Kanye West has been at the center of many controversies, but none compares to the incident when he interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs. The famous American rapper rushed to the stage and said: “Taylor, I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!” His conduct at the ceremony earned him great notoriety in the US and did irreparable damage to his reputation. Even former United States President Barack Obama made a comment on this, calling him a “jackass”.
However, such a prodigious negative reaction served at least one good purpose as it provided the catalyst for his magnum opus. He went to Hawaii after the event, aiming to do some extraordinary work. And there he toiled day and night to produce the hugely successful My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
1- Commercial success
The album was released in November 2010 and instantly earned the admiration of both listeners and critics. MBDTF was so extraordinary that even the haters of West had to admit the brilliance of the work.
At the time of the release, the rapper’s public approval rating was at an all-time low but that did not affect the sales, and just in the first week, it sold an incredible 496,000 copies in the United States and topped the Billboard 200.
2- Critical reception
MBDTF’s was an outstanding commercial success but what made it truly stand out was its critical reception. It received glowing reviews from everywhere and was given a score of 94 out of 100 from Metacritic, making it the fourth-highest score of all time for any hip-hop album. While several publications, including the Slant Magazine, XXL and Pitchfork gave it perfect scores and hailed it as the year’s best album.
Kayne’s contemporaries were also profuse in their praise for MBDTF, with Pusha T calling it “GOAT-level rap” and Elton John using “a genius record” for the album.
3- Collaborators and vocalists also played their parts
Extraordinary work requires extraordinary efforts and West left no stones unturned to make the album as perfect as he could. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was born after meticulous planning and relentless efforts in the studio.
However, it would be wrong to credit only Kayne for the impressive work as a number of collaborators also played their parts to make it such a prodigious success. Jay-Z and John Legend were some of the notable featured artists while Nicki Minaj and Justin Vernon also collaborated. Other big names Rihanna, Elton John, Alicia Keys and Charlie Wilson also made their appearances as vocalists.
4- Commitment and dedication
For creating such a masterpiece, West expended all his energy and demanded the same level of commitment and focus from all the contributors. He rigorously followed many rules and tried to enforce these rules on his team too. In order to create a totally focused environment during the long hour studio sessions, he disallowed tweeting, blogging and pictures etc. and asked the contributors to wear black suits too.
The Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA, who is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, hailed the American musician in these words: “The way everything happened was focused energy. I’ve never seen that from a rapper before.”
Many regard MBDTF as the best album of West, but the rapper himself doesn’t think the same.
According to him, 808s & Heartbreak and Yeezus were “much stronger” because they were more progressive. It is true that MBDTF didn’t have change the landscape of hip hop as 808s & Heartbreak did, however, it achieved many other things for the music genre. The great album made a major impact on the perception of hip hop in the 2010s.
Before the release of the MBDTF, very few hip-hop albums made it to the Pitchfork’s top-10 album of the year lists. However, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy became the first in history to be named Pitchfork Album of the Year and that helped to change the trend for hip hop. Now it is not unusual for hip hop albums to be named among Pitchfork’s top-10 album of the year.