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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 808's & Heartbreak... Mr K West is back.. just great...
Kanye's fourth studio album is one that will certaintly spilt opinion. Coming on the back of an impressive back catelogue (including the College Dropout and Graduation) and ego to match, we couldn't expect anything less from Mr West

The first single (Love lockdown) will lead to some fans thinking kanye has fallen off. Indeed, I was dubious of purchasing this...
Published on 7 Dec 2008 by Rit

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars The Elephant In The Room
Any true assessment of the album cannot ignore `The Elephant In The Room' and that is Kanye cannot and will never be able to sing. Die hard fans will retort that people said the same thing about him rapping when he dropped his classic debut album "The College Dropout". My response to that is that singing is different. There's a reason why you never hear Quincy Jones sing...
Published on 28 Nov 2008 by LT Twalo


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 808's & Heartbreak... Mr K West is back.. just great..., 7 Dec 2008
Kanye's fourth studio album is one that will certaintly spilt opinion. Coming on the back of an impressive back catelogue (including the College Dropout and Graduation) and ego to match, we couldn't expect anything less from Mr West

The first single (Love lockdown) will lead to some fans thinking kanye has fallen off. Indeed, I was dubious of purchasing this album myself. However, Lovelockdown, in the context of the album, sits perfectly.

Some would say that the fact that each track on the album had to feature 808 drum patterns and the 'autotune' feature could lead to a 'car crash' of an album. Having listened to the album for a day straight... I disagree with this statement.

My standout tracks are: Welcome to heartbreak, Heartless, Amazing, Love lockdown and paranoid.

Essentially, this album is still great for me because Kanye has the ability to drop lines like "....my friend showed me pictures of his kids, and all i could show him were pictures of my cribs..."

this is 'hip hop' but not in the way we know it.. kanye has done pushed the boundries of hip hop...

well done kanye.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising., 28 Feb 2009
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge music fan, but usually lean towards rock, pop, soul and other genres as opposed to hip-hop. I downloaded this album because I was curious as to why West is so popular, and also because I heard this album was a major departure for him. I'm also a fan of 'break-up' albums and '808s & Heartbreak' has been written up as an autobiography of a failed relationship, as well as a record haunted by the much-publicised death of West's mother.

All of these factors made me curious and I have to say I really like this album. What's often put me off about hip-hop is the tendency towards macho narcissism and sexism in the lyrics - a generalisation, I know, but a common one - and a couple of the tracks here ('Heartless', 'Robocop') wander into that territory, but there are also some subtler songs here ('Say You Will', 'Coldest Winter') that draw the listener into West's emotional landscape. Likewise, much has been made in the press of the album's musical style - vast washes of synths, the 808 drum machine, and the much-maligned Auto Tune effects that distort his vocals throughout. They're techniques that give the record a rough, almost retro feel that actually fits, rather than takes away from, the personal tone of West's lyrics. Other reviews have described the music on this album as 'desolate', but at times it's truly haunting and there are enough beats and hooks to make it a fine pop record as well.

This album may not appeal to all Kanye West fans, but I think it's probably the most accessible of his records to the wider music community. Definitely recommended as an entry point. You'll be surprised.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous, bold album, 25 Nov 2008
I am a huge Kanye West fan. Seen him twice in concert and love all his albums and regard him as a shining example of all that is right with hip hop. But is this a hip hop album? Hard to say, he claims it is pop so maybe by his own admission this is no longer in the genre. Here are some comments from someone who heard the whole album first:

SAY YOU WILL - 4/5 - lyrically focused and shows that this auto-tune will work well. It is about an ex girlfriend some the sounds of it claiming "I still fantasize about you". There is a long outro to the song but it remains very listenable. There is a choir sound to it with minimal production and a great opener for the album

WELCOME TO HEARTBREAK - 4/5 - long cello to sopen the song followed by drumming and piano. The song reminds me of a soundtrack to something which I can't recall. The song considers Kanye's life versus his friends with lines like "friend showed me a picture of his kids, i showed him pictures of my cribs, showed me his daughter's report card, I showed him some sport cars" - Rather introspective song with Kanye asking where he went wrong.

