So, this Kanye West fella, you might have heard of him. He basically Swift-boated his career at the 2009 VMAs, went into a self-imposed exile and then triumphantly returned nearly a year later with what many have called the best album of 2010. Huh?
In just over 12 months, West baffled critics by going from zero to hero, while still lashing out at the media and, with stunts like his #kanyeshrug hashtag, essentially proving he’s the same guy he always was.
“I think the thing with Kanye, he really just stuck to the same script, which is basically, Iove me or hate me but the music is gonna be so great you have to deal with me,” Complex editor-in-chief Noah Callahan-Bever told MTV News. “And that’s been the story of his career since the beginning. I think this year, he happened to be loved or hated in such extremes at the end of 2009, going on a self-imposed exile in Hawaii, he really created a currency in the intrigue with what he was doing.”
What he was doing was assembling a barrage of hip-hop’s best producers — including Q-Tip, the RZA, Pete Rock and more — and a diverse range of collaborators to help put together his artistic denouement: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The collection was bombastic musically and browbeating lyrically.
The first shot, “Power,” was a sonic middle finger to his detractors. ’Ye looked at his life and career and took stock of his place in the pop-culture ranks. It was a manifesto, of sorts, in which West declared that he was aware of his flaws and mistakes but everyone else can take them or leave them.
“He really figured that great music will change things,” RapRadar and RESPECT. magazine’s Elliot Wilson explained.
It wasn’t just the music, though, that helped Kanye come back into people’s good graces once again. He took to Twitter to voice this thoughts, sometimes in amusing non sequiturs, sometimes in revealing bunches of dispatches came in bunches, like when he addressed, once and for all, the Taylor Swift incident.
In words that he couldn’t seem to put to melody or properly convey to a talk-show host, West simply took responsibility, apologized and moved on to the next track. And then he proceeded to change the subject with his string of G.O.O.D. Friday releases online.
“He did select press but he made a lot of noise online,” New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica said. “I think he understood quickly how to make the best use of that medium.”
But what the critics and everyone who catches themselves constantly humming songs from Fantasy agree on is that “he really brought it all back to the music,” as Callahan-Bever put it. “At the end of the day no Taylor Swift incident or ’Today’ show appearance can take away from [that].”