That article (great read by the way) reminds me of this blog post. And if any album this year has been on the receiving end of the sort of hero-posturing critical acclaim that Nosnitsky writes of here, it's Channel ORANGE.
Yeah, no doubt that some people genuinely adore everything on that album. But for me, it misses as much as it hits and I would like to hear a more focused and concise record from Ocean. I hope his career doesn't, as that person says, plateau in pursuit of more of the same.
Yea, well we obviously don't see eye-to-eye on that either. And I don't think there's any way that he's plateauing this early anyways. He killed it on "Nostalgia" and he did a great job on "Channel Orange." The writer wanted to make a grand prediction and she did. Complete misstep on "Pyramids." Yes, the subject's been done, but the way it was framed and produced was what made it great.
Yeah, I like "Pyramids" a lot. But I think her point was the same as the one made in that pitchfork article, or at least a very similar one: that calling something a classic after a week and tossing a 9.5 on an album that. quite frankly, is very far from perfect, is a damaging practice. It's easy to see how an artist's growth could get stunted in pursuit of what they have been told is masterful.
ChaseTx is right that the first two Kanye albums were more influential, but it seems to me that general consensus places MBDTF as the better album. And if critical acclaim and fan-approval place an album as better than the classics that came before it, then I'm pretty sure that album becomes a classic by default.
I'm no so sure it is a consensus though. It might be the consensus on this site, but we're definitely not representative of his fanbase. I can't be sure because I haven't really been active on hiphop forums for a while or really talking to people about it, but I have a feeling a that people who only or mostly listen to hip hop might go for one of the first two.
I can't claim to be tapped into the overall hip hop community at all, but I think that it was the critical consensus and I believe that, in the wider musical community, that is the consensus as well. You could also argue that the latter point is the album's strongest claim to classic status: I've said before that MBDTF is a hip hop album that appeals to people who have never particularly loved hip hop. The way that appreciation for that album has been able to cross genre lines is pretty impressive, and even without big hits or a game changing impact on rap music, that's still notable.
You could also argue that the other albums would have the same appeal if they were released now. They were all very well reviewed, and they were all very accessible. In fact, I'd say MBDTF is the least accessibility because it's a lot darker than the others.Plus Kanye presents himself as less a common person than a celebrity on that album, making him a bit less relatable.
Having said that, MBDTF is sort of in tune with the dark, electronic thing that's been prevalent in pop music for the last few years, so that does add to its mainstream appeal. And as for his celebrity persona, that's very much part of the product now. It's possible that larger-than-life Kanye is just more interesting to the general public than big-headed everyman Kanye.
I don't think I follow the line of reasoning in your first sentence. Sure, they were successful and highly acclaimed (both score mid-to-high 80s on Metacritic), but they didn't receive the almost across-the-board perfect score/album of the year title reception that MBDTF got, and I personally have always thought that was because 1) the latter plays as a more cohesive whole, largely thanks to its darker themes and Kanye's self-introspection and that 2) the latter is more accessible to a broad range of genres because it is more grounded in pop music and rock n roll than any of its predecessors. I get what you're saying with the relatability issue, but for me at least (and I feel as if I'm a fairly good barometer, since I had only ever dabbled in hip hop before that album came out), there's no question that MBDTF is his most immediate, accessible, and fully-formed work to date.
think about this all the time. it's why I really don't like scores on reviews.
I loathe scoring albums, half because I feel like I never quite agree with my ratings a few months down the road, but also because I feel like people often base how they are supposed to feel about an album off of how other people have rated it. Maybe that's the role of the music critic these days, I'm not really sure, but I really don't see much significance in a score beyond purely personal impact.
I don't know a lot of the details on how MBDTF was reviewed on release, as I wasn't paying too much attention at the time. But you have to figure that some of that is momentum built up from the previous releases. Sites and magazines that wouldn't cover him before came to terms with the artist Kanye is and gave him favorable reviews. Publications that previously may have just written him off as a gimmick saw that his music had lasting power and legitimate artistry. I feel like some of the misgivings they might have had about him before had been assuaged, permitting them to go into their reviews less cautiously, without fear of being seen as scoring it higher than it warranted. Does that make sense?
For a couple years in high school, I started listening to nothing but hip-hop, and College Dropout was definitely one of the albums that made me a huge fan of the genre. It's odd to think whether MBDTF would have the same effect on me, because it just didn't have as much appeal to me at 24 as CD had at 17. It's got a few great tracks, then it's got some mediocre ones. I think CD had the right mix of pop appeal, solid songwriting, and variety to fit my tastes. And it has staying power.
Ahhh, I see what you mean now. I suppose that could be the case, but I prefer to think that the critics just saw a stronger start-to-finish record in MBDTF. In the Slant Magazine review for The College Dropout (which they gave 3.5 stars), the writer kicked off the review by saying, "Like every hip-hop album (even the great ones), Kanye West's The College Dropout is marred by too many guest artists, too many interludes, and just too many songs period. (I challenge every hip-hop artist working today to record just one album with 12 tracks or less—no skits, no guests, no filler.)" They gave Late Registration the same rating, but crowned MBDTF as the best album of 2010 and gave it a perfect 5-star rating. Pitchfork had similar reservations about Dropout, but gave Twisted Fantasy the rare 10.0 and also named it the album of the year. I agree that their misgivings were assuaged, but that's because Kanye largely dropped the gimmicks: he got rid of the skits (well, nearly), he trimmed down the number of tracks and kept many of the guest spots shared between a core group of confidantes. And as a whole, the record felt a lot less scattershot or overlong, even though it still stretched to almost 70 minutes. For me, that record flies by in what feels like half the time that it takes me to listen to the other two.
I think your second paragraph is a tough question to ask, since you obviously have a big, important personal connection to TCD. I don't think there's a weak track on MBDTF (which ones don't you like, btw?), but there are a few that I skip on both College Dropout and Late Registration. It could just be a matter of perspective, of our differing musical roots and differences in what we look for in a hip hop album, but I have, over the past two years, gotten the feeling that the appreciation for MBDTF remains very heartfelt and widespread.