What strikes me as interesting about Ryan Dombal’s 10.0 review of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, isn’t that the taste-making website gave out a rare 10.0 (this is the first non-reissue album to get a 10.0 [and only 12th all-time, ALL-TIME!, to do so] since Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot did so in 2002), but that there’s almost nothing in the review that would justify such a high score.
What we get instead is a review that’s couched within the context of Kanye’s personal life and not necessarily indicative of the record’s music. Sure, there’s ample comparison’s to Michael Jackson, but I don’t get the sense just how good any of the music actually is, or why this would warrant a perfect score.
This isn’t the same resourceful prodigy who made The College Dropout or even the wounded soul behind 808s and Heartbreak. Instead, Kanye’s Twisted Fantasy incarnation cherry-picks little things from his previous work and blows them up into something less than sane. The expansive, all-encompassing nature of the album is borne out in its staggering guest list which includes mentors Jay-Z, RZA, and No ID, along with new charges like Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. The inclusion of Minaj (who contributes the schizoid verse of her life on “Monster”), Ross (a guy known for making up his own reality as he goes), and Cudi (who’s probably even more wildly self-destructive than Kanye) especially adds to the hallucinatory tone. By the time Chris Rock shows up to provide comic relief during one of the album’s bleakest moments, it begins to feel as if Kanye is stage-managing his own award show with enough starpower, shock, and dynamism to flatten the Grammys, the VMAs, and the rest all at once.