Ten years ago today, Kanye West released his fifth studio album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Following a period of public criticism after West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s speech at the VMAs, West retreated to Hawaii to construct an album that comments on the theme of excess fame, including the title which refers directly to this theme. Constantly flying out different artists to aid in the production process, West reportedly never got a full night’s sleep in his rented “glass-enclosed mansion”, instead rotated between his three session rooms and took power naps there. In the first week, 496,000 copies were sold and eventually increased to 2 million.
The rapper, along with features from a variety of artists such as John Legend and Bon Iver, uses narrative lyrics throughout tracks to address his internal conflicts. Unable to be defined by one certain style, songs like “POWER” and “Monster” are upbeat hits, while “Runaway” emphasizes West’s personal struggles with containing his creativity in a way which pleases the public to the backdrop of solitary piano playing. “All of the Lights” uses vocals from more than 10 artists to explain life in the media-created limelight; ironically, living amongst “all of the lights” causes darkness and despair for West. Altogether, fans experience West’s highs and lows throughout achieving his “fantasy” while listening.
Widely debated as West’s best album, MBDTF reached new limits in hip-hop and created an impact to inspire artists long after its release. Kendrick Lamar has accredited this album as inspiration for his own music; Alicia Keys, J. Cole, and Travis Scott have sampled the album many times in their production. Despite not being as notoriously sad as West’s previous work, 808s & Heartbreak in 2008, MBDTF possesses a vulnerability which many can find relation in. A decade past its release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is unarguably influential and will continue to impact the music industry for years to come.