My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 22, 2010 (2010-11-22)
Recorded2009–2010
Studio
Genre Hip hop
Length68:36
Label
Producer
Kanye West chronology
VH1 Storytellers
(2010)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
(2010)
Watch the Throne
(2011)
Alternate cover
MBDTF ALT.jpg
Physical release sold in retail stores
Singles from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  1. "Power"
    Released: July 1, 2010
  2. "Runaway"
    Released: October 4, 2010
  3. "Monster"
    Released: October 23, 2010
  4. "All of the Lights"
    Released: January 18, 2011

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the fifth studio album by American rapper and producer Kanye West. It was released on November 22, 2010, by Def Jam Recordings and Roc-A-Fella Records.

Kanye West American rapper, singer, and record producer from Illinois

Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. Over the course of his career, West has been an instigator of various developments within mainstream hip hop and popular music at large. His musical career has drawn on varied influences including soul, R&B, electro, indie rock, synth-pop, and industrial music, in addition to influences from other art mediums including visual art and architecture.

Def Jam Recordings American record label

Def Jam Recordings is an American record label focused predominantly on hip hop, pop, and urban music, owned by Universal Music Group. In the UK, the label takes on the name Def Jam UK and is operated through Virgin EMI Records, while in Japan, it is known as Def Jam Japan, operating through Universal Music Japan. The label distributes releases of various record labels, including Kanye West's GOOD Music, and Listen Up Forever Records, headed by producer, Ronny J. Current artists include Justin Bieber, Logic, Big Sean, Kanye West, Nas, 2 Chainz, Teyana Taylor, YG, Dave East, Jeezy, Jeremih, Q-Tip, Valee, Pusha T, Vince Staples, Fabolous, Desiigner and Jhené Aiko.

Roc-A-Fella Records was an American record label founded by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Damon "Dame" Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1995. It was operated as a division of Def Jam Recordings.

Contents

Following a period of public and legal controversy, West retreated to a "self-imposed exile" in Hawaii in 2009. There, he worked on the album in a communal recording environment that involved numerous contributing musicians and producers. The recording sessions featured guest appearances from Bon Iver, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, and Raekwon, among others.

Bon Iver American indie folk band

Bon Iver is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. The name "Bon Iver" derives from the French phrase bon hiver, taken from a greeting on Northern Exposure.

Jay-Z American rapper, entrepreneur, record executive, songwriter, producer and investor from New York

Shawn Corey Carter, known professionally as Jay-Z, is an American rapper, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, and record executive. Considered among the best rappers of all time, he is regarded as one of the world's most significant cultural icons and has been a global figure in popular culture for over two decades.

Pusha T American rapper and record executive from Virginia

Terrence LeVarr Thornton, better known by his stage name Pusha T, is an American rapper, songwriter and record executive. He initially gained major recognition as half of hip hop duo Clipse, alongside his brother and fellow rapper No Malice, with whom he founded Re-Up Records. In September 2010, Thornton announced his signing to Kanye West's GOOD Music imprint, under the aegis of Def Jam Recordings. In March 2011, he released his first solo project, a mixtape titled Fear of God. Thornton released his debut solo album, My Name Is My Name, in October 2013. In November 2015, Kanye West appointed Pusha T to take over his role as president of GOOD Music.

The album was produced mainly by West, alongside a variety of high-profile producers such as Mike Dean, No I.D., Jeff Bhasker, RZA, S1, Bink, and DJ Frank E. It has been noted by music journalists for its maximalist aesthetic and opulent production quality with elements of West's previous works, including soul, baroque, electro, and symphonic styles, as well as progressive rock influences. Thematically, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy explores celebrity, consumer culture, race, and the idealism of the American Dream.

Michael George Dean is an American hip hop record producer, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Houston, Texas. Dean is best known for recording and mixing songs for major artists across the American hip hop industry such as Kanye West, 2Pac, Scarface, Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Jay-Z, and Desiigner.

No I.D. American musician

Ernest Dion Wilson, professionally known as No I.D., formerly Immenslope, is an American hip hop and R&B music producer from Chicago, Illinois. Wilson is also a disc jockey (DJ), music arranger and rapper, having released an album in 1997, titled Accept Your Own and Be Yourself , under Relativity Records. He is perhaps best known for his early work with Chicago-based rapper Common. He has since become a heavily sought-out and high-profile producer, producing hit singles such as "Smile" by G-Unit, "Outta My System" and "Let Me Hold You" by Bow Wow, "Heartless" by Kanye West, "D.O.A." by Jay-Z and "My Last" by Big Sean and Chris Brown.

Jeff Bhasker is an American record producer, songwriter, keyboardist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. He collaborated with rapper and producer Kanye West on the albums 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne. He has won Grammy Awards for the songs "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, "All of the Lights" by Kanye West, "We Are Young" by Fun., and "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson. Bhasker received the 2016 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical for co-producing Mark Ronson's album Uptown Special and producing Nate Ruess's album Grand Romantic among other records.

To help market the album, West released free songs through his GOOD Fridays series and four singles: the Billboard hits "Power", "Monster", and "Runaway", and the international hit "All of the Lights". It was also promoted with music festival performances by the rapper and a short film set to the album's music, Runaway .

