Marcus Aurelius
heartbreak
A tittie bit more than five years ago, Outkast turned the hip-hop scene on it’s collective ear with the release of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below as the double album follow-up to the irrefutable best two album run ever, Aquemini and Stankonia. The album would go Diamond with some finagling of the numbers by the record company, “Hey Ya” would officially become the Canadian National Anthem, and original Outkast fans were disenchanted because of one reason—Andre 3000 decided to baptize himself at the alter of the Purple One Formerly Known As The Guy Who Whipped Charlie Murphy in Basketball and trade in his lyrical prowess for falsetto vocalizations. Listening back to The Love Below, the songs hold up remarkably well (especially “Happy Valentine’s Day,” “She Lives in My Lap”, and “Vibrate”) for as much dissapointment that was felt.

Outkast became the sixth artist in music history to have a number one single replaced by another one of their own as “The Way You Move” replaced the Brass Monkey smash “Hey Ya.” Suprisingly, the next number one song on the charts was “Slow Jams” by Kayne West featuring Jamie Foxx and Twista. West’s newest magnum opus, 808s and Heartbreak, a vocoded excursion into the melancoly, stirs up these emotions from five years ago but there is a monumental difference: I’m eating it up like John Goodman at a Mister Donut half-off sale.

On my bootleg copy(*not in the same order as the actual album I found out later), Heartbreak starts with “Say You Will” and it’s immediately known that this ain’t no Graduation. The bleeps and bleeps from the heyday of ColecoVison stir the soul. West bemoans an ex in touching fashion:

When I grab your neck/I touch your soul
Take off your cool/then lose control

The simplicity is disarming.

For the last three minutes of the song, there is nothing but the loop of the beat quietly taking the listener into the cheerless void. “Heartless”, “Paranoid” and “Street Lights” contiue West’s journey into the loverorn territory for good reason: most of the album was produced around the time his mother passed away from complications of plastic surgery and he relationship publicly dissolved.

West loves to experiment with drums and “Robocop’s” is no exception as it reminds me of a transformer getting ready for battle. ESPN’s most popular blogger (sorry Bill Simmons), Lil’ Wayne drops some Lil’ Wayneisms on “Tell Everybody That You Know” while Young Jeezy ad libs his way through the stop and start sounds of the 12-minute “Amazing.” “Coldest Winter” will be piping through headphones wrapped under skullys, touks, hoodies, and earmuffs all season long.

Heartbreak is the antithesis of Kanye West. He’s the pampered SUPERSTAR who Ja Ruled 50 Cent to become the biggest artist in the world right now. Heartbreak screams one million sold first week and a Grammy Awards sweep (place your bets now).The genius of Heartbreak is that it could have also been made by your 15-year old neighbor who posts his every keystroke or MIDI mess up on the Internet for all to see. Like Kobe Bryant jumping over the snake-filled pool to dunk the ball in the YouTube video, Heartbreak is a high risk gamble into lo-fi territory. That’s why he’s Kanye West and you’re not.

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