Sunday, January 25, 2009

808's & U.M.C. The Kanye-Common Controversy

Referrring back, again, to the blog entry I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Take On Music, I mentioned that music can be loved or hated, dissed or respected...and that music should be more than just for listening or other pleasures...(I said some shit like that...refer back...)

Anyways...I can take account and attest to 2 particular albums that just recently came out last year. Especially, one everyone is hating or loving. These two are 2 of Chicago's forefront MC's in Hip-Hop...Kanye West and Common. Kanye's 808's & Heartrbreak and Common's Universal Mind Control, specifically. I don't really have a problem with these two albums...okay, maybe one of them (like I said...really...I'll tell you why, soon...) but what I hear from other people around me...It doesn't bother me, but I felt like I should give some insight into why you should at least enjoy and appreciate music like these, especially 808's and Universal Mind Control.

We all understand that we don't have to like certain types of music, right? I hope...I know I can be the same at times. But I learned how to get around the whole dislike/hate attitude towards all music. That's why I'm more appreciative and acknowledegable than I was before. I ain't boasting or bragging or anything like don't be actin'-a-fool up on my face. Sure, to some of us, oldies can be as shitty as hell...but as they say, "Oldies, but goodies." I believe the respect, knowledge, and understanding of music altogether should be taken into consideration...which brings me to the two albums I just mentioned a moment ago...808's & Heartbreak and Universal Mind Control. First, I'll give you my take on 808's...

I didn't really like it (see where the really came in...?) nor enjoy Kanye's fourth album, to put it bluntly. Reason? Well, it was totally different...the whole him singing. But that wasn't it, really. The real reason? Annoyance. Annoyance by the fact that his singing was done using that damn Vocoder/Auto-Tune shit! Not even half-way through the album...I could not stand it anymore! It was really getting in my nerves. First Kanye...? Dude, that's overkill! Too much with the autotune man...WAY too much. BUT! After awhile (like...30 more times listening to the album...) I gradually got used to it...and I kinda like it now--I say that loosely, by the way. I never hated it from the beginning...I just didn't like it at first...I wasn't used to it. And we all get that feeling/mood when it comes to don't lie if you haven't felt like that. So what does the album feel like? Sorta-kinda emo...mellow-drama-ISH...dreary/dark. A little rapping here and there...But if you really wanna know what it feels like, pick it up sometime. So, with that, I also did a little researching on 808's, reading other critics reviews and Wikipedia-ing about his album...i.e., the concept and foundation of his whole album. That's the other reason why I fully understand his album and now that I enjoy it. Here's just a snippet of what Wikipedia states about Kanye's album:

Conceived in the wake of multiple events that impacted and distressed West the previous year, the album marks a major musical departure for him lyrically, vocally, and production-wise. Although the initial reaction to the stylistic change was mixed, 808s & Heartbreak received generally positive reviews from critics upon release and was met by commercial success. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and went on to become West's fourth album to reach platinum status.

(Read more about it here after the jump)

Now, this album (in my opinion) isn't something I'd listen to again and again...except me trying to get used to it multiple times, that first time...Maybe one or two tracks in the album...but after, say, two times listening to that album...I'm done. Time to switch to some other shit...

But you gotta give it up to the dude...At least understand where he's coming from...In January's issue of Vibe magazine, there was an interview I read about what he felt making the album...the times, struggles...and what people thought about his album and what they perceived about him...even the whole Auto-Tune usage in his album that he gives an explanation...It's for a reason and feel. Really some in-depth stuff. It's a good read. I don't really hate him...he's doing him. He's himself and there's nothing wrong with him being different and all...Not scared of change...but we people seem to be scared of change. Why is that...? He also talks about finding beauty in imperfection, while people think and believe...and feel, that beauty is all in perfection. Reading this is like reading his whole mind, body, and soul in one sitting. He's doing what he's doing...and that criticism bullcrap...he doesn't give a damn. Respect the work he gives...Good job my man...