GOOD Fridays was a weekly free music release by rapper Kanye West, launched in support of his fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The intention was to release a free new song every Friday for a few months to promote his album, and the weekly tracks generally featured various rappers from his label, GOOD Music, and other artists he usually collaborated with. All of the GOOD Friday tracks come with their own cover art. West initially announced that the free music program releases songs from August 20, 2010 to Christmas 2010. However at the beginning of November, West announced that he was extending GOOD Fridays until the end of January. 15 GOOD Friday tracks have been released through the program and four tracks appeared on West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs and albums in the United States and elsewhere. The results are published in Billboard magazine. Billboard biz, the online extension of the Billboard charts, provides additional weekly charts. There are also Year End charts. The charts may be dedicated to specific genre such as R&B, country or rock, or they may cover all genres. The charts can be ranked according to sales, streams or airplay, and for main song charts such as the Hot 100 song chart, all three pools of data are used to compile the charts. For the Billboard 200 album chart, streams and track sales are included in addition to album sales.

Power (Kanye West song) single by Kanye West

"Power" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West, released as the lead single from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song features additional vocals by soul singer Dwele and is co-produced by West and Symbolyc One. It is built around samples of "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson, "Afromerica" by Continent Number 6, and "It's Your Thing" by Cold Grits. After having recorded it in Hawaii, West reported that he spent 5,000 hours writing "Power". In its lyrics, West comments about the United States, his mental health and his critics. Its chorus features an abrasive vocal-riff.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold 1.3 million copies in the United States. [1] It was a widespread critical success and named the best album of 2010 in many publications' critics polls, including the Pazz & Jop. Several professionally curated lists later ranked it among the greatest albums of all time.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Pazz & Jop annual music poll

Pazz & Jop is an annual poll of musical releases compiled by American newspaper The Village Voice, publishing lists of the year's top releases for 1971 and each year between 1974 and 2017. The polls are tabulated from the submitted year-end top 10 lists of hundreds of music critics. It was named in acknowledgement of the defunct magazine Jazz & Pop, and adopted the ratings system used in that publication's annual critics poll.

Background

The album was conceived during West's self-imposed exile in Oahu, Hawaii, following a period of legal and public image controversy amid an overworked mental state. [2] West later said that his fatigue from overworking led to his controversial outburst at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, his disgust with its ensuing media response, and his hiatus from recording. [2] Amid negative response to the incident, [3] his scheduled tour with recording artist Lady Gaga in promotion of his previous album, 808s & Heartbreak , was cancelled on October 1, 2009, without citing a reason. [4]

2009 MTV Video Music Awards award ceremony

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards took place on September 13, 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, honoring the best music videos from June 19, 2008, to June 29, 2009. Comedian Russell Brand hosted the event for the second time in a row. The awards were held a few months after Michael Jackson died. The VMAs dedicated the night to Jackson with an opening performance featuring a music video montage medley with dancers performing Jackson's choreography and concluding with a special appearance by Janet Jackson performing her duet "Scream" alongside footage of her brother. Madonna opened the show with a speech about Jackson. For the finale of the show, the trailer for Michael Jackson's This Is It was shown for the first time.

Fame Kills: Starring Kanye West and Lady Gaga

Fame Kills: Starring Kanye West and Lady Gaga was a planned co-headlining concert tour by American rapper Kanye West and singer Lady Gaga. For the tour, which would have supported West's fourth album 808s & Heartbreak (2008) and Gaga's The Fame Monster EP (2009), the pair conceived a production that would unite their different musical audiences. The tour was scheduled to run from November 2009 to January 2010, but was canceled after public controversy regarding West's interruption of Taylor Swift's Best Female Video speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Shortly after the cancellation, Gaga embarked on her own tour, The Monster Ball Tour, while West took a break from his career.

Lady Gaga American singer, songwriter, and actress

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She is known for her unconventionality, provocative work, and visual experimentation. Gaga began performing as a teenager, singing at open mic nights and acting in school plays. She studied at Collaborative Arts Project 21, through New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, before dropping out to pursue a music career. When Def Jam Recordings canceled her contract, she worked as a songwriter for Sony/ATV Music Publishing, where Akon helped her sign a joint deal with Interscope Records and his own label KonLive Distribution in 2007. She rose to prominence the following year with her debut album, the electropop record The Fame, and its chart-topping singles "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". A follow-up EP, The Fame Monster (2009), featuring the singles "Bad Romance", "Telephone" and "Alejandro", was also successful.

Recording and production

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was recorded in sessions at Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, with additional recording at Glenwood Place Studios in Burbank, California, and at Electric Lady Studios and Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City. [5] It was reported that West spent over $3 million in expenses from his record label Def Jam recording the album, [6] making it one of the most expensive albums ever made. [7] [8] He later explained the initial recording process to Noah Callahan-Bever, Complex editor-in-chief and West's confidant at the time, who said that "he'd holed up in Hawaii and was importing his favorite producers and artists to work on and inspire his recording. Rap Camp!" [2] Artists who were reported to have participated in the sessions for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy included Raekwon, RZA, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Charlie Wilson, Big Sean, Cyhi the Prynce, Swizz Beatz, [9] Dwele, Nicki Minaj, [10] T.I., [11] [12] Drake, Common, Jay-Z, [13] John Legend, Fergie, Rihanna, The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Elton John, [14] M.I.A., [15] Justin Vernon, Seal, Beyoncé, [16] Kid Cudi, Mos Def, Santigold, Alicia Keys, Elly Jackson, [17] and Tony Williams. [18] Record producers who participated in the sessions with West included Q-Tip, RZA, DJ Premier, [19] Madlib, [20] Statik Selektah, [21] and Pete Rock. [22] [23] Madlib said he made five beats for the album, [20] while DJ Premier said his beats were ultimately discarded. [23]

Nicki Minaj cropped.jpg
Kid Cudi 2010 2 (crop).jpg
Nicki Minaj (left) and Kid Cudi (right) each performed vocals for multiple tracks on the album.

