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In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Kanye West created the most compelling body of pop music by an American artist during the period. Having risen from obscurity as a precocious producer through the ranks of Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella records, by the time he released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) in late 2010, West had evolved into a master collagist, an In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Kanye West created the most compelling body of pop music by an American artist during the period. Having risen from obscurity as a precocious producer through the ranks of Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella records, by the time he released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) in late 2010, West had evolved into a master collagist, an alchemist capable of transfiguring semi-obscure soul samples and indelible beats into a brash and vulnerable new art form. A look at the arc of his career, from the heady chipmunk soul exuberance of The College Dropout (2004) to the operatic narcissism of MBDTF, tells us about the march of pop music into the digital age and, by extension, the contradictions that define our cultural epoch. In a cloud-based and on-demand culture – a place of increasing virtualization, loneliness, and hyper-connectivity – West straddles this critical moment as what David Samuels of The Atlantic calls "the first true genius of the iPhone era, the Mozart of contemporary American music." In the land of taking a selfie, honing a personal brand, and publicly melting down online, Kanye West is the undisputed king. Swallowing the chaos wrought by his public persona and digesting it as a grandiose allegory of self-redemption, Kanye sublimates his narcissism to paint masterstroke after masterstroke on MBDTF, a 69-minute hymn to egotistical excess. Sampling and ventriloquizing the pop music past to tell the story of its future – very much a tale of our culture's wish for unfettered digital ubiquity – MBDTF is the album of its era, an aesthetic self-acquittal and spiritual autobiography of our era's most dynamic artist.


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In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Kanye West created the most compelling body of pop music by an American artist during the period. Having risen from obscurity as a precocious producer through the ranks of Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella records, by the time he released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) in late 2010, West had evolved into a master collagist, an In the first decade of the twenty-first century, Kanye West created the most compelling body of pop music by an American artist during the period. Having risen from obscurity as a precocious producer through the ranks of Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella records, by the time he released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) in late 2010, West had evolved into a master collagist, an alchemist capable of transfiguring semi-obscure soul samples and indelible beats into a brash and vulnerable new art form. A look at the arc of his career, from the heady chipmunk soul exuberance of The College Dropout (2004) to the operatic narcissism of MBDTF, tells us about the march of pop music into the digital age and, by extension, the contradictions that define our cultural epoch. In a cloud-based and on-demand culture – a place of increasing virtualization, loneliness, and hyper-connectivity – West straddles this critical moment as what David Samuels of The Atlantic calls "the first true genius of the iPhone era, the Mozart of contemporary American music." In the land of taking a selfie, honing a personal brand, and publicly melting down online, Kanye West is the undisputed king. Swallowing the chaos wrought by his public persona and digesting it as a grandiose allegory of self-redemption, Kanye sublimates his narcissism to paint masterstroke after masterstroke on MBDTF, a 69-minute hymn to egotistical excess. Sampling and ventriloquizing the pop music past to tell the story of its future – very much a tale of our culture's wish for unfettered digital ubiquity – MBDTF is the album of its era, an aesthetic self-acquittal and spiritual autobiography of our era's most dynamic artist.

30 review for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    The first part, on Social Networks' noxious effects on our conception of the self, rings of a stale truism by 2019, but Graves analysis of the album, and his interpretation of Kanye's persona, feel justly celebratory and bring to light countless nuances of an infinitely rewarding work of art. The occasional controversial opinion (College Dropout is the least cohesive of Kanye's first three records? Really?) is more thrilling than annoying; being outraged by controversial opinions is one of the gr The first part, on Social Networks' noxious effects on our conception of the self, rings of a stale truism by 2019, but Graves analysis of the album, and his interpretation of Kanye's persona, feel justly celebratory and bring to light countless nuances of an infinitely rewarding work of art. The occasional controversial opinion (College Dropout is the least cohesive of Kanye's first three records? Really?) is more thrilling than annoying; being outraged by controversial opinions is one of the great joys of debating pop music. Plus, now I understand Yeezus! (I mean the record)

