In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, in honor of our upcoming Best Films Of The Decade So Far list, we’re talking about songs from some of the best records of the decade so far.
People shit on Kanye West a lot, and I get it. He’s a chattering egomaniac who’s married to a contour-happy reality star that a lot of people don’t like or get. He seems generally humorless, mostly ridiculous, and gives himself a lot more credit than he deserves most of the time. On the other hand, he’s really fucking smart, and the music he makes? God, it’s really good. A top-notch producer and rapper, and a boundary-pushing and somewhat talented conceptual artist that at the very least knows how to masterfully curate others, West has made some of the most interesting records of the last five years, if not the last 15.
Take, for instance, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which topped The A.V. Club’s Best Music Of 2010 list. Though there are single cuts I like better on 2013’s Yeezus, West’s work is more consistent on Twisted, with tracks like “Power,” “Monster,” “Runaway,” and “All Of The Lights” all hitting as monster singles from an album that never relents. I’m partial to “Power” above all others, though it’s one of those stereotypical tracks that finds West bragging about just how persecuted he is. Still, with turns of phrase like “Colin Powells, Austin Powers / Lost in translation with a whole fucking nation / They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation / Well that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation,” it’s clear that West is both a conscious and self-conscious rapper, as well as one that knows how to make a tight track. “Power,” like the rest of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is as thoughtful as it is artistic, and as perfect as it is aggressive. With Twisted, West became an artist in the collective consciousness, not a caricature of a rapper. He’s Kanye, and that’s enough. He’s Kanye, and that’s enough.