is pretty much the first time Ye’s material is being met with mixed reviews and he seemingly doesn’t know how to handle it. While he’d previously dare listeners not to like his LPs, he’s now pretty defensive -seemingly making excuses for recording an album that isn’t being as widely embraced as its predecessors.

I’ve yet to see an interview where he doesn’t seem to be copping pleas- anything to get the public’s mind off the fact that nearly the entire record features him singing through Auto-Tune. First he said 50 would rap over 808‘s production. Maybe not 50, but Rick Ross, Drake and Novel have already tackled 808 tracks.I’ll give him that. But then, as emo as the record is, Ye said it’s still “real nigga shit.” I won’t give him that one, though. I mean, is it “real nigga shit” or does it sound like Portishead? Let’s no t get it twisted, I’m pretty sure self-proclaimed “real niggas” mess with heartfelt love songs, emo rap, not so much let alone some Portishead. Plenty of my homies have Dummy on the iPod, none of them are on some “real nigga shit.”

When queried about his mixed reviews, ‘Ye often responds that he just wants to make “good art.” So, College Dropout wasn’t art? What makes 808 any more artistic than Graduation? Kanye is also fixated on this dog on “stadium status” thing. Apparently, “Flashing Lights” still couldn’t reach 60-year-old women, so he’s hoping “Heartless” does the trick. In a nutshell, 808 is Kanye’s latest attempt at expanding his fan base. But while he may have gained a few soccer moms here and there, the excessive Auto-Tune use alienated all the hood cats he finally won over with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Heartbreak sold  451,395 units in its first week, roughly 500k less than Graduation sold last year. Sure, the industry’s in the toilet, but he’s Kanye West. T.I., who still isn’t as big an artist as Kanye, sold 568k in his first week. Had Ye released an actual rap album, I’m ready to bet he would have sold upwards 700k in the first week.

So, how is Kanye reaching more people, if he’s alienating a significant amount of fans? How is he reaching more people by selling less records? I’m sure he’d argue that the 450k doesn’t reflect the project’s international impact, but has Heartbreak made Ye that much of a bigger global star? Does his record really sound like Portishead? Let’s be fair, 450k is no flop in any way, shape or form, but considering what he set out to do, is Kanye’s Heartbreak mission failed or accomplished?-Jackpot

  • Worley

    He might have reached more of that L’oreal crowd, but “ya might have a heart attack when ya find out black folks don’t want ya back.”

  • valdez

    808s sounds NOTHING like portishead. gnarls barkley’s signature is more portishead-esque.

    i’ll admit that upon 1st listen, i was not really feeling 808s, but that was also the advanced/rough copy. i had initially felt like th sound was alittle too theatrical/dramatic. after listening to the retail version many times however, it has a way of growing on u IF you’re real with yourself. it seems easy to try to have negative remarks about it becasue it is definately not a hip hop album.

    that beind said, i would be looking at it as a huge compliment becasue that means he can’t be put in that small box. i am very surprised at his 1st week sales numbers because 808s is by far a much better album than graduation.

    808s is raw emotion, which is the main ingrediant that hip hop is lacking these days. and the production is SICK. i must say i really love this album and i can appreciate the creative risk he took with this album. imo, 808s is his 2nd best album to date (after late registration) and is very close to classic status.

  • Chris Mac

    Soccer moms dun even wan touch this album. i’ll give credit when its due, but kenyeezy fell the fuck off wit this one. White folk dun even listen to this album is embarassing to hip hop cuz its not a hip hop album, its pop!

  • Rob The Music Ed

    80s & Heartbreak is dope and over time I think it will be more celebrated. Is it a classic? I’m not sure. But it’s pretty damn close. There isn’t anything “wack” on here (besides “Pinocchio Story” but that’s just a bonus right?).

    Did 808s make Ye a bigger star? I would argue it did. He closed out the MTV Awards, he debuted his video on Ellen (and not 106), and Steve Colbeir (or however you spell that shit) is in a war of words with Ye. At the end of the day, I could give a rat’s ass about Ellen, but I guess that’s important for some folks.

    Did Kanye do Wanye numbers? No. But I won’t call 808 a failure… not even close. Now Nelly’s album- that was a failure!

    • Pierzy

      …Colbert

    • http://hiphoponmymind.blogspot.com DJ Daddy Mack

      Rob, KANYE LOST!!!

      That is all.

    • CLARK

      Pinocchio Story is dope.