  2. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    I've had this book for so long and just decided to read it because I wanted to reminisce about when times were good and things made sense. I'm so fucking mad at a Kanye West right now. It just makes me so upset, who Kanye has become. However, If I'm honest, it's all my fault that I'm mad because I fell into Yeezy's meticulously developed plan to make us, black people, feel like he gave a fuck about us, black people. Kanye West only cares about one person, Kanye West. Anyway, I loved this contribu I've had this book for so long and just decided to read it because I wanted to reminisce about when times were good and things made sense. I'm so fucking mad at a Kanye West right now. It just makes me so upset, who Kanye has become. However, If I'm honest, it's all my fault that I'm mad because I fell into Yeezy's meticulously developed plan to make us, black people, feel like he gave a fuck about us, black people. Kanye West only cares about one person, Kanye West. Anyway, I loved this contribution to the 33 1/3 series because it was wild. I mean the way that Kirk Walker Graves writes, you can tell that he fucking stans Yeezy soooooo hard and it made it so easy to slide into all the metaphors he was laying down. Reading this book, I felt like I was wearing a VR headset, watching and examining all the moments and thought-processes, songs, music-video concepts and daydreams and nightmares that make me love the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album so much. It made me wonder about how Kanye went from MBDTF to his most recent release, ye. It made me wonder what Mr. Graves thinks about the current state of affairs of the Yeezy enterprise. I really liked the chapter-by-chapter breakdown of each song and how detailed Graves got into the structure and creation of each song, but moreover - I love how Graves discussed the angels and demons Kanye battles, builds up, tears down, explains and exemplifies on each track. As far as music writing goes, I really feel like Graves knows his shit. It was a fun ride, a quick read and really just got me going. It got me super riled up. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is one of my favourite Yeezy records ever and Mr. Graves did a great job of helping me quietly geek out and reminisce.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    4.5 stars. The buzz was deafening, impossible to ignore. Here was an iconoclastic artist whose resume to date spoke for itself, yet was as polarizing a figure as he’d ever been – this was soon after imma-let-you-finishing Taylor and being deemed a “jackass” by one President (Obama), all the while having previously offended another POTUS (Dubya) during a telethon – and on the precipice of releasing his sure-to-be-a-hit- fifth album. And here I was… not having any of it? Yeah, by late 2010 I’d pret 4.5 stars. The buzz was deafening, impossible to ignore. Here was an iconoclastic artist whose resume to date spoke for itself, yet was as polarizing a figure as he’d ever been – this was soon after imma-let-you-finishing Taylor and being deemed a “jackass” by one President (Obama), all the while having previously offended another POTUS (Dubya) during a telethon – and on the precipice of releasing his sure-to-be-a-hit- fifth album. And here I was… not having any of it? Yeah, by late 2010 I’d pretty much become exhausted by Kanye West. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t about to deny his genius. The aforementioned resume was one most artists would dream of having represent their entire career – and it had only spawned during the back half of the previous decade. But the childish antics, the narcissistic declarations, the insecurity thinly disguised as megalomania, had all grown to be a bit too much. Suffice to say, Ye had to either come at me with a masterpiece or, well, lose me as a fan. I’m sure he lost sleep over my ultimatum. Although according to Kirk Walker Graves’s dedication to Kanye’s transcendent My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (MBDTF) – as part of the sublime 33 1/3 collection – the artist didn’t get a whole lot of sleep during the album’s recording and production to begin with. It shows, both in Graves’s synopsis and, of course, the album itself, one which many argue – myself included – will stand amongst the true GOATs, alongside the Thrillers, the Neverminds and the Chronics, perhaps even overshadowing them. But this is where I must remind myself that I am not writing an album review, but a book review. Better still, a review of a book which all but reviewed an album. Although even saying that is disingenuous, a discredit to Graves’s work. In his book, the writer dissects MBDTF like a master surgeon, going deep into the innards of each track to reveals its many sources, its inspiration, the obsession and madness that went into its creation. He’s essentially Jekyll deconstructing Frankenstein, all the while professing both his adoration and appreciation for the art and artist. It’s a tricky balance, yet one Graves manages to tiptoe rather than teeter. With an album as thought-provoking and emotion-inducing as MBDTF, this is no small feat. Then again, nothing about MBDTF is small, and other than the length of Graves’s work, neither is the piece which celebrates it. Graves naturally begins with the hullabaloo surrounding Kanye at the end of the aughts. His ego-driven outbursts. His public