“We blasted out the music, and immediately I just started having all kinds of ideas about mythological creatures and volcanic landscapes. Parts and pieces from Macbeth. Parts and pieces from some sort of political, social, sci-fi landscape.” – George Condo, artist and creator of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s artwork
Following the aftermath of the VMA incident and overwhelming negative media response, Kanye disappeared. On a self imposed exile to Hawaii, he rested and slowly began his plans of ascension. Recruiting the likes of Wu Tang’s RZA, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Lil Wayne, Madlib, Elton John, and many other significant artists, one by one they flocked to the islands as Kanye assembled a production team of near-mythic reputation.
Wake. Eat breakfast. Talk about yesterday. Talk about tomorrow. Talk about now. Go play basketball. Lift weights. Run on the treadmill. Back to the hotel or houses. Shower. Go to the studio. Eat. Back in the studio. Pass out. Wake. Repeat.
This was the team’s schedule during the entire course of production. With sound engineers behind the scenes 24 hours a day, Kanye worked indefinitely on the project, often running on very little sleep. Signs such as “No Tweeting”, “No Blogging”, “Total Focus On This Project”, and “Just Shut The Fuck Up Sometimes” plastered the walls of the multiple studios. This was no ordinary album. Artists such as Pusha T, Charlie Wilson, and RZA were not only impressed by Kanye’s ability to weave an album together, but also his work ethic. Frequently sleeping in the studio, Kanye ran on efficiency and lost no time while preparing for the album. Enamored by his determination and focus, many artists that were only supposed to be there for a few days ended up staying for weeks. Publicity hype was in full swing when Kanye created GOOD Fridays, a free music giveaway that contained discarded songs from the album, remixes, and promotional singles leading up to the album release. On November 22nd, 2010, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was released to rave reviews and positive public reactions.
As if out of a Greek myth, Kanye had risen out of the ashes of the past with his plumage flourishing more vibrantly than it had ever been before. Dark Fantasy begins with a twisted version of Roald Dahl’s take on Cinderella where Nicki Minaj immediately places the listener into the eyes of Kanye, revealing the horrors of fame and success.
I fantasized ’bout this back in Chicago
Mercy, mercy me, that Mercialago
This is the track where Kanye’s fantasies of owning expensive cars and becoming wealthy turns into reality. However, behind this success, Kanye is riddled with insecurities and depression which in turned fueled his mania and outbursts. Turning to alcohol, he questions
But what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?
This immediately leads into the braggadocious tracks, Gorgeous and POWER. Here, Kanye is at his peak. Mentally and metaphorically. Kanye started off selling CDs out of a backpack, but somehow ended up with four wildly, successful albums. How would one not become egotistical?
But this pimp is at the top of Mount Olympus
Ready for the world’s games, this is my Olympics
Gorgeous is the more political of the two, citing issues such as racial inequality and racism. Kanye proclaims that his struggle is even more spectacular because he has achieved this level of success as a black man. POWER is Kanye’s “Fuck you. Look at me!” track.
Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music
He’s aware that he is egotistical and uses this track to say that it’s justified. He lashes out against critics and haters. Despite being weighed down by responsibilities and expectations, his childlike creativity and innovation lead him to his greatness. However, this greatness ends by the end of the song with Kanye referring to drunk driving and having a “beautiful death”.
All Of The Lights is the rising tension of the album and is the first, full metaphorical example of how fame had hurt him. Under the guise of a strange, fictional love song, Kanye touches upon subjects such as the shattering of domestic life, divorce, abuse, incarceration, and loss of loved ones due to instability. He wants us to “turn on all the lights” in order to see the madness behind the beauty.
Cop lights, flash lights, spotlights
Strobe lights, street lights
Fast life, drug life, thug life
Rock life, every night (All of the lights)
Monster is what you see when you turn on the lights. The song is brash, offensive, misogynistic, extremely braggadocious, and lacks the introspection that we saw in POWER. This is Kanye’s drunken, angry mess and he doesn’t give a fuck who sees it.
I’m living in the future so the present is my past
My presence is a present, kiss my ass
The only bit of introspection comes at the end as Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) sings “I’ll let God decide / And I wouldn’t last these shows / So I am headed home.”
So Appalled is somewhat Kanye’s or the public’s reaction to the monster and everything that had happened. But like Swizz Beatz says
It’s like that sometimes, man, ridiculous
Life can be sometimes ridiculous
People are going to be appalled by this lifestyle, but it’s what rappers have to do to stay relevant. The rest of the verses on this song is, once again, braggadocious but it’s different this time. It’s not bragging for the sake of bragging, it is no longer “LOOK AT ME”. It is “Please… look at me.” Coupled with a quieter beat, the arrogant lyrics don’t scream out awesomeness like it does in POWER or wildness like Monster, but rather a subdued acceptance of the lifestyle.