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