breakup. His misunderstood 4th album, a synth- and auto-tune-laden departure from his previous trio of records. What’s more Graves offers us a West that’s practically unrecognizable when compared to the one we’re so accustomed to today, one that’s apologetic, embarrassed and seeking redemption. All the while still feeding his addiction for attention (I suppose that hasn’t changed). And then Graves devotes a chapter to each monolith track, their impetus and subsequent creation. Oftentimes the writer details the samples of which tracks were built upon, rather than the track itself. It’s an interesting, if not esoteric, approach, but then again, the entire 33 1/3 series was founded upon esoterism. And for a record a dense and as monumental as MBDTF, I couldn’t imagine any other treatment. As I read, I coupled the experience with both a viewing of a documentary detailing the album’s creation, as well as listening to the album itself. It’s one I return to often, yet this listening session felt different than others; it was more intricate, thoughtful, appreciative. I like to think I’m a pretty engaged listener – sometimes to the point of fault – and yet I’d never felt so connected with a record I’d already heard literally hundreds of times throughout the years. In fact, Graves’s work brought me back to that magical time when I’d finally broken down from eschewing the hype, and gave in to what amounts to be Kanye West’s crowning achievement. I recall then being left speechless, yet at the ready to talk to any- and everybody about the record. To paraphrase Ye, it’s one helluva album. And sure, that’s putting it rather simply, but what more can I say that hasn’t already been said either by West himself, or most certainly by Kirk Walker Graves? I suppose instead I’ll just sit back and take in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy every which way I can. Again.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This book is the most overwritten text I have ever read, in terms of prose style, vocabulary, hyperbole, and cultural references. The vocabulary is excusable but when combined with the other aspects it became laughable. This book is about two things: (1) Kanye West as pop cultural icon, with a dynamic persona, discussed mostly right before the release of MBDTF and (2) the album MBDTF itself. The analysis of the former was cogent but the latter was inconsistent, sometimes taking the album portion This book is the most overwritten text I have ever read, in terms of prose style, vocabulary, hyperbole, and cultural references. The vocabulary is excusable but when combined with the other aspects it became laughable. This book is about two things: (1) Kanye West as pop cultural icon, with a dynamic persona, discussed mostly right before the release of MBDTF and (2) the album MBDTF itself. The analysis of the former was cogent but the latter was inconsistent, sometimes taking the album portion of the book to talk about Dante or use rhetorical questions to support a spurious assertion. Worse, there was no explicit framework through which to read the album itself. These faults notwithstanding the book itself was indeed quite interesting and some of the analysis of Kanye and his work (and a bit about his collaborators although there should have been more on them, e.g. Rick Ross's part on "Devil in a New Dress" which is almost as good as Yeezy's). The author argues for the cultural importance of Kanye and that his works deserve serious scholarly attention. Many books about hip-hop work at a broader level of analysis, and I'm glad that this work (well, this series) focused on the records themselves. I would have bought it and read it even if I had known how it was written and that a considerable portion of the book was spent on something besides the tracks on the album. I thought of two apologetic arguments for the style, both of which fail. (1) Because Hip-Hop isn't taken seriously among the scholarly community this text needs to be as academic as possible. Response: I dispute the first claim and point to the proliferation of books about hip-hop by scholarly presses such as Oxford and Palgrave, although agree that more studies are absolutely needed, less the scholarly narrative becomes one that "old school" rap is somehow superior to anything after the death of The Notorious B.I.G. or thereabouts. Also, academic discourse is characterized by rigorous argumentation and clarity of discourse and that was not the case for this text. If anything the references the Shelley and Heidegger (I don't think that was explicit but I do remember the phrase "Being-in-the-world") make it feel pseudo-academic (I kind of felt like I was reading Judith Butler at points, for what it's worth) (2) The style reflects the subject matter, Response - Scholarship should not sound like what it studies. Look at Heidegger scholarship. If it sounds like Heidegger, it's going to make no sense. Even if this argument is directed at the tone of the work it also fails at making it more scholarly or even pleasant to read. The author also misuses the phrase "beg the question" on page 29. If you're still with me to this point know that fans of Kanye West SHOULD read this book. I'm very happy it exists. Also, if you're ever curious how an over-eager UChicago first year writes a paper for the humanities core seminary read this book (although Mr. Graves went to Princeton).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Suite

