Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My opinion of Kanye improves

Kanye West - Love Lockdown
Live on The Late Show with David Letterman

This might be one of the most inspired performances I've seen on a talk show (via YouTube) in awhile. Letterman put it well, "Ooo, buddy. Whoa buddy! Whoaaaa buddyyyy! How about that?!?!"

About a week ago, I quickly scanned the 30 second samples on iTunes of his new album, 808s and Heartbreak, but I didn't hear anything worth pushing the $9.99 Buy Album button. I stopped test driving songs after listening to a clip of a tune called "RoboCop." Enough said. After watching this performance however, I circled back and bought the $0.99 single of "Love Lockdown."

While his recent albums have been enjoyable (not to mention excellent for iPod party playlists), they have trended towards that bland distinction of "commercial." What made Kanye's sound fresh on albums like Jay-Z's Blueprint and his own The College Dropout started to seem gimmicky and formulaic. Sped up samples of old Motown/R&B and clever lyrics about bling just got stale.

Rather than re-invent himself with a new gimmick (although some might argue the auto-tuner is exactly that), Kanye opted to present us with a Pinkerton moment. Love it or hate it, 808s and Heartbreak is an artistic risk—and what would art be without risk? Instead of repackaging "Through The Wire" and trying to sell us a "Sweater Song: II," Kanye has his heart on his couture sleeve and delivers his own "Tired of Sex" with "Love Lockdown." Let's just hope he avoids a Green Album follow-up. ("Island in the Sun" is a nice song, but come on... it's a fraction of what "Across the Sea" is).

Maybe I'll forgive him for starting that whole ridiculous shutter shade thing now. Then again, people at Girl Talk concerts do need something to protect their eyes.

And if you are unable to follow the Weezer references, you need to buy this:Weezer - Pinkerton.


Steve said...

yes, but his singing can sound chill-givingly weak sometimes, no? i guess it works well enough here. the track is huge.

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