Today in Hip-Hop: Kanye West Drops ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ Album

On this day, Nov. 22, in hip-hop history…

Today in Hip-Hop: Kanye West Drops 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' Album
Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam

2010: Kanye West changed the rap game yet again when he released his fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on Nov. 22, 2010.

The seminal work was more than a year in making for Kanye. After wading through legal issues and suffering major public backlash over interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs, The Chicago rapper retreated to Hawaii in late ’09. Much the album was recorded in Hawaii, as well as New York and California. Kanye sat in with artists from all genres for recording sessions and invited many to stay with him in the islands as his guest during the process.

When Kanye finally remerged in the summer 2010, he seemed to be back with not only clarity, but a vengeance. The album was powered by authoritative, larger than life singles like “Monster,” “Power,” and “All the Lights” as well as a euphoric yet somber ballad “Runaway.” Always an artist, Kanye married the music with stunning full-length visuals. Features on the album include include heavyweights like Jay Z, Raekwon, Pusha T and Rick Ross, eager, spirit newcomers Kid Cudi and Nicki Minaj and outside the rap genre, Bon Iver, Elton John, Rihanna and Beyonce. There were hip-hop skits laced into the music, narrated by comedian Chris Rock. Production was handled by Gee Roberson (HHS78), Jay Z, RZA, No I.D., Mike Dean, Pete Rock and more.

Critics hailed the album for its grandiosity, Kanye’s honest lyricism and the overall sonic range. With delicate string progressions over harsh confessions about race, religion and sex, the album almost feels like one grand hip-hop opera. Kanye managed to make a movie on wax like never done before. Fans loved the Fantasy too. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 496,000 copies in the first week in the U.S. alone. The certified platinum album went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2012. Now, even six years later, MBDTF is rated among Kanye’s finest music masterpieces and stands as one hip-hop’s most inventive projects made in the new millennium.

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