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Arts and Entertainment

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreaks | Thoughtless But Not Heartless

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Artist: Kanye West

808s & HeartbreaksLabel: Roc-A-Fella
Release Date: November 24, 2008

The older models that once dominated hip hop have officially been superseded by auto-tune—a corrective action amidst a heavily saturated genre. The hyper-inflated, mechanical effects of the aforementioned tool undoubtedly help to achieve a heavy-hearted tone. And it definitely compliments the lonesome lyrical content, which West strains to convey with a puerile sense of entitlement—as though he's the only person ever to have experienced such personal anguish. But, more often than not, the picturesque pretense strewn throughout 808s & Heartbreak masks any semblance of true emotion at hand, constituting a pretty wearisome gimmick.

If the primary objective of West's fourth album to date truly is emotional nakedness—as displayed in a relatively primitive manner to a select few at the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles on October 14th—then he has certainly foundered in a sea of acrimony. Songs like the leading single, "Love Lockdown," and "Heartless" stray from grandiloquence to prove a point. The rotund-yet-minimal instrumentation paves the way for his plaintive, robotic wailing. And it's plain to see that his adversaries are complicit in wrong-doing. But West often fails to communicate anything beyond the self-evident.

And what's more, "See You In My Nightmares," which features Lil Wayne's gruff and sophomoric double entendres, serves as the pinnacle of all contrivances. The listener finds Wayne rattling off indignant ripostes: "You think your shit don't stank/ but you are missis P U." The childish rhyme renders whatever context he's striving for utterly meaningless.

Kanye West - "Heartless"

Unfortunately for West, the same can be said for "Robocop," as it is predominantly comprised of two slapdash remarks. Through a series of repetitions of "okay" and "spoiled LA girl," he finds himself striving for an embittered, self-involved disposition—a cockeyed stance that has evolved into a pretty pitiful idiosyncrasy. And once this level of minimal focus becomes apparent, the real truth becomes exponentially difficult to ignore: 808s & Heartbreak lacks forethought and West may be characterized by greater discrepancy and lesser self-awareness forevermore.

The verisimilitude of his performance is about as plausible as T-Pain being "N Luv (With A Stripper)." To paraphrase a good friend, "The talk box died with Roger Troutman, everyone else should just quit it." And thus the notion of an automated, pitch-perfect response to the trials and tribulations of life suggests thoughtlessness, but certainly not heartlessness. We've all got our coping mechanisms; some are simply more skin-deep than others.