It is tempting to say that Kanye West has officially jumped the shark with "808s and Heartbreak", but that isn't right. I firmly believe that Kanye can go back to creating fun, catchy, and interesting music. No, he didn't jump the shark: this is Kanye's "I'm Keith Hernandez" record.
It makes sense, right? The Ye gets widely ridiculed for his ego, but if
you actually listen to him rap you know that the ego is a thin sheet of
ice covering the sea of his insecurity. For just one example from his music: on his last record,
"Graduation", the entire last track is Ye whining that Jay-Z, who gave
him his break as a producer on 2001's "The Blueprint", doesn't give him
the respect he deserves. And he is notorious for flipping out on his blog, most famously at an Entertainment Weekly
reporter for giving his "Glow In the Dark Tour" a B+. His response?
Yo, anybody that's not a fan; don't come to my show. For
what?! To try and throw ya'll two cents in? Ya'll rated my album shitty
and now ya'll come to the show and give it a B+. What's a B+ mean? I'm
an extremist. It's either pass or fail! A+ or F-! You know what, fuck
you and the whole fucking staff!!!
Now, I don't know this to be fact, but I'm betting I'm not too far off base in saying that the West does not take criticism well. Obviously this is part of the territory: you don't make it through the inevitable years of rejection all the way to the top of the music business if you don't believe in yourself. But Kanye is an extremist: it's either an A+ or an F-. He has given himself an A+.
So maybe there were people in Kanye's life that were telling him, "Hey, Kanye, are you sure you want to do all the beats with just an 808 drum machine? Part of the appeal of your last three albums has been the great production values on the music tracks," or, "Kanye, your raps are hot but you are not a singer, are you sure you don't want to just rap and bring it a guest vocalist to do the melody?" But Kanye just said: "Fuck you, I'm doing this whole album with the drum machine and an auto-tuner. You get an F-."
Let's hope he got that out of his system, because "808s and Heartbreak" is terrible. I didn't believe it until I listened to it, but it is true: he uses the auto-tuner on every track. Every single one. And it is already annoying halfway through the first track.
But it isn't just the auto-tuner. Kanye and his auto-tuner show up on the third track off of John Legend's "Evolver", called "It's Over", and that track is sizzling (ps: Listen to "Evolver" by John Legend). On "808s", it is the whole package that fails: the auto-tuner is horrible, the beats are limp, and the lyrics are rote. I can't believe the same guy who brought us "The way school need teachers/The way Kathy Lee needed Regis/That's the way I need Jesus" is now bringing "How could you be so/cold as the winter wind when it breeze, yo".
Okay, Kanye. We get it. You can do whatever you want. You are Keith Hernandez. But this time, you get an F-.