West, who had previously recorded at Avex for 808s & Heartbreak, block-booked the studio's three session rooms simultaneously for 24 hours a day to work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. [2] According to Noah Callahan-Bever, who visited West during the recording sessions, "when he hits a creative wall... he heads to another studio room to make progress on another song". [2] West never slept a full night at the "glass-enclosed mansion" house he had rented, opting instead to take power naps in a studio chair or couch 90 minutes at a time. Engineers worked around the clock, as West bounced from room to room. This assiduous work ethic led to West employing two private chefs, one for hot food, and one for cold food. [24] Before recording in the afternoon, West and most of his crew played games of 21 against locals at the Honolulu YMCA for leisure. [2] Kid Cudi smoked marijuana in preparation and worked out on a treadmill, while RZA worked out in the weight room. [2] [25] West held breakfast each morning at his Diamond Head residence for his crew. [2]

Throughout the album's development, West elicited other producers and musicians to weigh in on its music with conversations and contributions at the studio. [2] In observing discussions among them during his visit, Callahan-Bever noted: "Despite the heavyweights assembled, the egos rarely clash; talks are sprawling, enlightening, and productive ... we are here to contribute, challenge, and inspire". [2] In an interview with Callahan-Bever, Q-Tip described the process as "music by committee" and elaborated on its significance to the sessions and West's work ethic:

He'll go, ‘Check this out, tell me what you think.’ Which speaks volumes about who he is and how he sees and views people. Every person has a voice and an idea, so he's sincerely looking to hear what you have to say—good, bad, or whatever ... When he has his beats or his rhymes, he offers them to the committee and we're all invited to dissect, strip, or add on to what he's already started. By the end of the sessions, you see how he integrates and transforms everyone's contributions, so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. He's a real wizard at it. What he does is alchemy, really. [2]

Pete Rock said of his studio experience with West, "He's definitely hip-hop, his roots, I was testing him on joints...He takes it to another level which is dope. He had these musicians and this song, they played around my little raggedy beat and made it real. I love the way he works – he goes from one room, writing rhymes then goes to another beat and goes to another room and does something else – I love what he's done". [26] Rapper Pusha T characterized the album as "a collage of sounds" and found West's methods unorthodox when recording, saying that "We could easily be working on one song, thinking we're in a mode, and he'll hear a sound from someone like [producer] Jeff Bhasker and immediately turn his whole attention to that sound and go through his mental Rolodex to where that sound belongs on his album, and then it goes straight to that song, immediately". [2] DJ Premier said of the production in comparison to West's previous work, "Well, first of all, if you look at all of Kanye West's output, he actually did a lot to bring back sampling and make it cool again, even though he's more of a mainstream artist...but his new album is strictly hard beats and rhyme. He's totally done with electro. You're gonna be surprised what you hear". [27]

To prevent any of the material from leaking onto the Internet, West made the recording of the album as secretive as he could; he instituted a "No tweeting, no talking, no e-mailing" rule for others at the sessions to abide by. [2] Pusha T recalled West's attitude in an interview for Rolling Stone , saying that "then there happened to be a leak, and I remember Kanye ranting and raving, like, 'Fuck this! We're not going to ever work there again! We're going to work in hotel rooms!'" [28] West subsequently recorded in hotel rooms for Watch the Throne , his 2011 album with Jay-Z. [29]

Musical style

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's music has been noted by writers for incorporating elements from West's previous four albums. [30] [31] [32] Entertainment Weekly 's Simon Vozick-Levinson perceives that such elements "all recur at various points", namely "the luxurious soul of 2004's The College Dropout , the symphonic pomp of Late Registration , the gloss of 2007's Graduation , and the emotionally exhausted electro of 2008's 808s & Heartbreak ". [31] Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice writes that West "absorb[ed] the gifts of his handpicked collaborators, and occasionally elevat[ed] them" on previous studio albums, noting collaborators and elements as Jon Brion for Late Registration ("arranging orchestral majesty"), DJ Toomp for Graduation ("adapted DJ Toomp's oozing menace"), and Kid Cudi for 808s & Heartbreak ("Cudi's moaning melodies became elemental"). [33]

The music was described as maximalist by Jon Caramanica of The New York Times , who also took note of East Coast hip hop elements, [34] and Ryan Dombal from Pitchfork , who deemed it a "culmination" of West's past work: "Musically, [the album] largely continues where 2007's Graduation left off in its maximalist hip-hop bent, with flashes of The College Dropout's comfort-food sampling and Late Registration's baroque instrumentation weaved in seamlessly". [32] AllMusic's Andy Kellman views it as the "culmination" of those albums, while noting that "it does not merely draw characteristics from each one of them. The 13 tracks ... sometimes fuse them together simultaneously. Consequently, the sonic and emotional layers are often difficult to pry apart and enumerate". [30] Kellman denotes "All of the Lights" as most representative of the album's "contrasting elements and maniacal extravagance". [30] Conversely, Robert Christgau from MSN Music comments that the music eschews the "grace" of The College Dropout and Late Registration in favor of "grandiosity" and "the sonic luxuries of this world-beating return to form". [35] In an analysis for Noisey , Phil Witmer regarded the album as "an unprecedented retreat by a hip-hop artist into the weird world" of 1970s progressive rock. [36]

Themes

[West is] the pop star for our morally implicated times; an instinctive consumer with a mouthful of diamonds and furtive bad conscience, a performer who lives the American dream to its fullest with a creeping sense of the spiritual void at its heart. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy captures that essence in full. It's an utterly dazzling portrait of a 21st-century schizoid man that is by turns sickeningly egocentric, contrite, wise, stupid and self-mocking.