    This is the first book I read in this series of books dedicated to music albums., And the experience was a rich one. If you know me personally, you'll know that I am fanatical about Kanye West. I've always been. I make no apologies. (I've had friends and strangers get mad at me just because I dare to say I love his music. And honestly speaking, that makes Kanye's appeal even more attractive. Just saying). Kanye fascinates me (and infuriates me!!). But more importantly, his music fascinates me. My This is the first book I read in this series of books dedicated to music albums., And the experience was a rich one. If you know me personally, you'll know that I am fanatical about Kanye West. I've always been. I make no apologies. (I've had friends and strangers get mad at me just because I dare to say I love his music. And honestly speaking, that makes Kanye's appeal even more attractive. Just saying). Kanye fascinates me (and infuriates me!!). But more importantly, his music fascinates me. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is my favorite album of all time, so reading this was a joy and a must-read. It delivered. Astute and/or thought-provoking  observations with razor sharp music criticism. You can tell that the author is a fanboy, like me. But he was able to highlight Kanye's neuroses and his helpless attraction to excess. The first half is more about Kanye: the man. The second half is an in-depth breakdown of each song from the album's track listing. The chapter on the song "Runaway" was a work of magic. 

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt Neal

    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kirk Walker Graves is a nonfiction introspective and philosophy on the Kanye West album of the same name. (4) The author made a pointed claim early on in the book: Graves had not met or attempted to contact Kanye West or any of the involved parties in the making of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in order to gain special knowledge on the production of the record. Instead, Graves collects knowledge made publicly available through interviews, blog posts, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kirk Walker Graves is a nonfiction introspective and philosophy on the Kanye West album of the same name. (4) The author made a pointed claim early on in the book: Graves had not met or attempted to contact Kanye West or any of the involved parties in the making of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in order to gain special knowledge on the production of the record. Instead, Graves collects knowledge made publicly available through interviews, blog posts, and of course, the album itself. Graves tells the story of the album’s creation, internal themes, and occurrences in Ye’s life through the eyes (and with the resources) of every regular listener who has been captivated by the record since its release in 2010, albeit with an apparent dedication to decoding every second of the album’s playtime and relating it to the past and present events in American pop culture. The amount of depth found in the analysis of this album is astounding. Graves breaks down obvious lyrical themes with ease at the beginning of each chapter, but what provides the most insight is his attention to sonic detail and its connections to popular cultural themes that the author believes inspired the LP. For example, the book cites the effect applied to West’s voice in the second track Gorgeous as a reflection of the way Ye feels he speaks to the vast audience of his everyday critics: loud but canned; clear yet distorted. It is in these moments where the book distinguishes itself from the many reviews written about this album, and becomes an in-depth and emotional analysis of how it has seemed to quickly become a modern-day classic. While the book claims to contain no ‘special knowledge’, it is clear that the facts are very well researched, every interview, tweet and important event (such as a concert or release announcement) described in detail and made to connect to whatever claim is being made. The book was organized into an individual analysis of each track, in the order of the tracklist that you can see on the back of your jewel case. This helps to provide a sense of progression throughout the book, as Kanye originally sculpted My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to contain. (5) Kanye is known for his harsh critics, from music snobs to your mom to multiple Presidents of the United States. This book acknowledges such criticism, and pokes fun at it occasionally by using popular stereotypes to provide comic relief. This said, since said criticism is one of the main inspirations for the making of MBDTF, the author approaches Kanye and his work with a most indifferent point of view, citing sources for all of his claims and keeping his analysis free of bias. At times, the author’s love for the album become very apparent, some sentences glowing with admiration for Ye’s musical prowess. However this mostly serves to highlight the amount of detail and thought put into Twisted Fantasy. Readers interested in finding a ‘clean’ analysis of West’s work and personal life without being bombarded with memes and hateful blog posts can not go wrong with this book. Matt Neal

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    An overwritten walkthrough of the album. Not much insight a hardcore listener doesn't already have and zero insight into the making of the album. Additionally, I found it annoying that the author's understanding of the words "staccato" and "sample" are simply incorrect. An overwritten walkthrough of the album. Not much insight a hardcore listener doesn't already have and zero insight into the making of the album. Additionally, I found it annoying that the author's understanding of the words "staccato" and "sample" are simply incorrect.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zane

