When Kanye West sings about “jerk-offs that’ll never take work off,” you’d best believe he means himself. Being crazy is this guy’s job, and judging from the sound of his music, business is booming. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his most maniacally inspired music yet, coasting on heroic levels of dementia, pimping on top of Mount Olympus. Yeezy goes for the grandeur of stadium rock, the all-devouring sonics of hip-hop, the erotic gloss of disco, and he goes for all of it, all the time. Nobody halfway sane could have made this album.
Last time, Kanye went minimal for the electro melancholia of 808s & Heartbreak. But on Fantasy, he gets ridiculously maximal, blowing past all the rules of hip-hop and pop, even though, for the past half-decade, he’s been the one inventing the rules. There are hip-hop epics, R&B ballads, alien electronics, prog-rock samples, surprise guests from Bon Iver to Fergie to Chris Rock, even a freaking Elton John piano solo. It’s his best album, but it’s more than that — it’s also a rock-star manifesto for a downsizing world. At a time when we all get hectored about lowering our expectations, surrendering our attention spans, settling for less, West wants us to demand more.