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CD Review: Kanye West 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Rock-A-Fella)

After mending his broken heart with plenty of AutoTune and self-pity on 2008's 808s & Heartbreak, hip-hop's most visionary player comes back strong on his fifth album — an hour-plus journey into the dark, twisted, and brilliant mind of Kanye West. He's all over the place on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — skimming hip-hop, pop, R&B, alt-rock, and more — but he never sounds unfocused. (The Kid Cudi and Jay-Z guest spots aren't a surprise; the Bon Iver ones definitely are.) If there's a connecting theme to the 13 tracks, it has something to do with West's restlessness and desire to cram as many ideas as possible into a single song. "Power" is a clap-along ego trip powered by a King Crimson sample. "All of the Lights" skitters so furiously, it almost skids off track. And "Runaway" assembles plinking piano, fuzzy guitars, stabbing strings, and rhymes about West's dickhead ways over nine breathtaking minutes. Excessive? Yes. But also unquestionably excellent. — Michael Gallucci

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