(c)rappers. Music was better when Freddie Mercury was hitting notes. Not when Kanye sounded like a robot. Talentless hack if you ask me.
kanye is poopy and crazy amiright fellas
nooo kanye dont become pinnochio then i cant boop your snoot 🥺🌸
what this project is:
all it took was phil collins' famed drum machine, 3 weeks, a much neglected vocal effect that was supposedly set out to ruin music like synthesizers in the seventies, and hip-hop's new lord and savior, albeit in a somber mood resulting from the end of his engagement and his beloved mother's unfortunate demise.
the ambition wasn't exactly present here. late registration brought in some extra spice to west's sample chops courtesy of jon brion and orchestral compositions were snugly fit into west's existing aesthetic of lighthearted rap that appealed to the everyday man.
west was changing hip-hop step by step; he was considered the coolest man on earth and at his emotional prime during the rollout of graduation, which is by far not his best album, but the most well regarded by mainstream standards.
but it all came crashing down, when the "only one who perpetually stood by him" suddenly faded away. he blamed himself for his mother's death, and then begun the then thirty-one-year-old west's foray into fantasy, while also running away from the fantasy land of graduation
eight-oh-eights and heartbreak is a rare abomination in west's discography: its sound may not be universally appealing, but its real strength lies in how unintentionally innovative it was. how does the newly coronated hip-hop maestro abandon everything that made him who he was, leaving a sparse amount of samples as to the usual ton or so?
the roland tr-eight-oh-eight rhythm composer, commonly known as simply, an 808, is a drum machine manufactured by the roland corporation between nineteen-eighty and nineteen-eighty-three.
despite a few early adopters, the drum never really took on and was discontinued shortly. kanye, unlike popularly believed in hip-hop circles, was not the only one to make proper use of this humble and dated instrument, the list is endless.
there are countless names in hip-hop itself, if not music in general, that use the 808 as a mainstay, but not quite as kanye did. kanye's effort on eight oh eights undercuts most of his work, my beautiful dark twisted fantasy had tracks that almost challenged the pyramids of egypt in terms of meticulous hip-hop composition.
but just like its second-tier successor, yeezus of two thousand thirteen, eight oh eights did even more for music, albeit ages before anyone thought of this array of implementations. eight oh eights is kanye's most aesthetically pleasing album to date, which i'll get to.
look at the album cover, the palette color tones are absolutely gorgeous, with a deflated balloon in the center of it, symbolizing exactly what was going through the man's head at this album's release. eight oh eights is sparse, minimalist, frosty, and repetitive.
on paper, eight oh eights doesn't seem set for mainstream success, but the reception to its singles was miraculously good given the risk taken. abandoning your all-frills, synth-based pop-rap sound for electropop powered by the semi-hideous autotune tool.
but not all of the reception was positive: people mocked west's ability to sing and his reliance on autotune. orthodox hip-hop enjoyers were even less enthused than with graduation, a pop album was too soft to even grace their ears. while west was mocked and ridiculed, it was the generation that grew up on this album that really saw its magic pan out
within a few years, west's risks had paid off, what he lost in respect then would soon make him even more of a legend in the sphere of hip-hop. eight oh eights is far from a perfect album, but its influence stretches farther than you'd imagine.
one could even say whole genres wouldn't come into being prior to this. many hip-hop artists owe their whole careers to this album, in fact it's likely they'd never see the light of day if west had never taken the singular risk to release a rough draft of an album. it was no mess, it was a piece of work that would bend mainstream music for a long time to come.
you may also argue that eight oh eights was succeeded by even better music, and that's completely alright. what it set into motion is what I find beautiful. however, as a standalone piece of music notwithstanding to the decade and a half since it came out or its musical flaws, i have finally grown into enjoying eight oh eights for what it is.
the album itself:
eight oh eights has its clear flaws, so how about I start off from them. there are many clear-cut concepts on here, one being the autotune gradually fading down the record, and another being how the album is clearly woven around minimalism, no portion is overproduced with the exception of maybe robocop.
only a certain amount of elements you'd find in music are present here: the eight oh eight drum, kanye's vocals, drenched in autotune, never once breaking into his run of the mill laidback rap flow, and instead, pushing autotune to its limits with his powerful voice that lacks proper tune but exhibits clear cut ambition.
subtle choir melodies echo hauntingly down the board of eight oh eights. they are a mix of both electronically generated and outright raw choirs. string sections echo out kanye's compositions, prepared in the assistance of frequent collaborators mister hudson and jeff bhasker. plain pat and no i.d. also appear on junctures, but kanye headlines most of the production on here.
but the beauty here isn't the production, but it also is. eight oh eights manages to create an odd bubble of music that's enticing and experimental yet listenable irrespective of whose ears. it is in its essence, a pop record, but it seemingly lacks the energy and fun of usual pop music. synthpop and electro-pop were the goals here, with it occasionally leaning hip-hop
if you've never heard this album, be prepared to not be amazed on first listen, but fall in love with its minimalist sparse sounds over time. frequently mentioned as one of the most influential albums of all time for a reason, the list is absolutely un-ending. and while it may not be impressive for the modern landscape of music, at its prime, eight oh eights was an experimental opus.
