CD REVIEW: Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Deluxe Version) [Explicit] [+Video] [+Digital Booklet]
With his fifth album in six years, Kanye West has returned with a truly dark mix of tunes. While his two previous albums may have been musically his best and turned out some of his most popular and well received songs, his latest is by far his most artistic and abstract. Kanye West sees himself as a visionary and makes that known throughout the album, and not just with his cunning lyrics. He leaves no stone unturned and pulls out all the stops creating a collection of songs that have some interesting beats, incredibly excellent use of instrumentation that is not traditionally used in hip hop, and a who's who of guest appearances. The most notable of the appearances are by his usual suspects, Kid Cudi and Jay-Z, both who appear several times and throw down at the top of their game. Kid Cudi's appearance on "Gorgeous" is dark and spooky like this album and on "Monster," Jay-Z's verse is as good as anything he's released on his own. The craziest of guest spots is from Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) who sings on "Monster" and is sampled on "Lost In The World." Comedian Chris Rock handles a comical outro on "Blame Game" which also features guest vocals by John Legend. "Monster" is one of the album's best, featuring a stunning verse by Nicki Minaj, and could be Kanye's "Thriller." "Power" most closely resembles his previous work, and the song "Runaway" is the backbone and the most artistic of the album, clocking in at over 9 minutes. Finally, on "All Of The Lights" Kanye supplements his own lyrical genius with guest background vocals by practically everyone including Rihanna, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Drake, Fergie, and even Elton John. He may be controversial, but he's edgy, talented, and always at the top of his game, and although his latest may not be as pop accessible as some of his previous releases, it stands as one of the best pieces of artistic music released in 2010. It will receive huge critical praise, and rightfully so, and just forces Kanye to keep elevating his game even further.