About a week ago Complex magazine came out and said arguably the most brash and controversial statement as far as music goes. If you haven't read it Complex stated that Kanye West' "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" album is the best album of the 2010s. Do you agree and if so why? Better question... Is that how you felt before this statement came out? Gotta be honest when statements like these come out the bandwagon jumpers make themselves known so with this blog we are going to not only dissect the album itself but we are going to delve into what makes an album eligible to be considered in this conversation as well as why it was even brought up in the first place.
The reason I feel like this statement came out was because of the recent success of Ye's Jesus Is King album. As mixed as the reviews have been numbers and records don't lie. Ye has become the first artist ever to grace all top 10 spots on both Gospel and Christian song charts. In addition to this he also topped 5 separate charts in the US simultaneously. Those other charts being R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Top Rap Albums, and The Billboard 200. So as you can see the success of this album overshadows his 2018 release "Ye" and it couldn't have come at a more better time for him due to an interview with TMZ that resulted with him stating that slavery was a choice. There is also the controversy that surfaced when he decided to wear a MAGA hat followed by meeting/hanging with president Donald Trump. Before moving forward let me just say that the basis of this blog and my opinions on his bodies of work are in no reflection of his political views. Separating the man from the music is very imperative with discussions such as these. With that said let's continue breaking everything down.
With so many Hip Hop albums that have come out since 2010 we have to make note of the biggest and most influential records to make sure that your energy is still the same when regarding MBDTF as the best album of the 2010s. Off the back let's talk about Kendrick Lamar's "Damn" album. The triple platinum album topped charts here in the states as well as Canada. It also was number 2 in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom. The biggest achievement that came from this album is when it recieved the 2018 Pulitzer Prize For Music which made him the only artist to recieve this award outside of jazz and classical music. Not to get too carried away with Kung Fu Kenny but his other albums "To Pimp A Butterfly" and "Good Kid M.A.A.D. City" are honorable mentions on this subject. Moving on to another artist that has had a great deal of success with their music is J. Cole with his "2014 Forest Hills Drive" which also was triple platinum. What made this album so special is the fact that there was little to no promotion and marketing towards it and was still able to sell 353,000 its first week. The album was nominated and won a lot of awards some of which includes the best rap album for both The Grammys and 2015 Billboard Music Awards. All of these feats and achievements done with no features. That alone easily puts this album in the topic of conversation if you ask me.
To sit here and try to break down every rap album from 2010 till now will have us here all week which brings me to another point. Complex stated that Ye's MBDTF is the best album of the decade meaning that it is not limited to the Rap and Hip-Hop genres. So if we take that into account we would be here even longer trying to dissect the top albums from other genres. For arguments sake we just focused on rap which in of itself is a challenging subject to tackle. Below I will have a list of some of the top albums of the decade so you can form your own opinion better with the information right there in front of you.
Part of why discussions like these go so many different ways is because of the criteria everyone bases their selections on. Some people care about album sales, others care about cultural influence, then there's some that care about the creativity and lyricism. There's no definitive right answer here but since this is my blog let me explain the criteria in which I base an artist having a great album or not. What I look for When judging an album is lyricism, creativity, concept, production, vibe and replay value. The lyricism and creativity is what catches my ear first. What you're saying and how its said will make or break me being enthused or not. It tells me that this person took time to construct a song in a way to really captivate the listener as opposed to those who make music for the sheer purpose to sell records no matter what. The usage of similes, metaphors, double entendres, transitions of flows, and wordplay all play key components to having a dope project to me. After this comes concept. What's the track about? Being able to cover personal, controversial, political or social issues on a track is a huge plus for me because it shows depth, awareness, vulnerability and bravery. For me it's easy for a person to do a club record but when you start talking about police brutality, personal experiences growing up, or heartbreak? Then that's when I can look at you in a different light. Production matters especially nowadays. The beat is what can make or break a record sometimes regardless of what's being said on it. Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "T.R.O.Y.", Jay-Z's "You, Me, Him, Her", and Noreaga's "Banned From TV" are just a few classic beats that when you hear it it hits you. Being able to have a beat that gives off that feeling doesn't always happen regardless if you're the producer or not so when an album is laced with hot beats from beginning to end that's impressive and uncommon to be honest. Vibe and replay value for me go hand in hand. The vibe is the feeling that the track gives off. Maybe this record makes you wanna hit the club, maybe it wants you to sit up and chill with a special someone or maybe it makes you wanna space out and think and reflect on life. Depending who you are as a person will make the replay value stronger if it coincides with your personality so basically if you're an extreme extrovert who likes to party and have a good time a conscious artist may not be someone that you will bump on a regular basis as opposed to someone who makes music for the club scene. So "in short" this is what I base an album off of so now let's see how Kanye's album stacks up.
First on the list is lyricism which to be truthful isn't the most advanced or technical bars there is but it's more so what's being said then how it's being conveyed. For me there's memorable lines like "what's worse? The pain or the hangover?" from "Hell Of A Life" or "I'm living in the future so the present is my past, my presence is a present kiss my ass". Whether it be ridiculously cocky or unflinchingly vulnerable about life in the spotlight or relationships Kanye tailors his lyrics in a way where you hang on to every syllable. There was a point in time where Kanye and Kid Cudi where by far the most creative and innovative artist around... and this was that period for Ye. His thought process and concepts for this album gave you a little something different then the track before. Now as far as his concepts go this is where he stepped outside of the box because you have tracks like "Runaway" where it talks about toasting to assholes and scumbags. It was a creative way to explain that he is the problem in the relationship so let's have a toast for him while the female runs away to escape the toxicity. "Blame Game" takes the cake with concept because it reveals the bad side of the relationship and how he was able to get wise to everything that was happening behind his back when her phone called him back and he was able to hear the whole entire conversation she was having with her side piece (played by comedian Chris Rock). We now quite possibly get to Kanye's strongest quality on this album... The production. Ye said that he is able to see colors when listening to certain sounds so that alone should tell you what type of mind we are dealing with when talking about beats. Sadly you don't really hear classic beats anymore or maybe that's just me but with this album these beats will hit you whether or not Ye's vocals can be heard. To be able to evoke an emotion or such attachment to an instrumental isn't that easy but Ye certainly made it seem that way with MBDTF. "All Of The Lights (Interlude)" and track itself, "The Blame Game", "Power" and of course "Monster" are just a few examples of not only the creativity with these beats but also the range. Not one beat sounds similar to any other beat on that record or in general at that point in time. The vibe will take you on an emotional roller coaster because one minute you will be turnt up wildin' out to "Monster" and the next you'll be Mellowed out as you listen to "Devil In A New Dress". This in turn helps the replay value because there's something here for everyone in some way no matter who they are or what they're going through.
So now in conclusion we have a better idea as to why Kanye West's MBDTF is named the best album of the decade. With all of this information brought under a microscope about the album not to mention a few artist and their projects who also deserve to be in the topic of discussion do you still agree or disagree with Complex' statement and why?
As promised here is a list of the top albums in Hip-Hop of the last decade...
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