Guest Star: "[Rating Kanye West] 5 Mics Wasn't Necessarily My Decision"
Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010 2:35PM
[With Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy receiving a rare 5-Mics from The Source, reviewer/contributor Andreas Hale speaks on his analysis]
To be honest, there was not a lot of pressure reviewing My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The Source gave me a call to review it and I said, "Cool, let's do it." As a guy who has been in the business a long time reviewing albums, I didn't really look at this as being excited or anything in particular, I just viewed it as an opportunity to review an album.
I listened to the album on my Beats by Dre headphones which is really the best way to listen to an album like Kanye's because sonically, the music is incredible. That's first. Love or hate Kanye West, the music this guy makes is above and beyond what anybody else is doing at this particular time. I have been a fan of Kanye's work for some time. I listen to albums a lot. Sometimes it takes me several hundred times before I come to a decision. I listened to [the album] in my car, on my headphones, at the house, on my laptop, even before I had the opportunity to review the album.
Let's be clear. Five mics wasn't necessarily my decision. That's a decision made at The Source. It's not anything where I came forward and said "It's five mics, and that's it."
It was an internal discussion that came about from the review. First and foremost, Bonsu Thompson [Source Editor-In-Chief] is someone who is willing to jump out and do something like that. When he was at XXL, he gave the XXL rating to [West's] Late Registration. So it's nothing new for this man to jump out on a limb and agree and say, "This is a great album."
Taking a step back, when I was reviewing the album, to me, it was all about the realism, music, vibe and feel of the album. For Kanye, in the review, I basically said he took all of the elements from all the albums he has done in the past and they all came to fruition. They all were put on steroids for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. There were elements of 808's & Heartbreak, there were elements of Late Registration, there were elements of College Dropout. It seemed like, sonically, he took all of those elements, put them together and then on top of that, the guests were perfect. Especially with "Devin in a New Dress." The first time I heard it without Rick Ross, I thought it was dope when it leaked. But when you hear it on the album, the guitars come in and the keys hit, and then even Ross' verse, it's just a really great song. It's one thing artists don't do today, which is make really great songs.
Kanye really has this [ability] in his head where he can take you somewhere emotionally from beginning to end because you're kind of riding with him on his journey. When I wrote the review, I turned it around pretty quick and Bonsu got a hold of it. I didn't really assign it a rating, I just put the words down. Me and him discussed it being a really big album and from that point, it was coming to an agreement that this was a classic album. Again, all the credit to Bonsu for taking that jump because he really believes in it, he agreed with the review that this reflects a 5-Mic album.
Andreas Hale is a veteran hip-hop journalist and founder of The Well Versed. In addition to being a contributor to The Source, Hale is a former editor to HipHopDX, BET.com and HipHopSite.