the new kanye west single isn't good

"Love Lockdown" by Kanye West. You could right-click to download, but I don't recommend it.

One of my favorite interview moments ever [back when I was pretending to be a journalist] was getting up-and-coming producer KiTone to snap on Kanye West's rapping skills. Way the eff back in 2003, when people were beginning to dig the Get Well Soon mixtape, whether West was a decent rapper or not was the subject of much debate.

Ki had roughly this to say: "Man, fuck Kanye as a rapper! *disgusted noise* He sounds like a drunk stumbling over a beat!'

West turned himself into a passable commercial rapper, but back then, I agreed with KiTone's assessment - that however good Kanye could get 'as a rapper', he was so prescient as a producer it would be dumb for him to do anything else.

Five years later...we were right. Kanye should have just stuck to producing. Now that he's not rapping anymore, he's making some atrocious junior high shit.

For his first non-school-themed major effort, 808's and Heartbreak, it certainly sounds like Kanye wishes he was back in school. This sounds like someone very, very unsure of their direction. The beat for this first single, "Love Lockdown", is interesting the way a skeleton hoodie is interesting. 'Huh, I wonder why he's wearing that.'

The beat doesn't fit West well - the 808's are ill, but the minimalist, no-drums verse/reprise don't work with the rushed polyrhythmic 'Keep your love locked down' chorus. The singular handclap's a bad idea, and the melody line is bleh.

West uses Auto-Tune and Pitch Corrector throughout, making a trapped-in-relationship joint extend to the audience. For all I know, this is the true Kanye West, and he should be recognized for taking a huge career risk with this departure in sound. But dammit, this is awful. It doesn't grown on you, it doesn't stay with you, but it does, incredibly, make you long to hear him rap.

Maybe that's the idea, and the next single will be a Twista-and-'Fest-featuring cipher. We can dream.

[That picture wasn't very flattering, but neither is the always lovely C+D]