I’ve spent a long time over the past few weeks trying to determine what role Kanye West plays in the mighty hip hop royalty family. Why he doesn’t quite fit into the normal hierarchy, Kanye West of more of the Lord Baron of hip hop, with a firm grasp on his kingdoms’ craft. This dark lord brings his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to the table today, and it may just be his best work yet.

Let the BaRFing begin!

BEATS: 9/10

It’s only right that all the shit Kanye talks is properly backed up. He’s been flipping the world off for a long time, telling us that he knows he’s the best, and I have to give credit where it’s due; the beats are definitely some of the best I’ve heard this year.

Gorgeous is the second track on the album, and really got the guitar right, without sounding like a rap/rock collaboration was forced upon it. The chorus following the guitars, with a light piano dressing and hip hop drums sprinkled on top was a hell of an appetizer for the rest of the album.

The third track was so damn catchy, and caused such a stir with its imagery; POWER was my first favorite. The chanting women I wasn’t sure about to begin with, but sooner or later, I found myself chanting along, with the bass beats vibrating the room.

By far though, the best beat on the album is the seventh track, So Appalled. The strings were beautifully put together, with the heavy bass hits, the vox-filtered yelping, and spaced out noises, this didn’t climb the top of my list; it flew.

RHYMES: 7.5/10

While not usually known for his subtle words, Kanye impressed me on this one. I can’t put a finger on what songs I loved the best really, but I felt like Kanye has grown up. Turns out the huge amount of tweets he puts out in ALL CAPS every day were for a reason.

Kanye is like a hip hop version of the current affairs, telling us “The systems broken/the schools close/ the prisons’ open” from his hit track POWER. He talks about love in his track with John Legend, Blame Game, talking about the very real arguments we go through in our weaker moments. He even admits to his many faults in the ballerina ballad, Runaway. While some may say it was a cheesy song, I really did feel like it was honest.

FEATURETTES: 9/10

I was a big fan of all the contributors on the album on both the producer and singer credits, with Kanye’s mentor, No I.D., penning two of my favorite track on the album.

Emperor Hova took time out to respond to the MC Hammer beef (which btw, what the hell is Hammer thinking?) on So Appalled, and instantly put the issue to rest whilst talking about the recent 30 million dollars he just spent. Owned.

Fresh from her recent album, Princess Rihanna joined in for the beautiful chorus of track five, All of the Lights. I’ve developed a lot of respect for her this year, with good feature roles, and an even greater album that just came out this month as well. Combine that with Nikki Minaj on Monster, and we have an even bigger winning album.

The best collaboration was obviously on So Appalled. Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz and the RZA make a supergroup worthy appearance. RZA was the biggest surprise, coming in for a few bars towards the end of the track. I feel like this was a nod to Kanye being the next hit maker of the beat world.

For the new Kanye listeners (is that even possible) this is his best work yet, or at the very least, on par with his first album. For the old listeners, do you feel like Kanye is making a step in the right direction? Sound off in the comments, and go get the album ASAP!!

Until next time my friends,

~Flak