808’s & Heartbreak

20 11 2008


The most talked about album of 2008, to many it’s an attempt to cash in on the electro scene, to others it’s an experimental album full of emotion or a theraputic tool for an extremely rough year.   Either way, Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreak is an album that should not be taken lightly.   With the release of 2 singles that received mixed reviews and leaked songs that weathered a hail of heavy criticism, 808’s will definitely have a lot of people talking on release day.  I was able to get my hands on a retail version of the album, while it’s not the Kaws version pictured above the main album is still the same.(Plus KAWS is the shit and I like this cover better!)

Track 1: Say You Will

This track is epic, simply amazing the songs construction takes you from the opening string crescendo through a beautifully assembled choir background right into the lyrics.  The song sets the emotion of the album gripping the listener with a sense of sorrow and mournfulness.  Kanye pretty much embodies the album’s name in this song using the legendary 808 kit and pushing that emotional message.  My favorite track on the album. 9/10


Track 2:  Welcome To Heartbreak

Another track that cuts straight to the chase, the melodic piano backdrop is glue automatically sticking to the listener.  The lyrics describe Kanye’s struggles and sense of emptieness and the desire to have more than material positions.  Obviously a very emotional song for Kanye, employing Kid Cudi for the chorus and taking the bridge in his own hands, the song ascends into a powerful wave and then subsides into a ripple.  8/10


Track 3:  Heartless

This track opens with the chorus, crisp, clean and again emotional.  The bass kicks you and the melody intrigues you, the simple organ tune provides the perfect counter balance for the track.  Definitely a song describing ‘Ye’s previous relationship.  A song that describes the immediate aftermath of a failed relationship, it’s definitely a track we can all relate to.  With relavant lyrics and top notch production this is one of my favorite tracks.  8.5/10


Track 4: Amazing

Taiko drums and a piano, the songs simplicity is zen-like, powerful and efficient.  The tracks general mood is one of triumph and confidence, definitely something Kanye intended for his critics and doubters.  With Young Jeezy lending a hand in the form of a screwed and chopped ad lib and a verse, Amazing is just that,  amazingly simple, well crafted and a stand out track. 8/10


Track 5: Love Lockdown

Staying with the theme of simplicity, Kanye throws in a heavy 808 bass line as the spine of this track and once again employs the taiko drums and grand piano.  The first single off the album, it personified the overall mood and theme that every other track would follow.  Kanye’s lyrics are haunting, mournful and painful.  The construction of the song is like a roller coaster, the verses are subdued and the instrumental reflects the calm nature.  When the chorus comes in the listener is shot forward into a barrage of taiko drums setting the pace for the songs exit.  A favorite of mine from the very first listen. 9/10


Track 6:  Paranoid

The first up beat song on the album, the 16 bar intro is mellow compared to the extremely danceable body of the song.  The lyrics are straight forward, a woman’s paranoia in a relationship and occupy the first half of the song for the most part.  The song while promising at first tends to feel a bit empty despite the hooks sparing repitition.  The listener is almost left with a cliff hanger of a song listening to a few measures of an instrumental that is in desperate need of lyrics.  A disappointing track but still well produced.  6.5/10


Track 7:  Robo Cop

Crunch, one of the prominent sounds you’re greeted with upon approaching this track, a brilliant series of string for the skin for the 808 kit skeleton of this song.  Kanye’s lyrics are once again a bit more up beat and aren’t really the high light of this song.  Actually I’ve totally disregarded them and I’ve went upon the over all mood of the track.  The strings are dominant through out the track and we actually get to hear Kanye’s voice sans auto-tune as he closes the track.  A decent track not a favorite but listenable.  7/10


Track 8:  Street Lights


Back to the mellow emotional mood of the album.  Kanye utilized a distorted synth and the name sake drum of choice to construct this track around his auto-tuned vocals.  The song is simple, tried and true for this album.  The lyrics are metaphorical and describe life’s journey, clearly an emotional song for Kanye.  A good song, not great but good enough.  7.5/10


Track 9:  Bad News


Simplicity yet again, 808’s, check, taiko, check, grand piano, check, orchestral strings, check.  This song is extremely relevant and emotional, the lyrics describe his reaction to news that his partner has found someone else.  A powerful song that I’m sure ‘Ye put a lot into definitely one of my favorites.  8/10


Track 10:  See You In My Nightmares

The syrup sipping gremlin and the Louis Vuitton Don, quite possibly the 2 most popular rappers right now have made quite a track together.  The song is a song of triumph after a failed relationship and the lyrics lay wonderfully over the string laden beat.  Back with relevant lyrics and the albums trademark simple grandeur, Yeezy and Weezy pumped out a stand out track.  8/10


Track 11:  Coldest Winter

GIVE ME MORE TAIKO!!!!!!!!  Kanye uses the Love Lockdown formula for another standout track, mellowed subdued lyrics with the occasional tsunami of takio drums during choruses and hooks.  The songs content is mournful and gloomy but still manages to be an amazing song.  8.5/10


Track 12: Bonus Track: Pinncochio Story

A live version of what seems to be a song that didn’t make the cut,  the songs lyrics describe again Kanye’s emptiness despite his material assets.   His lyrics prove Kanye’s gone through hell this year and how hard he struggles with the cost of fame.  A great song, another favorite.  8.5/10




Despite all the criticism, I give Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak an 8/10.  As with most other albums there are one or two skippers but in no way was I expecting Kanye’s best album of all time.  I think the proper approach to this album is to accept it as experimental, take it for what it’s worth.  Yes it’s different but that’s what makes it good, it’s a dynamic album that I think Kanye NEEDED to record.  There’s a lot of heart felt emotion in this album and it’s full of content we all can relate to.  So, let go of any inhibitions you may have about 808’s and when it drops go out and support Kanye this album is worth it.


I know I said I wouldn’t leak anything but I have to give my readers a treat.  Here’s my  favorite track off the album Say You Will, enjoy!

Kanye West- Say You Will