Kanye West's Last Groundbreaking Album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy , Turns 5 Today

Kanye West's Last Groundbreaking Album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy , Turns 5 Today

Here's to hoping SWISH won't be another YEEZUS.

Published November 22, 2015

Kanye West released his fifth solo studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy five years ago today and its legacy is legendary. It covers all ground in both hip hop and music generally.

For the “real rap” fans you get a verse from Raekwon on “Gorgeous,” production from RZA on “Dark Fantasy,” and some of that basement darkness on “So Appalled.” For those more privy to what ‘Ye introduced on 808s and Heartbreak, Beautiful Dark showcases “Lost in the World,” which one could argue is an even more evolved form of some of the offerings from his 2008 LP.

The whole album is a summary of what makes Kanye West great. There aren’t any skips on it. It also was recognized as a damn near classic the day it was released – a sentiment only reiterated in present day. The same can’t be said about YEEZUS.

I know, I know. It took us a few years to understand 808s and Heartbreak. But after about one or two, critics and fans alike either said swallowed their initial dissent about the album or yelled out a big, “I told y’all.” It’s been over two years since we got Ye’s follow-up to MBDTF and there’s still not wide-ranging consensus about its legacy. Know why? ‘Cause it’s never going to be a classic or near classic. It’s still the same nonsensical screaming over random instrumentals we initially heard on June 18, 2013.

And yes, I am slamming a Kanye album while praising another under the cloak of an anniversary piece. But I’m doing it precisely because this isn’t really a reflection piece. It’s a plea to ‘Ye. And no, I don’t expect him to read this. It’s more like a prayer. A prayer that SWISH – if that’s what it’s really called – will be something more.

I honestly think YEEZUS was created to troll us. The optimist in me though believes it was put out there to make people change up their thinking of who Kanye West is for the better. It was the album ‘Ye used the capital he earned from his near perfect prior work to throw out something we had to hold our noses and eat. He used it to pump the breaks and really let people know he isn’t just a musician. He told us he doesn’t want to go back to old Kanye, and he meant it.

That said, it put Kanye in a space where he can literally create anything. And I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think we should want his next LP to be another College Dropout, or Late Registration, or Graduation, or even 808s. It should only be something more. But that’s where My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy comes back into play. Although I don’t want it to be that either.

‘Ye always adds his own quirkiness to everything he does and it’s part of the reason everyone loves him. He’s been doing small doses of YEEZUS on every album he’s ever put out. I hope SWISH is a dose of ‘Ye’s uniqueness, but instead of it being him screaming about being a slave to high fashion, it’s at worst RZA yelling “F****n’ rediculous” off beat on a track – something we can laugh off rather than laugh at. I hope it’s the kind of Kanye we heard on “Can’t Stop” from Theophilus London’s Vibes album and not the “Piss on Your Grave” ‘Ye from Travi$ Scott’s Rodeo.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy presented Kanye West at his pinnacle. It received the sort of praise it deserved. It gave us musical Kanye. It gave us quality. We know at the time of its creation Kanye was in a dark place. He was heavily into 90s New York hip hop at the time and had posters on the wall of his Hawaii residency, one of which read “what would Mobb Deep do?” It’s these types of unique places that help him cook something delicious. I only hope whatever’s next is not only edible, but savory as well.

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(Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Vogue)

Written by Paul Meara

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