HEARTLESS - 5/5 - This is a great song with an amazing video concept. The pace picks the album up. Definite chest popper. It is one of two songs on the album which sound closest to Kanye rapping again. It is a very addictive song. One of my favourites on the album.

AMAZING - 4/5 - lots of drums and 'clicking' - you'll have to listen to know what i mean - the autotune here is a little deeper than on previous tracks like Welcome to Heartbreak. there is this 'woo' which sounds very black rob or timbaland. A great long pause before introducing young JEezy whose gravely voice suits the song well. You would have thought he was in autotune as well!

LOVE LOCKDOWN - 5/5 - What can I say that you don't already know? Great video. The way the song paces in and out between choruses keeps you interested. The distortion for system overload. Piano, heartbeat of the 808. The tribal drums throughout the song that take over at the end with howling. This song still sounds rather gospel to me in its roots and exemplifies Kanye's ability as a producer. A+.

PARANOID - 3/5 - I am not a big fan of the 80s which is why I may not like this song as much as others but it is an accomplished track with synthesiers and again rather conventional rap like in some places. You would have thought this was genuine 80s pop otherwise.

ROBOCOP - 4/5 - There is this crashing sound and cocophany of noise at the beginning which leads into strings. It talks about a smothering, domineering partner. Transitions between jumpiness and smoothes out in the tempo. Great production by Kanye.

STREET LIGHTS - 4/5 - A lot of distortion in places. Towards the end there are new background vocals. It does sound a little bit like it is a on a loop.

BAD NEWS - 5/5 - Kanye sounds like Nina Simone here which is really interesting. Again tribal drums similar to Love Lockdown. Very strings rich and the 808 sound of the heartbeat. I have heard this is about his mother's death, which would not surprise me.

SEE YOU IN MY KNIGHTMARES - 4/5 - Lil Wayne and Kanye weave in and out of each other with Wayne also on autotune. Very synth sound throughout with strings only appearing towards the end. There is a lot of echo as well and just a few things going on but controlled well enough to make it sound very minimal. Before I think Kanye used to layer sounds where as here they are more lateral if that makes sense. You hear things one after the other instead of one on top of the other.

COLDEST WINTER - 5/5 - This is about the news of his mother's death. A lot of distortion in places and 808 pulses. It is a close, intimate song with the repeated line 'memories made in the coldest winter, goodbye my friend, will i ever love again?'. One of the best songs on the album.

PINNOCHIO SONG - I dont really rate this and I think it is of general interest. I think that the album could have easily ended with Coldest Winter.

This is a spectacular album and you should believe the hype about this. I will be disappointed if Kanye does not return to his usual hip hop music but if this is what is to come from him I cannot be disappointed. This is a necessary addition to your Kanye collection. Once again it sets him out as a daring artist in hip hop where things are becoming mundane. One of the best albums of the year, easy.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new direction and a new sound, 7 Dec 2008
By 
C. Lee (Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this hoping for a bit of a move on from the patchy Graduation. Well this is totally different. There is absolutely no doubt that Kanye West is a man of extraordinary talent. Whilst I thought he was an excellent producer he had slipped into a bit of a rut, tied to using the same (speeded up) samples and beats. He even did this when he produced other people's albums (Talib Kweli's Quality, Common's Be, etc). This was fine but I thought he might have shot his bolt, got pigeon-holed, good as he undoubtedly was. He tried to do something a bit different with Graduation, using more electronica and dance rather than jazz and funk samples. However, I felt he missed somewhat. There was also the problem that he was no more than a competent rapper, not bad (like say 50 Cent) but hardly Nas or Guru.