—Alex Denney, NME [37]

The album's themes deal primarily with excess and celebrity, [32] [38] [39] and also touch on decadence, grandiosity, escapism, sex, wealth, romance, self-aggrandizement, and self-doubt. [32] [35] [40] [41] [42] [43] Andrew Martin of Prefix Magazine notes the album's ethos as "more is more" and describes it as "a meditation on fame", in which West decries the burden that it entails. [38] My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy also features more open references to drinking and drug use than on West's previous albums. [33] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club describes it as "darkly funny, boldly introspective, and characteristically fame-obsessed", noting "manic highs and depressive lows emotionally" in the album. [44] Christgau found the themes of insecurity and uncertainty on the album to be West's "heart, his message, the reason he's so major", noting the tracks "Hell of a Life" and "Runaway" as examples. [35] Greg Kot, writing in the Chicago Tribune , said West displayed a transparency and "almost pathological allegiance to expressing his emotions, unfiltered". [45]

In the opinion of Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was "a hedonistic exploration into a rich and famous American id", [32] while Chris Martins from Spin said it was an alternately grandiose and eloquent production that "owed as much to the artist's self-aggrandizing ego as to the voracious id that would destroy it publicly". [43] Music writer Ann Powers interprets West's predominant theme on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to be "the crisis of the jet-lagged cosmopolitan ... the exhausted cry of one who's always new in town, chasing whatever goal or girl is in the room, fueled by consumer culture's relentless buzz, but finally left unsatisfied". [40] Powers views the songs to work "as pornographic boasts, romantic disaster stories, devil-haunted dark nights of the soul" and perceives West's "uncertainty about his own place in the world" to be connected to the subject of race, stating "The rootlessness West celebrates and despairs of on 'Fantasy' belongs to someone who feels unwelcome everywhere. This isn't just a personal problem. It's the curse of what the author Michael Eric Dyson has called 'the exceptional black man', embraced for his talents but singled out for the color of his skin". [40]

Songs

The album begins with "Dark Fantasy", opened by Nicki Minaj narrating in an English accent a retelling of Roald Dahl's Cinderella poem. [40] The song introduces themes of decadence and hedonism, [45] with West musing how "the plan was to drink until the pain was over / But what's worse, the pain or the hangover?". [37] His lyrics on the track contain various musical and popular culture references, including those to the song "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)", the Lamborghini Murciélago sports car, rapper Nas, fashion designer Phoebe Philo, short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", the song "Sex on Fire", singer Leona Lewis, and television character Steve Urkel. [46] "All of the Lights" incorporates drum 'n' bass breaks and brass fanfare. [37] [47] West's lyrics contain a reference to the death of Michael Jackson in the opening lines and present a narrative of a character who abuses his lover, does prison time, scuffles with her new boyfriend, and subsequently mourns his absence from his child's life. [47] For the song, West enlisted 11 guest vocalists, including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Elton John, Tony Williams, Elly Jackson, and Rihanna, who sings the song's hook. [48] In an interview for MTV, Jackson said of the song's vocal layering, "He got me to layer up all these vocals with other people, and he just basically wanted to use his favorite vocalists from around the world to create this really unique vocal texture on his record, but it's not the kind of thing where you can pick it out". [49]

"Devil in a New Dress" is built on a sample of Smokey Robinson's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". [42] Its lyrics are about lust and heartache, [42] with sexual and religious imagery described by one critic as "part bedroom allure, part angelic prayer". [50] It is the only track without production by West [5] but features his characteristic style of manipulating the pitch and tempo of classic soul samples. [42] [51] "Runaway" features a piano-based motif comprising a series of sustained descending half and whole notes, [52] with a coda that incorporates light strings and vocoder-singing by West. [42] The narrator's self-critical lyrics reflect on his personality and character flaws. [53] [54] Sean Fennessey cites the song as the point in the album in which "self-laceration overtakes chest-beating", noting West's sung-line "I'm so gifted at finding what I don't like the most". [33] Inspired by his two-year relationship with model Amber Rose, "Hell of a Life" contains a psychedelic rock sample and a narrative about marrying a porn star. [32] [33] According to critic Ryan Dombal, the song "attempts to bend its central credo— 'no more drugs for me, pussy and religion is all I need'— into a noble pursuit ... The song blurs the line between fantasy and reality, sex and romance, love and religion, until no lines exist at all. It's a zonked nirvana with demons underneath; a fragile state that can't help but break apart on the very next song". [32] "Blame Game" is a low-key track about a painful domestic dispute. [55] It features piano by producer Mike Dean, additional vocals by John Legend, [5] and a profane skit by comedian Chris Rock. [56]

