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Production Breakdown: Every Beat From Kanye’s “Dark Twisted Fantasy” Album (Updated!)Posted by Richard on 01/22/11 | Filed under Top Stories, Best Of, Features, Kanye West, Production Breakdown
"Dark Twisted Fantasy"
What better place to start, then, than at the ending? Nah, just messing with you – if I were attempting a thematic analysis of MBDTF, then the Gil-Scott Heron poem sampled in closing track “Who Will Survive in America” might be an excellent starting point, but we’re talking about production here, so let’s begin at the beginning.
In contrast to the poem mentioned above, Minaj’s spoken-word intro seems about as relevant to the rest of the album as your average newspaper horoscope is to real life – as in, you could draw any number of interesting conclusions, but there isn’t much “there” there. (Sorry, astrology fans). What is there, though, is arguably the project’s first sample/interpolation. Chip, a user on the Kanyetothe.com forum, points out the similarity to these lines from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory writer Roald Dahl’sRevolting Rhymes
(the opening to a retelling of the Cinderella story):
“I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
just to keep the children happy.”
I’ll leave it to y’all to argue over whether this is a coded admission of Yeezy’s desire to marry a handsome prince, who the ugly stepsisters in the scenario are, and so on… I’m gonna move on to the actual beat, which finds West joining forces with fellow heavyweights No I.D. and RZA to set the tone for the rest of the album. Stark piano loops, studio-tweaked backing vocals and pensive strings all add to the alternately spacious and constricted feel of the instrumental. And in the midst of it all, we hear a sample from “In High Places,” an ‘87 single by English composer Mike Oldfield.
Yes, that’s a dude singing – actually, it’s Jon Anderson, the dude from progressive-rock group Yes. And, no, I’m pretty sure his voice couldn’t get much higher.