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Lou Reed > Kanye West - The Talkhouse


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"New Slaves" has that line "Y'all throwin' contracts at me/ You know that niggas can't read."  Wow, wow,wow.  That is an amazing thing to put in a lyric.  That's a serious accusation in the middle of this rant at other people: an accusation of himself.  As if he's some piece of shit from the street who doesn't know nothing.  Yeah, right — your mom was a college English professor.

He starts off cool on that track but he winds up yelling at the top of his voice.  I think he maybe had a couple of great lines already written for this song but then when he recorded the vocal, but then he just let loose with it and trusted his instincts.  Because I can't imagine actually writing down most of these lines.  But that's just me.

But musically, he nails it beyond belief on"New Slaves."  It's mainly just voice and one or two synths, very sparse, and then it suddenly breaks out into this incredible melodic… God knows what.  Frank Ocean sings this soaring part, then it segues into a moody sample of some Hungarian rock band from the '70s.  It literally gives me goosebumps.  It's like the visuals at the end of the new Superman movie — just overwhelmingly incredible.  I played it over and over.

Some people ask why he's screaming on "I Am a God."  It's not like a James Brown scream — it's a real scream of terror.  It makes my hair stand on end.  He knows they could turn on him in two seconds.  By "they" I mean the public, the fickle audience.  He could kill Taylor Swift and it would all be over.

The juxtaposition of vocal tones on "Blood on the Leaves" is incredible — that pitched-up sample of Nina Simone singing "Strange Fruit" doing a call-and-response with Kanye's very relaxed Autotuned voice.  That is fascinating, aurally, nothing short of spectacular.  And holy shit, it's so gorgeous rhythmically, where sometimes the vocal parts are matched and sometimes they clash.  He's so sad in this song.  He's surrounded by everyone except the one he wants — he had this love ripped away from him, before he even knew it.  "I know there ain't nothing wrong with me… something strange is happening."  Well, surprise, surprise — welcome to the real world, Kanye.

It's fascinating — it's very poignant, but there's nothing warm about it, sonically — it's really electronic, and after a while, his voice and the synth are virtually the same.  But I don't think that's a statement about anything — it's just something he heard, and then he made it so you could hear it too.

At so many points in this album, the music breaks into this melody, and it's glorious — I mean, glorious.  He has to know that — why else would you do that?  He's not just banging his head against the wall, but he acts as though he is.  He doesn't want to seem precious, he wants to keep his cred.

And sometimes it's like a synth orchestra.  I've never heard anything like it — I've heard people try to do it but no way, it just comes out tacky.  Kanye is there.  It's like his video for "Runaway," with the ballet dancers — it was like, look out, this guy is making connections.  You could bring one into the other — ballet into hip-hop — they're not actually contradictory, and he knew that, he could see it immediately.  He obviously can hear that all styles are the same, somewhere deep in their heart, there's a connection.  It's all the same shit, it's all music — that's what makes him great.  If you like sound, listen to what he's giving you. Majestic and inspiring.

Lou Reed isn't the only one who's loving Kanye's new album. I've seen other favorable reviews online.

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