    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s masterpiece, his boldest declaration and his grandest project. (Although, personally, I would place The Life of Pablo, Yeezus and Kids See Ghosts above MBDTF in my ranked list). For this reason, I was eager to read Kirk Walker Graves’ analysis on the album. Graves does a good job at really putting the album into the context of Kanye’s life and why it was so important for that specific moment in time. I do think the preamble to the actual album analysi My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is Kanye’s masterpiece, his boldest declaration and his grandest project. (Although, personally, I would place The Life of Pablo, Yeezus and Kids See Ghosts above MBDTF in my ranked list). For this reason, I was eager to read Kirk Walker Graves’ analysis on the album. Graves does a good job at really putting the album into the context of Kanye’s life and why it was so important for that specific moment in time. I do think the preamble to the actual album analysis was a little too long but it gives us a pretty good idea of Kanye and how his identity is in the stitches and fabric of the album. I especially liked the chapter on Kanye’s epic and emotional track, Runaway, which Graves has an amazing section talking about the power of sampling. It really puts the approach into a whole new perspective stating “Three separate histories are compressed into a sonic pulse, yet this nested independence fosters the creation of a unique living thing, something far greater than its parts”. He also perfectly and brilliantly describes the distorted and incomprehensible vocal outro of that song as someone who has something important to say but doesn’t have the language to say it. He sometimes touches on songs placements in the track-list which is a very important factor to me. His explanation of ‘Hell of a Life’ after ‘Runaway’ actually changed my mind on its position in the album. A negative I have is that this book is overwritten as hell. The prose is way to complex for an album analysis. Extravagant wordplay is perfect for describing music, that’s fine - I love that, but when he is touching on context - the overwritten and poetic prose just seems absurd and try-hard. Still, I’ve definitely taken something away from this book - a repeat listen of the album will tell how much exactly. I reckon quite a bit. 3.8 (Also, when briefly talking about the POWER section of the ‘Runaway’ short film, he refers to the Michael Jackson head in the parade as Thriller-era when it’s so clearly not. More likely History-era.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dipanshu Gupta

    "I just needed time alone with my own thoughts Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault My childlike creativity, purity and honesty Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts Reality is catching up with me Taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody" If you're gonna write a book about the greatest album of all time, you better do it justice or else Yeezy and I are gonna come after you. The author displays a deep connection with the music and mythos of Kanye, same as me. He "I just needed time alone with my own thoughts Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault My childlike creativity, purity and honesty Is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts Reality is catching up with me Taking my inner child, I’m fighting for custody" If you're gonna write a book about the greatest album of all time, you better do it justice or else Yeezy and I are gonna come after you. The author displays a deep connection with the music and mythos of Kanye, same as me. He analyses the album from the psyche of Kanye's inner child and the genius he is. It is oxymoron of being a grown up kid that best describes Kanye and is paramount in understanding the body of genius that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is. I still remember the first time I heard this album, when I was 15. I never could understand why I loved this album so much. I had never heard anything by Kanye before, was aloof of his mythos and my friends showed no interest in the album, being submerged into the pop vagaries of the day. Even today when I revisit the album, it reminds me of being in front of a computer in a small room, rapping to every word Yeezy says. The album has a deep connection with me while growing up and revisiting it 7 years later in all it's glorious details made me feel happy like a child. I feel like I'm Kanye when living, Frank Ocean when sad and trying to be Drake. But like Yeezy said, you can kiss my whole ass.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Fisher

    YEEZY YEEZY WHATS GOOD

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sam Levatich

    A good read on the album's context (including both the stakes and social setting for the album and exhaustive detailing of samples used). Analysis is a little overwrought but its not poorly written or argued A good read on the album's context (including both the stakes and social setting for the album and exhaustive detailing of samples used). Analysis is a little overwrought but its not poorly written or argued

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    As a personality Kanye West fascinates me. Personally I think he's the last proper rock star as we know it - excess , narcissism, highly ambitious musical projects and flights into ridiculousness. Not to mention the contradictions in his character. I mean the guy can rap about how great he is and yet he records a highly personal album about his dead mother (the underrated 808 & Heartbreaks) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is West's mega statement and one of the best albums in the last five yea As a personality Kanye West fascinates me. Personally I think he's the last proper rock star as we know it - excess , narcissism, highly ambitious musical projects and flights into ridiculousness. Not to mention the contradictions in his character. I mean the guy can rap about how great he is and yet he records a highly personal album about his dead mother (the underrated 808 & Heartbreaks) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is West's mega statement and one of the best albums in the last five years, so I was very eagerly looking forward to see if it's 33 1/3 treatment would give it any justice. Thankfully Walk Graves volume is a highly informative and entertaining read. Not only is there an in depth discussion about the album itself but he dedicates a good chunk of the book to West's background and his slow climb to the top and how he developed his larger than life persona in the process. MBDTF is a fascinating album because it is so huge. From the production scale to the lavish samples and it is West airing out his demons as well. Walker Graves manages to explore West's psyche and how it influenced each of the tracks on MBDTF. I'm secretly hoping that all of Kanye West's albums will get their own 33 1/3 volumes in the future as they have an intricate story to tell but this first step is an amazing one and worth reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Simon Sweetman