Do I love it or hate it? That's the real question. My answer...? It's in between...

Common's Universal Mind Control. Before his eighth studio album came out, his single, Universal Mind Control (U.M.C.), came out in the summer of last year--I think July or somethin'--and at first I didn't really enjoy it--too tacky, poppy; just wasn't feelin' it--but then, when the album dropped on November 11, 2008, I started to groove with it. I like the whole Hip-Hop/Electronica thing...but done right, I might add. Just like I did with Kanye, and other albums I have, I did research about it--Okayplayer, reviews, videos, track commentary etc.--and I gotta say...(no offense to Kanye's album...or to others out there who have Kanye's) it's A WHOLE LOT better than 808's, to be quite honest. This is something that I have on rotation for the past 4 weeks already--by the time you've read this. I can't stop listening to this album, though it's short--10 tracks; almost plays like an EP. Though short and's still somethin' that I'll always bump. So get this album if you haven't already. What does it feel like? Summer time beats...uplifting-type shit. Flows are and production are tight, held down with production from The Neptunes...and several other guests on the album, Chester French and Muhsinah, just to name a couple...

I said something about researching...on Common's album, right? Well, let me tell you this. There was this video I watched and they were interviewing/promoting his album and whatnot...and in it (this is what I enjoyed about it...and other albums. The other reason why I like this album...) they broke down each track--like a track commentary thing--and on each track he explains where, how, and why he came up with all 10 tracks you see in his album. The whole conecept...busted out the whole nine...It was fascinating, yet informative. I like how artists/interviewers go hand-in-hand sometimes going out of there way asking different questions and sharing what's within the album and artists. Yeah, just thought I'd share that with you.

So, with all of this being said...what do I think, overall, for both albums? Simple. Though, I do like one of them more than the other...To be fair and honest...I actually like 'em both. It's just a matter of taste. Can't really argue with that now, right?

See, music fuses. But music serves a purpose in everyone. That's one point, if you guys didn't catch that...

Gyeah. Learn to appreciate, and it'll appreciate you back...
Get a chance to go beyond just listening to the music...experience it by digging deeper. That's a real enthusiast of music...

Do you see my point about music now...? (I don't want to repeat it.)



  1. Wow, you've got some pretty interesting stuff here. I've got to agree with you on a lot of things. I too didn't really like Kanye's new album as a whole. There were two song that I really enjoyed right off the bat, and you can probably guess which two I'm talking about. =p Since I got my hopes up based on those two songs when I started listening to more of his tracks I was really disappointed, especially in his song Robocop. I was just like...okay Kanye that's enough. I definitly give him his props though. Any artist who is willing to do something that he wants to do no matter what his fans or the critics say is an artist who I think is truly in it for the music. I appreciate how he doesn't "sell out" to gain more popularly and how he'd rather lose "so called friends" then betray himself and what he feels. I only wish there were more muscians out there like him. Even though he does have a tendency to get a little cocky everyonce and awhile. =D

    In regards to Common's new album I haven't really listened to it. The only song I've heard was Mind Control and I thought it was pretty good. The song sort of reminded me of Mantronix with the whole hip hop/techo/electronica thing going on. It was fresh and it took me back a bit. Perfect song to listen to when your just chillin'.

    Anyway, you've got some good stuff here. I like your insight into both albums and I'll definitly be sure to check out the rest of Common's new album. =]

    - Shalia

  2. SHAY! one really gives me this long of a comment. Thanks! Damn, she said she knows Mantronx! Hell yeah...And also Planet Rock. That has some influence on U.M.C., too. You're almost as good as me on this whole music shtick, lol.

    Yeah, I agree on the comment you made on Kanye...he doesn't give a shit if people don't like it or not...and he isn't afraid of change. He goes overboard unlike other artists who try, but then it just doesn't turn out well for that artist or for the people out there. So yeah...thanks again, Shay.