"Lost in the World" features tribal drums and samples Bon Iver's "Woods", [57] a song originally written about alienation, applied by West "as the centerpiece of a catchy, communal reverie." [42] It features several musical changes, beginning with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon's faint vocals, followed by 4/4 drums, gospel-styled chorus, [58] and increased tempo, and a final measured tempo. [59] "Lost in the World" transitions into the closing track "Who Will Survive in America". [41] It serves as the album's coda and is built on a sample of Gil Scott-Heron's "Comment No. 1", [37] a blunt, surrealist piece delivered by Scott-Heron in spoken word about the African-American experience and the fated idealism of the American dream. [40] [43] [52] Scott-Heron's original speech, which criticized the 1960s Revolutionary Youth Movement for failing to recognize the more basic needs of the African-American community, is edited to a reduced version on the track that, according to music writer Greg Kot, "retains its essence, that of an African-American male who feels cut off from his country and culture". [45] By contrast, Sean Fennessey interprets it as "a too-serious denouement for an album that is more about the self's little nightmares than some aching societal rejection". [33]

Title and packaging

It was formerly known as Good Ass Job and tentatively Dark Twisted Fantasy. [60] [61] [62] GOOD Music artist Big Sean was the second to announce the title of the album as Good Ass Job. [63] On July 24, 2010, on Kanye West's blog, a banner appeared reading "My Dark Twisted Fantasy Trailer". On July 28, 2010, West announced via his new official Twitter account that "The album is no longer called 'Good Ass Job' I'm bouncing a couple of titles around now." [64] The official title, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was announced on October 5, 2010; [65] the title Good Ass Job will be used for West's upcoming collaborative album with Chance the Rapper. [66]

On October 17, 2010, Kanye West revealed through Twitter that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had been rejected by certain stores because of the cover art. [67] [68] The artwork, by George Condo, shows West being straddled by an armless winged female (a phoenix). [69] Both are nude, and one nipple of the phoenix's breasts and her buttocks are visible. Condo said that Kanye wanted a cover image that would be banned. [70] The painting is centered with a thin yellow border on a red background. The artwork follows along the apparent theme of the album, as well as West's music film Runaway. [71] This is one of five covers; all of them were included with its purchase. [69] A second cover, with a painting of a ballerina by Condo, was posted on the Amazon.com pre-order page. [72] It was intended to be the original artwork for Runaway, but West used a photograph of a ballerina instead. [72]

George Condo and Kanye West met for several hours and listened to tapes of his music. Over the next few days Condo made eight or nine paintings for the album. Two of them were portraits of West, one in extreme closeup, with mismatched eyes and four sets of teeth. Another showed his head, crowned and decapitated, placed sideways on a white slab, impaled by a sword. There was also a painting of a dyspeptic ballerina in a black tutu, a painting of the crown and the sword by themselves in a grassy landscape, and a scene of a naked West on a bed, straddled by a naked white female creature with fearsome features, wings, no arms, and a long, spotted tail, the last one being the original album cover. [70] According to New York , a new painting for the album, "The Priest", was completed by Condo, who described it as an attempt to bring depictions of religious figures into the modern world. [73] In 2015 Billboard named it the 30th best album cover of all time. [74] Elsewhere in 2017, NME listed it as the 7th best album artwork of the 21st Century so far. [75]

Release and promotion

West performing at the SWU Music & Arts Festival in Brazil, 2011 Kanye West SWU Music & Arts Festival 2011.jpg
West performing at the SWU Music & Arts Festival in Brazil, 2011

On October 4, 2010, the release date was announced as November 22, 2010. [65] [76] Prior to its release, West initiated the free music program GOOD Fridays through his website on August 20, 2010, offering a free download of previously unreleased songs each Friday of the week, a portion of which were included on the album. [77] [78] Titled after his imprint label GOOD Music, the program generated considerable publicity in the months leading up to the album's release. [77] Online marketing coordinator Karen Civil said of the program in retrospect, "It's a genius idea. He did something no one had ever done before, and at a point when he was the most hated person in music, he brought excitement back with his Friday releases". [77] G.O.O.D. Fridays was originally intended to continue through December, but was extended by West through January 2011. [79] My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was released as a digital download on Amazon.com at a list price of $3.99, [80] which coincided with the site's $3 discount promotional offer on MP3 purchases made valid through the release week. [81] [82]

In the first week of release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart and sold 496,000 copies in the United States. [83] It was West's fourth consecutive US number-one album, and its debut week served as the fourth-best sales week of 2010, [83] while its first-week digital sales of 224,000 units served as the fourth-highest sales week for a digitally-downloaded album. [84] It spent 85 weeks on the Billboard 200, [85] and by July 2013, it had sold 1,351,000 copies in the US, according to Nielsen SoundScan. [86]

Following the release of the album, West performed headlining sets at several large festivals, including SXSW 2011, Lollapalooza, [87] Austin City Limits , [88] and Coachella 2011; the latter was described by The Hollywood Reporter as "one of the great hip-hop sets of all time." [89] To further promote the album, West performed at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. [90] [91]

Singles

On May 28, 2010, an unfinished version of a speculative first single titled "Power" was leaked onto the Internet. It features additional vocals by Dwele and was co-produced by Kanye West and S1. [5] [92] The official remix, featuring Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz, was premiered on August 20, 2010 on Hot 97 by DJ Kay Slay. [93] The single spent eight weeks and peaked at number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. [94] The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance, presented at the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011. [95]

