Kanye West’s fourth album, “808s & Heartbreaks” is something completely different then West’s three previous releases displaying a complete change in style and subject matter; West’s main focus is now heartbreak. “808s & Heartbreaks” mainly consists of Kanye singing his sadness about love. It’s suspected that he is referring to his ex-fiancee, Alexis Phifer on the majority of the tracks. However on the album’s closing track, “Coldest Winters” its obvious that West refers to his mother who passed away last year.
The unexpected attributes of West’s concept album don’t stop there. For instance, West sings on the entire album with the aid of Auto-Tune, which he is proud of using, deeming it “the funnest thing to use.” During the Hawaii (area code 808) recording sessions, West insisted that each track had to feature the Roland 1980’s model synthesizer entitled TR-808 to generate the drumming, stating “[N]o typical hip-hop beats, they’ve gotta be tribal drums.”
“808s and Heartbreaks” is an album that is full of love songs with auto-tuned vocals, tribal drums, pop-beats similar to those heard during the 80’s, and a style that sounds rushed, extremely different and an attempt to re-invent pop music. Meshing musical styles, Young Jeezy is featured on the track “Amazing” in which he does the only rapping on the record.
Don’t call it a rap or hip-hop album. West has classified “808s & Heartbreaks” as pop music, which seems to be the goal of the album – that isn’t achieved. We’re left with an entertaining look at how pop music could sound like, but hopefully won’t.
release date: November 24, 2008