The soothing crackle of a since stopped-spinning record fizzles out as the pin is knocked off its course. The hand reaches for a half-empty bottle of Hennessy, almost sending it plummeting over the edge of the table. The hand brings it to the lips, thirsting for the numbness. They move in unison, the whisky sumptuously sliding down the throat. The hand returns the bottle to the table, restarting the record. The familiar poppy tones of Michael Jackson's THRILLER echoes throughout the studio. The body stands, swaying gently alone in the room. The heart beats. This is where the music comes from. No more "hey mama", no more fiancé. The women have left the man all alone. The dark night of the soul. The body stops swaying. The body stands still. The brain thinks. The heart keeps beating. The music comes from there. The ideas and melodies, they don't come from the man's brain or genius. But from his heart. This is where they flow from. And they don't stop.

With dropout bear rocketing off to space on the cover of his last album, in this one Kanye truly takes us there. 808S & HEARTBREAK is perhaps the ultimate "throwback" album, both for Kanye as a musician and for us, the listeners, looking back now. The nostalgia present revisiting this album is undeniable; the memories that highlights such as "Love Lockdown" and its bass thumping into my heart brings back (mostly of year-five school disco's) is filled with a certain sentimentality. That eight-oh-eight manufactured heartbeat, pulsing incessantly, is like some sort of sense memory. Songs such as these were the soundtrack to many of my generation's adolescence, and 808S boasts some of the most played tracks of anyone who ever owned an mp3 player.

 

This album is Kanye at his most "Kanye", musically-wise; the collision of electronic 808s and choir music, even from the first track, is distinctly "Kanye" and is something that even has traces in albums as recent as PABLO. This is Kanye at his most raw; after the loss of his fiancé and death of his mother, this is Kanye receding to the sounds he remembers listening to as a child, simple, stripped back synth and electronic tones. This is Kanye at his most emotional; his obvious use of autotune, the warped robotic voice is how he coped. By masking his pain with autotune and synthesising his emptiness into music, the distance and detachment I'm sure he was experiencing becomes intrinsically woven into the album.

 

And this stands apart as Kanye's most cinematic album (with tracks such as "Robocop" even going as far as to lift samples from films), with some of the album such as "Welcome to Heartbreak" almost feeling as if it is playing in slow-motion. This track (with an undeniable introduction into the absolute mainstream for Kid Cudi), constantly feels like Kanye is playing with time. This track, especially compared to his post-North tracks, is a time capsule of a certain time in Kanye's life... maybe even a certain Kanye. The "old Kanye". The difference between Kanye today and Kanye back then isn't as great as people think, but when people say "the old Kanye", I'm sure this is what they mean.

With dropout bear rocketing off to space on the cover of his last album, in this one Kanye truly takes us there. 808S & HEARTBREAK is perhaps the ultimate "throwback" album, both for Kanye as a musician and for us, the listeners, looking back now. The nostalgia present revisiting this album is undeniable; the memories that highlights such as "Love Lockdown" and its bass thumping into my heart brings back (mostly of year-five school disco's) is filled with a certain sentimentality. That eight-oh-eight manufactured heartbeat, pulsing incessantly, is like some sort of sense memory. Songs such as these were the soundtrack to many of my generation's adolescence, and 808S boasts some of the most played tracks of anyone who ever owned an mp3 player.

 

This album is Kanye at his most "Kanye", musically-wise; the collision of electronic 808s and choir music, even from the first track, is distinctly "Kanye" and is something that even has traces in albums as recent as PABLO. This is Kanye at his most raw; after the loss of his fiancé and death of his mother, this is Kanye receding to the sounds he remembers listening to as a child, simple, stripped back synth and electronic tones. This is Kanye at his most emotional; his obvious use of autotune, the warped robotic voice is how he coped. By masking his pain with autotune and synthesising his emptiness into music, the distance and detachment I'm sure he was experiencing becomes intrinsically woven into the album.

 

And this stands apart as Kanye's most cinematic album (with tracks such as "Robocop" even going as far as to lift samples from films), with some of the album such as "Welcome to Heartbreak" almost feeling as if it is playing in slow-motion. This track (with an undeniable introduction into the absolute mainstream for Kid Cudi), constantly feels like Kanye is playing with time. This track, especially compared to his post-North tracks, is a time capsule of a certain time in Kanye's life... maybe even a certain Kanye. The "old Kanye". The difference between Kanye today and Kanye back then isn't as great as people think, but when people say "the old Kanye", I'm sure this is what they mean.

- Written and Designed by Bryson Edward Howe

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