Heartbreak Has Kanye Singing

Bold, brooding album piques critics' interest, though it's 'occasionally unlistenable'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 25, 2008 3:04 PM CST

(Newser) – Kanye West’s latest, 808s and Heartbreak, finds the rapper changing his tune, singing instead of rapping and mourning instead of boasting—and the result is “bold, fascinating, foolhardy, occasionally unlistenable,” writes Jody Rosen in Rolling Stone. While its '80s drum tracks are a “pleasant shock,” West has forgotten an important lesson: “Heartbreak is not incompatible with wit, or with sharply drawn details, or with a buoyant beat.”

“At best,” writes Jon Caramanica in the New York Times, 808s “is a rough sketch for a great album, with ideas he would have typically rendered with complexity, here distilled to a few words, a few synthesizer notes, a lean drumbeat. At worst, it’s clumsy and underfed.” But Steve Jones, in USA Today, applauds West’s “well-crafted lyrics” and choice to “ wisely brushes aside” the “creative limitations” of pure rapping.