it almost jeopardized a lot of his fame, but it also found him new fans. a clean, curse-free record to go on the radios, and while it's near robotic tonality might put the soccer moms who turned up the radio in two thousand eight off, their kids probably ended up soundcloud rappers by capitalizing on kanye's influence.
how about lyrically? eight oh eights is definitely one of his most personal and humble projects ever, and to quote himself on the album's magnum opus, which is, true to the minimalist tone, a whole freestyle from Singapore assisted by a simple set of keys and strings. keys aren't dominant here, but they can be absolutely vital to this album's highlights.
look at amazing, the instrumental is a work of modern art. it may sound like nothing to a lot of modern listeners, but I couldn't imagine listening to this in two thousand eight.
but, eight oh eights weakest suite is surprisingly not its vocals, it's the same lyrics that portray kanye's mental health. see, the pop songwriting can get old, repetitive and some of the lyrics are outright misogynist, corny and pointless. given its sonic innovation and effortless enjoyability this should be easy to ignore, and that isn't hard to deny.
even the album's uglier and less favorable tracks can be traced with birthing whole careers. it's likely we'd never get young thug's jeffery without see you in my nightmares, despite how odd the track can be.
kanye feels detached but also attached to the modern world, expressing his grief through the wires, but not the wire that he rapped two thousand three's chaka khan flipping through the wire on. it's the dawn of technology, and kanye embraces it with two open hands just like the four that giorgio moroder did with the synthesizer.
the 808s on this project are stereotypically good for a reason, and the drums might as well be what makes this album its own. the drum patterns can be insanely catchy, or complex in their own right. the drums achieve most prominence on love lockdown, which is a turn-up banger amidst heartbreak songs, and it works.
bad news is another tribal-tinged banger that still fits in well, robocop and see you in my nightmares have their banter work fruitfully amidst emotionally sullen masterpieces like street lights and coldest winter.
coldest winter may be about the dark night he heard the news about his mother, depressed and broken, but it is quite uplifting. instead of making me ponder upon loss, it makes me look more into cherishing the ones we have today.
but once again, after all its sonic innovation and barrier-breaking sound choices, eight oh eights' highlight, is a fucking freestyle performed in singapore and slightly remastered for the sole purpose of being listenable.
on pinnochio story, kanye is at his most vulnerable. step aside, runaway, also, never see me again wasn't official, so pinnochio story is the peak of his vulnerability. there's none of the braggadocious ego you'd see associated with his name today, instead all you really find his raw emotional plight.
losing a parent can be heartbreaking, but in kanye's case, the only woman who truly cared for him and he adored back was his mother. and blaming yourself for your mother's death could only be worse.
the screams and cheers, the silly jokes being cracked in the crowd all only go to show, that this man, is alone in a world full of supporters. in a room full of people who supposedly love him, but they only love the musician, not the man. he knows no one would put up with him like his mother, and this has been worked into fruit over the past couple of years.
people watch what he says, but they never listen. they do not give him the freedom of opinion, even for the many times he was wrong, no one respects what he says. and on pinnochio story, the then relatively unproblematic kanye shrieks and riffs about his plight and not wanting to be a persona on tv, but no one listens, because of course, most people think rich people could never have depressive thoughts and manic episodes of their own.
and i've seen people who've literally told me "why would a billionaire be depressed", like dude, it's no joke, they say money can't buy happiness for a reason.
and that's the beauty of pinnochio story. of course, its lyrical highs aren't matched all across the board of the record, but it's hard to throw shade on an album that ends on such a high note. eight oh eights ends better than any kanye album to date, maybe with the exception of kids see ghosts, which is a similar account of troubled mental health.
"Do you really have the stamina?
For everybody that sees you that say: "where's my camera?"
For everybody that sees you to say: "sign an autograph"
For everybody that sees you cryin' that say you oughta laugh
You oughta laugh
I just wanna be a real boy
Pinocchio's story goes
I just wanna be a real boy
Pinocchio's story goes
And there is no Gepetto to guide me
No one right beside me
The only one was behind me
I can't find her no more, I can't call her no more
The only one that comes out on the tour and stays
Back when I was livin' at home and this was all a big dream
And the fame will be get got
And the day I moved to L.A., maybe that was all my fault
All my fault to be a real boy, chasin' the American dream
Chasin' everything we seen up on the TV screen"
the heartbreak is very much present, if not expressed good enough. but of course, eight oh eights and heartbreaks was definitive for its time, so irrespective of your perception of it musically, it probably inspired a song you listened to as of late. the latest example being the live rendition of a brockhampton leak, performed at the chapel, namely "Texas Watchin Me"
kevin abstract emulates this kanye era quite well in his verse.
he goes: "I'm just a man"
like everything on here, that line's powerful in it's minimalism and with the context given on the rest of the verse and album, it showcases an array of problems a "modern-day rockstar" can face, including a dissatisfaction with fame and the very "flashing lights" kanye once enjoyed on graduation but despises on eight oh eights.
They asked for what they wanted, but they got it in abundance. And they want to "run away" from what they have become today. They want to be real people. Not puppets on strings. A linear trajectory upwards that starts off promising but leaves you floating in space.
now to relieve your mood look at these