808s & Heartbreak

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak
Critic Score
Based on 31 reviews
2008 Ratings: #194 / 779
Year End Rank: #34
User Score
2008 Ratings: #41
Liked by 244 people
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Entertainment Weekly

The Chicago rapper hangs a dramatic left on 808s & Heartbreak, an album whose frosty, minimal sound backs lyrics of surprisingly raw emotion.


808s & Heartbreak may initially seem uncharacteristic, but without the limitations of genre, West is fully embracing the grand, theatric backdrops that he’s always loved.

Beats Per Minute
The lack of vocal hooks makes it hard to view his foray into singing as a pop move, and the lack of overt bangers will probably alienate some hip-hop purists. But the album is brilliant on its own terms, perfectly imperfect and believably scattered.

808s sounds nothing like West’s three previous LPs. It’s minimal and percussive in places, a sharp contrast to West’s previous signature sound—a giddy, maxed-out bounce. This new record may be closer to R&B than it is to rap.


For the most part 808s & Heartbreak showcases the awkward dichotomy of emotion and mechanised sterility lurking gift-wrapped under a deceptively polished sheen.

No Ripcord

Unsurprisingly Heartbreak is a grower. At first it does sound minimalist and sparse but the album is layered with delicacy and marked with a maturity.

Consequence of Sound

808s has more than its share of awkward moments – both musically and lyrically – but the great artists are the ones who are not afraid of taking chances, and Kanye West is the greatest artist today’s pop scene has.

Few artists can stray so far from home and succeed. This is even more impressive when his art project was made using the musical equivalent of paint-by-numbers known as auto-tune.
NOW Magazine

The disc has few radio-friendly singles, and much of it is undeniably weird. Many will hate it, but those willing to give it a chance will be impressed by the naked humanity West reveals.


Change is good, and while first impressions of “808’s & Heartbreak” were not that positive, the album is unquestionably a grower to the point that you’ll fall in love with it and won’t ever be able to put it down.

The album is much larger and brasher than it would first appear-- the closer it hews to a mix of sad-sack indie pop and elegant, monied Patrick Bateman commercial 80s sounds, the better it works.
A.V. Club
West creates and sustains a delicate, tricky mood—a fuzzy early-morning miasma of self-doubt, regret, and longing for people and places past. Sonically, the aptly titled disc splits the difference between the Auto-Tune R&B; of T-Pain and the glacial electronic atmospherics of '80s new wave at its loneliest.
The resounding verdict is that it’s a surprising, but bold and brave progression from last year’s confused ‘Graduation’. As for the lack of raps, in truth, the less we have to put up with all that small-man prep-school-canteen bragging, the better.
Rolling Stone

Many of his best songs have focused on his ambivalence about materialism, but on 808s & Heartbreak, the theme has hardened into schtick.

The Skinny

Kanye West's fourth album is a radical stylistic departure from everything he's done before, but the one thing he has retained from his previous life is his infuriating inconsistency.

Coke Machine Glow
As a hip-hop icon coming at pop from a different avenue, Kanye’s all-out attempt bypasses the historical evolution and thus runs into deficiency. “Runs” is too active a verb, though. Heartbreak is musical stasis. It’s atrophy. These simple melodies are begotten to barely dynamic production and vocals on life support that cannot nurture them physically or emotionally.
For anyone sifting through a broken relationship and self-letdown, this could all be therapeutic. Otherwise, no matter its commendable fearlessness, the album is a listless, bleary trudge along West's permafrost.
Slant Magazine

808s, despite its myriad flaws, is both a reflection of the hard times West has suffered through and a testament to his artistic fortitude.


"when u get sad and redefine modern pop music"


"Sometimes I feel like I can't go on like this forever. Days pass and nothing happens, and I feel so alone. In my heart, I seem to be waiting for something."

808s, one of Kanye's finest achievements, fascinates me. It fascinates me, amazes me beyond belief how artists, pushed to or far beyond their breaking point, can turn a moment of pure anguish, despair and unbearable pain into something beautiful to share with the world. A masterpiece that may touch the hearts of millions and ... read more


This record will be looked at 10 years from now as one of the most influential records in the game




I like this more than his previous three albums . It was refreshing to me .


I didn’t know what to expect from this album as I had never listened to the whole thing through before today. As I was trying to decide what to say to describe this album I read one of my good friends review on this album and he said you either love it or you hate it. I love this album. This album caught me by surprise with its enticing beats and its great writing. As the first album released after his mother Donda’s death, he puts his soul and all of his emotions into this album. ... read more

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