On September 12, West performed the second single "Runaway" at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. [96] Three weeks later on October 2, West performed the song on Saturday Night Live , along with "Power". "Runaway" was officially released to the iTunes Store on October 4, 2010. [65] [97] It spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 12 on the chart. [94] Rolling Stone named it the best single of 2010 in its year-end list. [98] A 35-minute short film of the same name, directed by West and containing the song's official music video, was released on October 23, 2010. [99] Filmed in Prague over a period of four days during Summer 2010, [100] the film stars West and model Selita Ebanks and features the script written by Hype Williams with the story written by West. [101] West described the video as an "overall representation of what [he dreams]" and a parallel to his music career. [100] [102] At one of his screenings in Paris, the film seemed to represent a lot emotionally for him as he broke down in tears. Later after another screening, West states that his music and "art" and how it affects people is the reasoning behind his continuance of music creation. [103]

The third single "Monster" was sent out to radio on September 21, [104] and it was released to the iTunes Store on October 23, 2010. [105] The song was originally released on August 27, 2010 as part of West's music program G.O.O.D. Friday. [106] It spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 18 on the chart. [94] Rolling Stone ranked it number 10 on its list of the Best Singles of 2010. [98] The song was performed at Jay-Z's and Eminem's The Home & Home Tour on September 14, 2010, along with Nicki Minaj. [107]

In October, West announced "All of the Lights" as the fourth official single. [108] Prior to its release as a single, it had debuted at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon the album's release, [109] and the track "Dark Fantasy" entered the chart at number 60 the same week. [110] The single was released on January 18, 2011, in the US and on February 21, 2011, in the UK. [111] [112] It reached number 18 and spent eight weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. [113] By December 2011, it had sold over 1,561,000 digital units in the US. [114] "All of the Lights" also charted well worldwide, [115] including number eight in Brazil, [116] number 15 in the United Kingdom, [117] number 13 in Ireland, [118] number 14 in Scotland, [119] and number 22 in South Korea. [120] It was certified Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association, for shipments of 70,000 copies in Australia, [121] Gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, for shipments of 7,500 in New Zealand, [122] and Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of one million in the US. [123]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic? 8.8/10 [124]
Metacritic 94/100 [125]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [30]
Entertainment Weekly A [31]
The Guardian Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [126]
The Independent Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [127]
MSN Music (Expert Witness)A [35]
NME 9/10 [37]
Pitchfork 10/10 [32]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [128]
Spin 9/10 [43]
USA Today Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [129]

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was met with widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 94, based on 45 reviews. [125]

In a rave review of the album, Andy Gill of The Independent hailed it as "one of pop's gaudiest, most grandiose efforts of recent years, a no-holds-barred musical extravaganza in which any notion of good taste is abandoned at the door". [127] Ann Powers, writing for the Los Angeles Times , found the music "Picasso-like, fulfilling the Cubist mandate of rearranging form, texture, color and space to suggest new ways of viewing things". [40] It was also called West's most lavish record in a review by Time magazine's David Browne, who said it proved again that few other artists shared his ability to adeptly combine diverse elements. [130] Dan Vidal of URB highlighted the rapper's ability to bring the best out of his collaborators, finding it comparable to the work of Miles Davis. [131] In Rolling Stone , Rob Sheffield called the album West's best and most wildly inspired record to date, claiming that no other artist was recording music as dark or uncanny, [128] while Sputnikmusic critic Channing Freeman regarded it as "the first album in which he's truly lived up to his potential in every way – as a rapper, as a lyricist, as a songwriter". [132] The Village Voice 's Sean Fennessey found it overwhelming and skillfully produced because of how each song transitions over "like some long night out into the hazy morning after". [33]

In a less enthusiastic review for The Guardian , Kitty Empire was critical of how West's lyrics regarded "women as ruthless money-grabbers", on an otherwise "herculean" and "flawed near-masterpiece". [126] AllMusic's Andy Kellman found his rapping inconsistent on what was nonetheless "a deeply fascinating accomplishment" in West's catalogue: "As fatiguing as it is invigorating, as cold-blooded as it is heart-rending, as haphazardly splattered as it is meticulously sculpted, [the album] is an extraordinarily complex 70-minute set of songs ... As the ego and ambition swells, so does the appeal, the repulsiveness, and – most importantly – the ingenuity". [30]

Accolades

Review aggregate site Metacritic called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy "the runaway consensus pick of music critics for the best album of 2010". Metacritic logo.svg
Review aggregate site Metacritic called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy "the runaway consensus pick of music critics for the best album of 2010".

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy appeared on numerous year-end top albums lists. [134] Many critics named it the best album of 2010, [134] including Billboard , [135] Time, [136] Slant Magazine, [137] Pitchfork, [138] Rolling Stone, [139] and Spin . [140] My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was voted best album in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 2010, [141] winning by the largest margin in the poll's history. [142] The singles "Power", "Runaway", and "Monster" were voted in the top-10 of the Pazz & Jop's singles list. [142] Metacritic, which collates reviews of music albums, named it the best-reviewed album of 2010. [133]

According to Acclaimed Music, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the 62nd most critically acclaimed album in history, [143] the second-highest ranking for any hip hop album. [144] In 2012, Complex included it in their list of "25 Rap Albums From the Past Decade That Deserve Classic Status". [145] In October 2013, Complex named it the best hip hop album of the last five years. [146] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [147] In August 2014, the song "Runaway" (featuring Pusha T) was ranked in the third position in Pitchfork 's list of the 200 "best tracks" released since 2010. [148] During the same week, the publication named it the best album of the 2010s decade – between 2010 and 2014 – commenting, "West broke the ground upon which the new decade's most brilliant architects built their masterworks; Bon Iver , Take Care , Channel Orange , and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City don't exist without the blueprint of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The list ends here because it's where the decade truly begins." [149]