    I wanted to be swayed - and it did send me back to the album; I didn't even hate it quite so much but though Graves is a good writer not a lot happens here. That's part of the problem with the album for me, it's loud and colourful but not a lot actually happens. The discussion around social media and today's idea of heroes is interesting but it comes down to the same argument with Kanye - that bold must be better. I don't hear that in anything he's offered after his second album. I still don't. I wanted to be swayed - and it did send me back to the album; I didn't even hate it quite so much but though Graves is a good writer not a lot happens here. That's part of the problem with the album for me, it's loud and colourful but not a lot actually happens. The discussion around social media and today's idea of heroes is interesting but it comes down to the same argument with Kanye - that bold must be better. I don't hear that in anything he's offered after his second album. I still don't. And though I enjoyed parts of this book I couldn't call it a success; one of the weaker entries into this series. Probably not enough time has passed for any serious discussion around this album too - people are still running on hype.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Better than most 33 1/3s that I've read recently, possibly because it's less "historical" and there's no "I revisited this album to write this." It's more of an essay about who Kanye is in the context of pop music today and how MBDTF is an expression of that. Because of this, it probably won't age too well so read it soon. Better than most 33 1/3s that I've read recently, possibly because it's less "historical" and there's no "I revisited this album to write this." It's more of an essay about who Kanye is in the context of pop music today and how MBDTF is an expression of that. Because of this, it probably won't age too well so read it soon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt Ely

    It's like a 2.6. I round up because it's not bad, per se. Just a bit forgettable. Perhaps I went in with the wrong expectations. I thought this would focus on the history, process, and public reaction to the album, as much as the album itself. Strangely, the author did exactly that in the last chapter for West's next album, Yeezus. But not so with the chapter-per-track main body. In it, the author does a close reading of the lyrics... without very frequently listing the lyrics. It's like a theol It's like a 2.6. I round up because it's not bad, per se. Just a bit forgettable. Perhaps I went in with the wrong expectations. I thought this would focus on the history, process, and public reaction to the album, as much as the album itself. Strangely, the author did exactly that in the last chapter for West's next album, Yeezus. But not so with the chapter-per-track main body. In it, the author does a close reading of the lyrics... without very frequently listing the lyrics. It's like a theologian who alludes to the Bible but never quotes it because, come on, we all have it memorized, right? Why wouldn't you? Perhaps the idea is that we should be listening along while we read? But that notion is not expressed, nor is it necessarily possible for all readers in all circumstances. So instead of learning why this album had such a dramatic impact, how it influenced others, why someone needed to write a book about it, we just get one interpretation of some portions of the album, leaning heavily on descriptions of music videos for guidance. If that's what you're into, great. I thought there were some good insights and I did enjoy revisiting the album. It's a very quick read, so it's not like there's much sunk cost here. But still, it could have been much more memorable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Russell Barton

    Rarely has an author been so desperate to perform auto-fellatio as Kirk Walker Graves is with this book. It’s bombastic, ridiculously over the top and often strays from the point. In some ways therefore it’s an absolutely perfect accompaniment to MBDTF, which, despite being one of the best albums of the last 20 years, could fairly have those same criticisms levelled against it. KWK has clearly set out to write what he thinks is a work to match the creative genius of MBDTF, but sadly he hasn’t got Rarely has an author been so desperate to perform auto-fellatio as Kirk Walker Graves is with this book. It’s bombastic, ridiculously over the top and often strays from the point. In some ways therefore it’s an absolutely perfect accompaniment to MBDTF, which, despite being one of the best albums of the last 20 years, could fairly have those same criticisms levelled against it. KWK has clearly set out to write what he thinks is a work to match the creative genius of MBDTF, but sadly he hasn’t got the chops to pull it off. The fact that he’s never met or spoken to Kanye or anyone else involved in record isn’t necessarily a hindrance but it would have added some colour and balance if he had. If you wan to read a more concise, less bombastic and more informative article about MBDTF the check out ‘Project Runaway’ on complex.com (which is referenced in this book). If however you think you’ll love Kirk like Kirk loves Kirk then give this book a try.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sam Street

