After fully embracing Kanye West’s newest mix tape “Blackout,” I admit that it surpassed even my highest expectations. This mix tape is arguably one of the most balanced and artistically well-rounded compilations of songs that I’ve ever heard.
What’s so special about its well-rounded nature is its reflection of the development of West as an artist, placing particular emphasis on the impact of his recent fatherhood. Although having a child might seem to many as a contradiction to the thug identity West frequently proves to uphold it. Sections of this mix tape refreshingly allude to a more human side of Kanye, most notably in the song “Only One.” The song recovers sounds similar to his past album “808’s and Heartbreak” while employing lyrics that capture the love and pride of becoming a father. It’s without a doubt that certain songs, such as “Only One” bring soothing, refreshing rhymes to the audience’s ears.
Another surprising yet revitalizing aspect of the tone choice of West’s songs for “Blackout” was an overarching impression of positivity. The most obvious example of this can be found in the mix tape’s 5th song “Tell Me I’m the Only One,” placed directly after the first song that mentions his baby daughter, “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’.” It is this juxtaposition of the harsh sounding vocals of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” against the uplifting instrumental of “Tell Me I’m the Only One” that directly reflects West’s transition as an artist and as an individual. This combined with the song’s placement directly after West’s first ever song about his daughter is musically brilliant. It’s talent like this that many of West’s listeners fail to stop and see.
What’s even more notable about the overarching positive sound among West’s mix tape is the choice of his final song, being arguably the most positive and elevating song of the entire collection. Unlike any other song in the album, “D’Banj Scape Goat (remix)” puts a tropical, fun sounding background over an unbelievably catchy rap that sounds purely happy.
Lastly, as was expected, West went back to his roots of gangster raps against Party and Hood style backgrounds. The mix tape’s 12th song, “Sanctified,” puts down a beat perfectly accented by an orchestra of synchronized strumming. The beats combined with the vocals evoke a sense of power and confidence in the listener that hits the heart at a seemingly primal level.
One of the more impressive, but less obvious, aspects of the mix tape is its unbelievable variety of sound and style. A great example of this can be heard in the mix tape’s eighth song, “Can’t Stop,” that employs a smooth, relaxed sounding background with subtle electronic undertones. The intensity of West’s rapping voice is immediately cooled down and relaxed by the chilled sounding instrumental. This is done so much so that it opens up entirely new perspectives on West’s rapping and producing abilities.
The reality of this new mix tape by Kanye West is that it brings entirely unique sounds, styles and moods, combining them into a single collection that perfectly reflects his newfound development as an artist. Despite what many people think of West, this mix tape has been put together in a way that expresses intelligence, expertise and a needed touch with one’s own emotions. Through all of this, West’s “Blackout” mix tape is enjoyable to listen to start to finish. He has truly put together great sounding songs and an unbelievably impressive variety of sounds and styles.