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Working title I this track is “Welding Gun". Another loose beat in the stash. Check it out. It got a Boom Bap funky sound and bounce to it. Kinda simple and has some space for someone to flip some vocal styles on it. Has a certain energy I dig. Hope you dig. Ya dig.
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On this day in 2008, Kanye West released his fourth and most divisive album, 808s & Heartbreak.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who will make the case that 808s & Heartbreak is Kanye’s best album. His most influential? Perhaps. The one that changed the trajectory of his career? Definitely. But the best? That’s a tough argument to make. It might be correct, though.
Lost in the discussion of whether Drake bit the 808s sound and sensibility to start a new age in hip-hop, and the question of what Kanye was even doing here, singing stream-of-conscious, despair-filled pop songs over spare electronic beats, is that this is a focused thesis statement.
We all know the story of this album; Kanye’s mourning album that’s really a breakup album, following the sudden losses of the two most important women in his life. And it is a raw outpouring of loss and bitterness, but it’s also something more than that. 808s is a reflection on a Faustian bargain gone wrong, a message from a man who achieved everything he wanted—fame, fortune, critical adoration, and a place in canon—but realized too late that it was at too high a cost and, to his horror, there was no going back. 808s is the sound of living with decisions you regret.
Much ink has been spilled on the sound of this album; it either pioneered or helped define a new epoch in hip-hop, spawned the genre’s next ascendant star and eventual usurper of Kanye’s throne, and it still serves as the linchpin needed to understand his career. It’s even more telling that, in 2015, Kanye took the stage at the Hollywood Bowl to perform the album for two nights in its entirety. It’s the only album he’s ever done that for, and it’s hard to imagine it happening for another. —Brendan Klinkenberg