Anyway then I got hold of this excellent album. It was very different from the previous albums and proved me totally wrong. He is more than capable of reinventing his sound and also a strong singer in a more traiditional sense. This might be termed as more R&B in the modern sense of the word, a sort of soul-hip-hop fusion. Kanye seems to have written genuine music rather than constructing from samples and whilst it still has much of his trademark style it is an exciting new direction. It kicks off with a dramatic swirl of synthesisers and grows as it goes.

The subject matter is clearly his recent unfortunate past. Bereavement is there but the absolutely dominating factor is break-up. The title somewhat gives this away, but the sense of despondency and gloom hangs over the whole thing. This is absolutely a break-up album in the old-fashioned sense. He is not vulgar enough to give specifics of his own life but every song is about cruel women, cheating women, a life bereft of relationship and meaning (Welcome to Heartbreak talks graphically about how his friend discusses his kids and he is left only with the empty trappings of wealth). The whole album is shot through with a streak of bitterness a mile wide! Mind you that's no bad thing as it lends it an almost ethereal air of melancholy, which is cleverly built up with very spare music, produced on a synthesiser, not the samples and layered beats he is known for.

The only criticism I would level at this album is that the musical simplicity is too much, in that the whole album has a sameness of sound that emerges as it goes on. At first it seems different in style, but a listen to the whole thing brings the inevitable feeling of monotony. This is as much a product of the negative and miserable tone coupled with the simple instrumentation as it is of anything else. This is, however, a minor concern, since this feeling doesn't come til near the end. Listening from the start is a pretty bleak but moving and strangely entertaining proposition.

Let's hope he experiments and shoots ahead of the competition next time too!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignorance will ruin sales....but who cares!, 25 Nov 2008
This is a great pop album, with blues and hip hop elements.
Hip hop fans, give this one a chance, im a fan of kanye and hip hop in general, and thought i wouldnt wanna know about this album after hearing love lockdown, but i can safely say that the single is one of the more average songs on the album.
Just listen to the authoritative nature of "amazing", the dark tones of "see you in my nightmares" and the generally heartbreaking song dedicated to his late mother, donda west, "coldest winter".
Give this one a try guys, its a very in depth look at a mans pain and heartbreak, just vibe out with it.808's and Heartbreak
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kanye bucks the trend, makes a gamble - it pays off......, 24 Nov 2008
I'll admit, I'm a huge fam of Kanye West with College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation among my favourite albums. When Kanye announced 808's, and album created with autotune and 808's drum machine I was hugely skeptical. A strange direction for someone so successful and had found there niche in the market. But 808's is not for the market primarily. By sidestepping the trend and the genre which Kanye has already pushed to new boundaries, he makes a huge gamble but it pays off. It's personal, thoughtful and inward looking. Something those who judge him would never believe. He's on a whole other level with songs like 'Welcome To Heartbreak', 'Robocop' and 'Heartless' in ticular although lead single 'Love Lockdown' and the bonus 'Pinnochio Story' are fascinating. There isn't really a weak song on the album. Sadly, most will find this too different to be listenable (I notice it's nowhere on Amazon music homepage visibly or in it's charts). But for those of us who appreciate strecthing the boundaries, for those of us who are up for a change and some experimenation as well as an insight into what makes Kanye tick, the answer is here. It soars, it provokes thought and will take many listens to take in fully. It's his most emotionally driven work, a turning point and a revelation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kanye's Triumphant Return, 21 Dec 2008
By 
Lumpster (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I've got all of Kanye West's albums but, on the whole, have tended to like 3 or 4 tracks (mainly the singles) on each, which I've stuck on my iPod and then haven't really played the whole album again. But this is very different - what a fantastic album. Mellow, melodic, catchy and a real triumph. The 1st single - Love Lockdown - is fantastic but the rest of the album is equally as strong making it's his best and most consistent album to date by a country mile. Whatever your musical taste, buy this album and give it a go - you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Return to Form, 7 Dec 2008
By 
G. L. Williams "simplygregguk" (South West England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was skeptical after hearing some press reviews but i have been thoroughly pleased with a great album from Kanye. It is a different sound which i welcome. I would rather him do that than stagnate like so many other artists of our time. Songs such as 'RoboCop, Welcome To The Heartbreak, Love Lockdown, Heartless and Street Lights are absolute classics.