      And no, I would have never even thought of comparing 808s to portishead. Nor would i compare gnarles barkley or coldplay to portishead. I don’t see any of them as similar to one another

      • valdez

        production-wise, i think gnarls barkley is very similar to portishead. well, at least the live at the roseland portishead cd.

  • e20

    This album was not that good. Period. The auto tune thing is done to death, and artist like Cold Play and even Gnarls Barkley do this type of music better than Kanye can. The track with little Wayne is awful it sounds like something my little cousins came up with playing with fruity loops and a mic. This album really could have used some hip hop. As a matter of fact, why are we even talking about this album on a hip hop site? Didn’t Kanye call this album POP-ART?

  • E20

    This album was not that good. Period.

    The auto tune thing is done to death, and artist like Cold Play and even Gnarls Barkley do this type of music better than Kanye can.

    The track with little Wayne is awful it sounds like something my little cousins came up with playing with fruity loops and a mic.

    This album really could have used some hip hop. As a matter of fact, why are we even talking about this album on a hip hop site? Didn’t Kanye call this album POP-ART?

  • yoprince

    robocop should’ve been the first single, then heartless, and love lockdown.

    robocop would’ve popped off more; love lock and heartless are both a little too depressing for first singles.

    i don’t like kanye the rapper, i love this album.

  • Yayza

    I hate all the talk about the sales 808s has done, when really, Kanye pulled a Jay-Z with this album. Remember American Gangster? Jay announced that shit AFTER Graduation came out. He had like a month to promote the shit, and it still sold 445k in its first week. Kanye did the same thing with this album. He basically just said “Yo, albums done, it’s dropping in 2 months, cop the shit” and people did. Graduation, on the oher hand, had a ton of hype, coupled with the whole 50 Cent sales battle, so all things considered, 808s has sold what it should have so far. You get what you put in. You gotta have a business mind when looking at this stuff.

  • amar

    i hate the album and agree that it’s not a classic and doing more bad than good

    however, i think he’s doing it cause he expanded his fan base with graduation like crazy and can now afford to do whatever he wants without falling off entirely. That’s cool with me, even though I won’t support the album.

    I just hope he doesn’t permanently change his sound to one i don’t like…jeezy’s verse on that one song is pretty hot though…maybe cause it’s like one of the few rap verse on there

    • amar

      oh and in terms of it being “real nigga shit”, maybe he means taht “real niggas” can listen to emo or show emotion and still be “real niggas”. In that sense, i agree. Sorta tupac’s message with the whole “even thugs cry” shit

  • capcobra

    alotta rappers make misguided 4th albums….but if you can make past the sophomore jinx and survive the 4th album crash…then you might be legendary…personally i think if kanye bounce back and actually rap again he’ll be alright…all he gotta do address the 808 backlash and there go the 5th cd right there.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Gooch

    He put out a record he wanted to make, pretty much the way he intended it to be, on a major label. And it did exactly how he wanted to. If it doesn’t sell shit, he’s an artist… so yeah, mission accomplished indeed.

  • El Tico Loco

    Heard it and I couldn’t get out of my head that this a rapper trying to sing and he’s getting in the way of actual singers that are trying to get on. The only good rapper/singer out there is Phonte.

    • valdez

      ^^^^GTFOH!! so phonte is better than 3000 or cee-lo?? NO!

  • kingequality

    I was feeling kanye up till tis point he must of been trying to cock block T-pain and Akon or something most hiphop heads will try to listen just to fit in with the in crowd but this is not creative music this is that shit you hear when you see a 2yr old playing with the keyboards at target

  • Pierzy

    He is reaching more of an audience because this album will (probably) appeal to a different group of fans. So, even if it doesn’t sell more copies, it’ll sell to different people, so if he goes back to the formula and makes the “Good Ass Job” album, he’ll get his “old” (first three album) fans back and some of his new fans will probably check it out when they probably would not have before.

  • my folks are morons

    Dear Lord will people please stop talking about this Stephen Colbert shit. it is not a war or words the man does a fucking comedy show!!!!! damn my black people are so fucking stupid I guess saturday night live was ‘beefing’ with sarah palin. lmao dumb fucks

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Excellent points. Good post. Jackpot, you need to post more often.