PublicationCountryAccoladeYearRankReference
Billboard United StatesThe 20 Best Albums of the 2010s (So Far)20151 [150]
BPM The 130 Best Albums of the Last Five Years20131 [151]
Complex The 100 Best Albums of the Complex Decade (2002–2012)20127 [152]
Entertainment Weekly The Greatest Albums of all Time20168 [153]
GQ The 21 Albums from the 21st Century Every Man Should Hear20141 [154]
Odyssey The 30 Best Albums of the Decade (So Far)20161 [155]
Pitchfork The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010–2014)20141 [156]
Rolling Stone The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time2012353 [157]
Spin The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985–2014)20158 [158]
Vibe The Greatest 50 Albums Since '9320136 [159]
Clash United KingdomThe Top 100 Albums of Clash's Lifetime (2004–2014)20151 [160]
NME The 25 Best Albums of the Decade (So Far)20142 [161]
The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time201321 [162]
The Quietus The Top 100 Albums of the Quietus' Existence (2008–2018)201812 [163]

Grammy Awards

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, presented at the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012. [164] The song "All of the Lights" was nominated for Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, winning in the latter two categories. [164] However, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was not nominated for Album of the Year, which was viewed as a "snub" by several outlets, along with the rejection of Watch the Throne , West's collaborative album with Jay-Z, for that category. [165] [166] [167] [168] In an article for Time , music journalist Touré elaborated on the album's acclaim, called West's nominations in minor categories "booby prizes", and stated, "MBDTF is by far the best reviewed album in many years: the critical community flipped out over it like nothing since Radiohead’s zenith. And it sold well, over 1.2 million so far. So what happened? How is it Grammy overlooked Kanye's magnum opus and gave noms to four sonic widgets and Adele's 21 ?" [169] He explored possible reasons for The Recording Academy to snub him, including split votes between My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne, concerns over West's past controversies, and more commercially appealing nominees, but ultimately stated:

What I think may be going on is a lack of respect for hip hop and its complexity from people who care about music but don't know much about hip hop ... Predictably, Grammy tends toward pop-friendly hip hop that's easily understood by those who don't understand hip hop. Pop in this regard is not meant as an insult, it's merely music palatable to non-aficionados of the genre ... But now that he's released his most mature work, [West is] being ignored. [169]

In the Los Angeles Times , music journalist Randall Roberts was critical of the nominations for the 54th Grammy Awards, particularly for the Album of the Year category, noting the exclusion of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, "the most critically acclaimed album of the year, a career-defining record", as a snub in favor of nominating less substantial albums. [170] West, who was vocal in his displeasure with past award snubs, [167] responded onstage during a concert on the Watch the Throne Tour, saying "That's my fault for dropping Watch the Throne and Dark Fantasy the same year. I should've just spaced it out, just a little bit more." [168]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Dark Fantasy"
4:40
2."Gorgeous" (featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon)
  • West
  • No I.D.
  • M. Dean
5:57
3."Power"
4:52
4."All of the Lights (Interlude)"
  • West
  • M. Dean
1:02
5."All of the Lights"
  • West
  • Bhasker
  • Jones
  • Trotter
  • Ferguson
  • West
  • Bhasker [a]
4:59
6."Monster" (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver)
6:18
7."So Appalled" (featuring Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi the Prynce and RZA)
  • West
  • No I.D.
  • M. Dean [a]
6:38
8."Devil in a New Dress" (featuring Rick Ross)
5:52
9."Runaway" (featuring Pusha T)
9:08
10."Hell of a Life"
5:27
11."Blame Game" (featuring John Legend)
7:49
12."Lost in the World" (featuring Bon Iver)
  • West
  • Bhasker [a]
4:16
13."Who Will Survive in America"
  • West
  • Bhasker
  • Scott-Heron
  • West
  • Bhasker [a]
1:38
Total length:1:08:36

Track notes

Sample credits

Personnel

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.

Charts

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA) [200] Platinum70,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark) [201] Gold15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [202] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [203] 2× Platinum2,000,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also

Related Research Articles

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The College Dropout is the debut studio album by American rapper and producer Kanye West. It was released on February 10, 2004, by Def Jam Recordings and Roc-A-Fella Records.

Kanye West albums discography albums discography

American rapper and record producer Kanye West has released eight studio albums, two collaborative studio albums, two live albums, three video albums and four mixtapes. West has sold 21 million albums and 100 million digital downloads worldwide. Seven of his studio albums have been certified at least platinum in the United States, and his output has been generally met with consistent commercial and critical popularity.

"Lost in the World" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song features vocals by Justin Vernon of indie folk band Bon Iver, as well as sampling his 2009 song "Woods". It also contains portions of "Soul Makossa" written by Manu Dibango, and samples of "Comment No. 1", performed by Gil Scott-Heron. It was produced by West and Jeff Bhasker, who wrote the track with Vernon and Malik Jones. "Lost in the World" was initially leaked on September 29, 2010 and was 6 minutes and 4 seconds long. The version on the album was split up into two parts, with the outro becoming a new track entitled "Who Will Survive in America".