    When this book works, it works brilliantly as Walker Graves expertly analyses MBDTF track by track. Other than that, I felt as though he didn’t have much of a structure. A comparison of Kanye’s music to social media felt unfinished and a concert review of the Yeezus tour felt thrown in. Also the question of whether such a new album was worthy of a 33 1/3 book was answered by Walker Graves (he said yes, which i do agree with), but then it seemed he felt he had to continually prove this, by making When this book works, it works brilliantly as Walker Graves expertly analyses MBDTF track by track. Other than that, I felt as though he didn’t have much of a structure. A comparison of Kanye’s music to social media felt unfinished and a concert review of the Yeezus tour felt thrown in. Also the question of whether such a new album was worthy of a 33 1/3 book was answered by Walker Graves (he said yes, which i do agree with), but then it seemed he felt he had to continually prove this, by making out that MBDTF wasn’t just Kanye’s best album, but the best album ever - giving Kanye credit for his producing work and collating of features, which are both noteworthy, but Kanye is hardly the first.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Taylor

    My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West is already one of my favorite albums, so I had to pick this up. Book 1 for my 10 Books I Have To Read for My 12th Grade AP Literature Class, it was a good start. It goes in depth in the beginning on the psyche of Kanye West and then goes into a song by song analysis for one of the best rap records of all time, then talks a little bit about Yeezus and an anecdote from the author’s experience at The Yeezus Tour. Good read for any Kanye or rap fan, lo My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West is already one of my favorite albums, so I had to pick this up. Book 1 for my 10 Books I Have To Read for My 12th Grade AP Literature Class, it was a good start. It goes in depth in the beginning on the psyche of Kanye West and then goes into a song by song analysis for one of the best rap records of all time, then talks a little bit about Yeezus and an anecdote from the author’s experience at The Yeezus Tour. Good read for any Kanye or rap fan, loved it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Juan A. Ramirez

    Laughably pretentious in its straight-male, “Kanye’s NARCISSISM is a REFLECTION of our POST-MODERN DESIRE for INSTANT GRATIFICATION and IDOL WORSHIP” pseudo-profound obviousness. It becomes clear pretty early on the author has nothing new or even interesting to say, but there are worse subjects to read about when finishing my year’s book challenge than the greatest album of the century.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    In this volume of 33 1/3, author Kirk Walker Graves does what most people refuse to do: try and understand Kanye West. I have no idea if Graves likes or hates the artist, but it’s clear that at the very least he respects his work. And honestly that’s all you can ask of someone in regards to Kanye West.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    Quite frankly not a fan of all the overwritten sacrilegious ways the author attempts to parallel his analysis of the album. There is some great reviewing done, but some of these lines are morally offensive and really have no place in this type of literature other than to stir controversy or attempt to appear more accademic.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Oliver

    I think these books are probably not for me but I bought a bunch of them so this is my life now. I enjoyed this Kanye book more than I liked the one about Arcade Fire, so that's something. Still, they are overpriced and feel (to me) like good info packed along with a bunch of filler. Meh. I think these books are probably not for me but I bought a bunch of them so this is my life now. I enjoyed this Kanye book more than I liked the one about Arcade Fire, so that's something. Still, they are overpriced and feel (to me) like good info packed along with a bunch of filler. Meh.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mali

    Maybe I expected too much, hoping for more than a book long Pitchfork review written by a human thesaurus. When the author explicitly stated he made no effort to contact anyone involved in the making of this album, I should have known what I was getting into.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tia

    i learned a bunch about the album, from its production, rollout, and reception. cool bits of music history too. but the author uses so many uncommon thesaurus words it’s almost unreadable at times (think of the most pretentious pitchfork review).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I want more. I want to write this in conversations with Graves. I am glad it was he who wrote it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonah

    Great analysis of a great album. Went much deeper than I was anticipating.

  27. 4 out of 5

    federico lemses

    i never really felt such an album like this one reach out to me, and reading the book was captivating. It seems that everything that revolves around this album is incredible.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Sloan

    Dissect did it so much better.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonny Brick

    I miss the old Kanye, whose ideas at least had an editor.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen O'Neal

    This book starts off slowly and unevenly with the author pontificating on seemingly everything in the world but Kanye West and his music. However, the book improved quickly once Kirk Walker Graves actually begins writing in depth about the songs on the album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." This book starts off slowly and unevenly with the author pontificating on seemingly everything in the world but Kanye West and his music. However, the book improved quickly once Kirk Walker Graves actually begins writing in depth about the songs on the album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

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