  • Avenger XL

    I don’t know what Kanye was trying for here but it wasn’t awful nore life changing it was a mediocre pop album that sounded like something Pharrell williams trys to pull off with his faux crooning with NERD. But those records don’t sell either. With that being said the only anger I have for ye is the fact he is one of many producers trying to do every damn thing alone to say it is more personal and keep more of the royalities. When he could have gotten some hungrey indie singers and made a supper hot album and rapped more on the project also. See great producers know that their art is in the final product. I think 808 would have been doper with Sy Smith, Jaenelle Monae, Ursula Rucker, John Legend and a few artist including ye doing his part. Some times you have to spread the love to make a classic (See the Chronic)

    • JDSkellington

      exactly… but dude’s ego is too big to do something like that.

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    Every great artist (in this case, rapper) have a “WTF album”. Example:

    Kanye West = 808′s & Heartbreak
    Nas = Nastradamus
    T.I. = T.I. vs T.I.P
    Jay-Z = In My Lifetime, Vol. 1
    Andre 3000 = The Love Below
    Outkast = Idlewild
    Common = Electric Circus
    ect…

    • Rob The Music Ed

      I beg to differ minus “Sunshine” and Jay-Z’s worst song ever aka “I Know What Girls Like” In My Lifetime Vol.1 is a hard ass album! Actually my third fav Jay album after RD and BP1.

      now TI VS. TIP that was a WTF album!

      • Penelope Rodriguez

        Encore was Eminem’s WTF album.

        I’m afraid his next album will be a WTF too.

      • Pierzy

        In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 was a fantastic album. It includes some of Jay’s best songs and one of his most quoted lines: “Who’s the best MCs/Biggie, Jay-Z or NaS”

    • Simple like ABC, 123

      *** “WTF album” not mean wack album, is when the first time you listen the album, you said “WHAT?, WTF”

  • MC

    MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

    Absolutely love the album

  • http://www.myspace.com/distortedmindzdistorteddjz Benjamin Bixby

    My thing is this….if u listen to the album and understand what he was trying to do it aint a bad album nor is it a Uber album either but it is listenable…i’ve actually been playin it for the last week or so..the video he has out is some what creative..album reminds me of the 80′s a lil bit..i think everyone should give that man room to vent and be creative.Everyone is always saying “aint no creativity we want something different” then soon as u get it its “man why u aint do like u been doing we want that old thang back” i think yall should sit yall ungrateful album downloading radio influenced follow the leader asses back and let the artist be artist. Oh and to say that T.I isnt on the level that kanye is on is incorrect….check the sales of the last couple albums T.I is surely on his level if not past him. Kanye is a great artist i dont take anything from him but damn give Tip his props he has yet to drop a garbage album but according to alot of people kanye just did

    • valdez

      ^^well said.

  • Lester Diamond

    Why is this new generation of kids so damn emotional? Kanye always seemed like a lost child to me. I hope this is just a phaze for him because his new material is weak. Oh and another thing, I know there is gonna be at least 2 or 3 emotional homo-thugs calling me a hater for talking shit about Kanye’s weak album. Why do I have to be a hater for not liking someone’s record? I don’t hate Kanye, I just think his album sucks. When the fuck did everybody become emo? It’s like everyone is emo and they don’t know it.

  • Mutada al sader the king

    This album was ass. Period stop trying to apologize for wackness

  • joints

    Surprised nobody has brought up the fact that kanye was facing much stiffer competition this time around. Not only was he up against the shit ass economy / crumbling cd buying public, but new albums from Ludacris, Guns N Roses and the killers…all artists with pretty sizeable followings. not to mention that country chick with a shit load of promo. the things i’d do to her……….

  • 360

    did you not realize that Graduation had MUCH MORE PUBLICITY with the whole 50 vrs Kanye thing. stop being retarded. the hood has never been bumping kanye, hes not alienating fans, less people bought it because you can download it for free. People wanted Graduation to beat out Curtis.

  • http://efcuttin.com EF Cuttin

    If any of U are MTV generation 1, you’ve heard this. If not, this is his tribute album to the stars of that era. I still say he made this just in case McCain won and he’d be overseas the whole 4 years. If U want the Obama version U gotta cop that 88Keys!!!!

    • yoprince

      LMAO

  • Britney fans

    All you dumb bastards that like this shit because it’s different need to slide outta here and get a Gucci or Vogue apprenticeship. What’s next, y’all mutherfuckers gonna start rocking the new Britney album too ?

    XXL should just get off Kangheys dick and stop posting anything to do with the fraud album.