<i>808s & Heartbreak</i> 2008 studio album by Kanye West

808s & Heartbreak is the fourth studio album by American hip hop producer and vocalist Kanye West. It was released on November 24, 2008, by Roc-A-Fella Records. West recorded the album during September and October 2008 at Glenwood Studios in Burbank, California and Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the help of producers No I.D., Jeff Bhasker and others. The album features guest appearances from Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy, Mr Hudson, and Lil Wayne.

"Blame Game" is a song by American hip-hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song features recording artist John Legend and was produced by West, Justin Franks, and Mike Dean. The song features a hip hop skit provided by comedian Chris Rock. It contains a sample of "Avril 14th" by Aphex Twin. Lyrically, the song contains West's thoughts on past break-ups and explores themes of unrequited love, heartbreak, and spousal abuse. Midway through the song, Rock delivers an extended monologue as the new boyfriend of West's past lover.

Devil in a New Dress

"Devil in a New Dress" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). Originally released through West's GOOD Friday initiative, a weekly free music giveaway started by the rapper to promote My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It later appeared on the album with an added guitar solo by producer Mike Dean and an additional guest verse featuring rapper Rick Ross. "Devil in a New Dress" was produced by Bink!. It was the only song in the album not to be produced by West. The song samples Smokey Robinson's slow jam recording "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", and is themed lyrically to lust and heartache. Both the topics of love and religion serve as the main inspiration to the song.

Runaway (Kanye West song) song by Kanye West

"Runaway" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West, released as the second single from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). It features Pusha T, who is signed to West's label GOOD Music. The production was handled by West, alongside co-producers Emile, Jeff Bhasker, and Mike Dean. The composition features repetitive piano riffs, intricate samples and a production style with several similarities to West's album 808s & Heartbreak (2008). Described as a deeply personal song in nature, it expresses West's thoughts on his failed relationships, and his acceptance of the media's perception of him. Lyrically the song explores criticism aimed at West in the past and serves as a "toast to the douchebags."

Monster (Kanye West song) song by Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Bon Iver

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Runaway is a 2010 American musical short film directed by Kanye West.

So Appalled

"So Appalled" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song was produced by West, along with No I.D. and Mike Dean, and features verses by Jay-Z, Cyhi the Prynce, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz, and RZA respectively, who all receive writing credits. Lyrically, the song explores topics such as the troubles produced from being famous, social concerns and features numerous pop culture references.

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Watch the Throne is a collaborative studio album by American rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, released on August 8, 2011 by Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, and Def Jam Recordings. Before the album, Jay-Z and Kanye had collaborated on various singles, and with the latter as a producer on the former's work. They originally sought out to record a five-song EP together, but the project eventually evolved into a full-length album. The project features guest appearances from Frank Ocean, The-Dream, Beyoncé and Mr. Hudson, as well as posthumous vocals by Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield. It also features vocal contributions from Kid Cudi, Seal, Justin Vernon, Elly Jackson, Connie Mitchell, Charlie Wilson and Pete Rock, among others.

"All of the Lights" is a song by American rapper Kanye West, as the fourth single from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). It was produced by West and features additional vocals from several other recording artists, including John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, Drake, and Rihanna; the last is the only credited feature on the single.

"Dark Fantasy" is a song by American hip hop recording artist and producer Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song serves as the opening track of the album, and was written by West, Ernest Wilson, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean and Robert Diggs. It features an opening narrative delivered by rapper Nicki Minaj, and singers Teyana Taylor and Justin Vernon contribute to the song's hook and provide background vocals. The track heavily samples "In High Places" by Mike Oldfield. The song introduces several of the themes presented on the album and features numerous pop culture references, a gospel-inspired production style, and piano-driven composition. The song received acclaim from music critics, who praised the song as a strong opener to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, complimenting West's vocal delivery and the song's production.

"Gorgeous" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The track features a hook provided by Kid Cudi, a recording artist formerly signed to West's label GOOD Music, and a rap verse provided by the Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon. The song was written by West, Cudi, Raekwon, No I.D., Mike Dean and Rhymefest, and was produced by West, No I.D. and Dean. It contains elements of The Turtles's cover version of the song "You Showed Me". "Gorgeous" received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who generally praised the intricacy of the production, the quality of the guest features and the rock music inspired aesthetic of the song. Several critics cited West's verses as a highlight of the track, complimenting his lyricism and delivery.

Andrew Dawson is an American music producer, engineer, mixer and songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. Dawson is a three-time Grammy award winner and six-time Grammy nominee, having won for his work as engineer and mixer on Kanye West's Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) - each winning the Best Rap Album category. Dawson is also credited with additional production on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Although Dawson made his initial breakthrough with hip hop artists including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Common, Tyler The Creator, and P.O.S, Dawson has also moved on to produce and work on records for pop, indie and rock bands including fun., The Rolling Stones, Pet Shop Boys, Sleigh Bells, Baskery and Night Terrors of 1927.

"Hell of a Life" is a song by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song was produced by West, Mike Caren, Ernest Wilson and Mike Dean. The song features a number of samples and contains backing vocals by Teyana Taylor, signed to West's G.O.O.D. Music label. The song features a production style with influence from rock and heavy metal music, and is notably bombastic and aggressive in nature. The song expresses a narrative about West marrying a pornographic film actress and the traumatic events that follow. It employs highly sexual, nightmarish imagery, and was inspired by West's relationship with model Amber Rose among other real-life events.

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