Kanye West reinvents himself again on 808s and Heartbreak, an extraordinary album of such a personal nature that it seems indecent to listen.
It’s been a tough couple of years for the self-proclaimed “Louis Vuitton Don”, and the death of his mother and the break-up of his engagement to designer Alexis Phifer inspire the record. West bravely ventures out of his comfort zone by singing his way through most of the album. Remarkably, this by no means leaves the record lacking lyrically, with West’s verses superior to those of his third album, Graduation.
Musically, the album takes a minimalist approach with the Roland TR808 drum machine and sweeping strings accompanying West’s auto-tuned voice throughout. This works perfectly in projecting the heartache of the Georgia born rapper, producer, and now, singer. “How could you be so heartless?” he asks on ‘Heartless’, one of several bitter tracks aimed at his ex.
808s and Heartbreak is not the self-pitying, ‘victim of celebrity’ album that it may at first seem. Rather, it is a soul-searching record in which West asks genuine questions of his life. It is a personal, daring, brilliant, and at times rather strange album that represents a triumphant return for Mr West.