Kanye West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy delighted music critics when it came out in November. The fifth release from the always-controversial rapper wowed everyone from new-media tastemakers (Pitchfork gave the album a rare 10.0 rating) to old-guard stalwarts (Rolling Stone awarded it 5 stars out of 5), and enjoyed a "tyrannical reign" at the top of critics' best-of-the-year lists. But now some writers are wondering whether the near-universal acclaim was excessive—and whether the album is as good as it's cracked up to be. Why are they second-guessing what many still consider a masterpiece?
The album's racism has been ignored: This album is "incredibly, almost casually, racist," says Ta Nehisi-Coates in The Atlantic, and "I'm a little amazed" that more people haven't taken issue with that — not to mention West's "empty employment of white women as objects." This is "the work of a failed provocateur boorishly brandishing his ancient affects."
"On white she-devils"
It inspired a herd mentality: While My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a "phenomenal album," says Jon Caramanica at The New York Times, the critical consenus about it "is less a measure of greatness than of social climate." All the "fawning" wasn't just about West's music; it had to do with other "intangibles," from West's critic-approved use of the Internet to the album's late release date, which made it fresh in the critics' minds when they compliled their year-end lists.
"Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
Diddy's album might be better, even with less buzz: Last Train to Paris, the new "shiny action movie of a record" from Diddy, has a lot in common with West's epic, says Nitsuh Abebe at New York. But when Diddy's album "hits its mood right," it goes "in a direction that's often more vital and interesting" than the "arty touchstones" that West prefers. Diddy's problem is that "there's no series of ridiculous tweets" he could have used to get us to pay as much attention to his album "as we did to Kanye West's similarly ridiculous showstopper."
"Could Diddy's arty electronic epic be more interesting than Kanye's art-rocky one?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
- Happy Thanksgiving! 7 holiday-themed editorial cartoons
Subscribe to the Week