  • REAL TALK 08

    808z and Heartbreak is ‘Ye most heartfelt work yet!..i just bought the CD 2day,and I must say the more I listen to it the more I like it..one of the best of 2009!..Already!…

  • mig

    had he put out another rap album i would have bought that shit 10 minutes after it came out. but there is no way im spending 14 bucks on that shit he put out couple weeks back. i like that song heartless but not enough to drop money on it

  • http://myspace.com/marko4aoc Marko-V

    Every artist drops a dark album after their critically acclaimed most successful peice of work. Do the knowledge, P.E.’s Fear of a Black Planet all the way to Nirvana’s In Utero. Or even Sly and the Family Stone. It’s a true artists way of staying true to their creative juices that inspired them to start making music in the first place. That’s how they get all of the fairweathers of their wings and continue to soar above the clouds artistically and not be brought down by the trappings of fame. No I did not buy this album. Yes I bought all the others. Even before he was labeled great. It has nothin to do with the media and everything to do with the direction of the music. So if you like the “music” then buy it. If not then wait for the next one. But never stop listening.
    get at me: myspace.com/marko4aoc

  • $ykotic

    Still can’t figure out how almost going gold in a week is a failure…

    True that he could’ve added some spice to it, but I see where dude is coming from. “Artist” sound way better than “rapper”.

    And robo and pinnocio are slick.

    Son is putting in work. He gets a check in my book.

  • Adoe

    Im from Australia and they played a couple of his singles for a week on the radio and now you dont hear them, which tells methey’re not popular.
    Ive ated evrything he does but I agree I think in trying something new he has alienatedthe people tha supported him and his music in the firstplace.
    I think some artists, especially Hip hop artists, need to realise that Im not going to by your music cause you say its good, Ill buy it if it is good to my ears.
    Im sure Kanye will come back with a strong hip hop cd, but this 808′s is weak and think it will be a flash in the pan, and easily forgotten.

  • yeezy

    808 is amazing. i’m one to get pissed off at niggas usin the auto-tune but kanye totally changed my mind. he’s a genius in every sense of the word

  • hiphopaddict

    i only like 5 songs on the album thats it.I’ma fan of Ye’ and i admire the risk of being different…but he can finally chill out with the singing and get back to that goos add job lp

  • http://Dis_Misters_Mic@blackplanet.com Dis_Misters_Mic

    Where do I start. First I’d like to say that I support creative freedom with-in this genre to the fullest. But I feel shafted when an artist thinks that anything done with an 808 or auto-tune is “Hot”. Now ‘to me’… this is kanye’s most non-artistic product yet. From the first track which sounds incredibly like a Phil Collins track from the movie risky business and every other track similarly spins off from that.

    Ye’s is not breaking ground here niether people.
    When Diddy, lil kim, common or mos-def choose to express themselves through song we rail-roaded them to stay in there lane.
    This is NOT an hip-hop album (I want a refund) and nor is it R&B. Auto-tunes does not make him an R-B singer.
    Personally I think other than a singer or rapper…kanye is one of the most talent producers alive. Hence…thats whats makes some of the song catchy. He needs to go back to that…check his resume…the proof is in the pudding.

  • REAL TALK 08

    I must say I’ve been a die hard ‘Ye fan from the beginning….and I’m tired of ppl throwing hate and basing evrything on sales…i think ‘Ye made this album as a dedication to his mom dat died RIP Donda West,and he left he fiance..so..dat alone set the dark tone of 808!…haterz r alwayz gonna find a way to discredit ‘Ye..cuz he is the most diverse artist in Music period not jusdt Hip Hop…imma fan of all his albums…i’m just glad he made anuta album,b/c he could’ve just said F@”" it!..my momz is dead and i aint feelin ‘ this gimmicky azz industry..instead,he Tragedy To Triumph to quote his 1st song…”Through the Wire”….by far,’Ye is the best artist of the pas decade..he dares to be different and it works eveytime….this album is not only a classic!..but….i think ‘Ye has enuff die hard fan base he apppreciate Real Music..of course REAL TALK!….

  • http://www.myspace.com/sniperskaos Kaos

    You ain heard brothas pissed cos you switched and escaped to the burbs…

  • MikeD

    Where can I get Borat for 2.99???? That’s a fucking steal!

  • http://xxlmag.com Billy X. Sunday

    Co sign the Borat for $2.99 and the 300 special edition for $6.99. You won for that alone.

    Respect my prescience, 808s is a CLASSIC. I think some folks will have to experience this joint live to really get it.

    [ll] to getting it.