A great album. Go into it not expecting much and you will be blown away!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Innovative, 12 Nov 2008
By 
N. Kennedy "music lover" (The Moon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have a great respect for artists who choose to follow their gut when creating, and that is exactly what Kanye has done with this new record '808's and Heartbreak '

He has left his old style behind, that being the hip hop genre and moved on to a more R&B, pop style, which if your an old school Kanye fan can mean bad news.

Love lockdown is the first single from the new album and took everyone by suprise, the single upon relase recived mixed reviews, but has gradually become accepted by many fans, but is still hated by few. The main reason for all the controversey is Kanye 'singing' in auto-tune, an effect which allows you to sing in tune while putting a robotic effect on your voice, this is an effect that dominates the record.

Heartless is the second single, and is my second favourite on the album, the first being ' Coldest Winter'. The song is sung by Kanye in auto-tune with some light rap thrown in.

The most impressive thing about 808s & Heartbreak is how all tracks were produced and written by Kanye, something we don't see a lot of these days by other artists. All the tracks are very impressive, 'Robocop' and 'amazing' stand out, the only low point is "See You in My Nightmares" simply because Lil Wayne is on the cut.

Hardcore Kanye fans will love it or hate it this album, while us casusal listeners can just enjoy something fresh and unique sounding.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Elephant In The Room, 28 Nov 2008
By 
LT Twalo "Luzh" (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Any true assessment of the album cannot ignore `The Elephant In The Room' and that is Kanye cannot and will never be able to sing. Die hard fans will retort that people said the same thing about him rapping when he dropped his classic debut album "The College Dropout". My response to that is that singing is different. There's a reason why you never hear Quincy Jones sing although he is responsible for some of the greatest songs ever. The same is true for Diane Warren who has penned some modern classics, all, for other artists. That's because while rapping is a combination of one's ability with the pen as well as delivery (voice, breath control, swagger etc.), singing is all about talent (vocal range etc.)

Here's the point, Kanye West overstepped the line by releasing an album were he sings more than three quarters of it. The vocal distorter machine does not make up for his inability. T-Pain can sing and he uses the Vocoder as an enhancement. Kanye (and Lil' Wayne I should add) use it to disguise their limitations. For this reason, "808s & Heartbreak" is a failure in my view.

Now on with the review: K West must be commended for his boldness, he has 4 albums and no two sound alike. The same guy who produced `Swagger Like Us' this year also produced `Say You Will', two equally powerful songs that could not be more different, and that is the genius of the man. The production throughout the album is really top-notch, the approach is more electronic with fewer live instruments. The horns and samples that have characterized K West's sound over the years are abandoned in favour of pianos and 808 drums. The influences are 80s pop (`Paranoid') and rock (Coldplay, Radiohead etc). Traces of hip-hop are ever present because of the 808 drums but there are also songs that betray his hip-hop roots like `Amazing'. Even the way the lyrics are delivered walks the thin line between singing and rapping which is nothing new nowadays.

Thematically, Kanye sticks to the "Heartbreak" script pretty closely. It's unusual to here Kanye West without the comic outtakes and with the exception of the hilarious (unintentionally?) `Robocop', "Heartbreak" is a very serious affair. His EGO is also put aside as K West exposes his tender side. The trappings of fame (`Welcome To Heartbreak'), lost loves (`Coldest Winter') and broken relationships (`Heartless') are all explored here. For some reason, it's difficult to relate to this softer Kanye. He has spent the better part of 4years inflating his EGO to astronomic levels and the switch is just too drastic. I'm sure over time we'll be able to adjust to this Kanye, but for now it is tough.

Imagine if Kanye West had brought along all his rapping friends who can sing like Andre 3000, Cee-Lo, Mos Def and yes T-Pain too. If he had allowed them to take centre stage while he plays orchestrator. This album would have been so different, so much better
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