('AMP's & 808's' is taking a sabbatical for at fortnight, but you'll hear from us again in two weeks. Until then look forward to top albums coming out this fall, in our Holiday Season Preview below)
It's been a G.O.O.D. no great two months of free Good Friday, Kanye West music. That is apart from when some ungrateful fans leaked some of Kanye's new music, causing a brief hiatus for those spoilt kids. Still in creating a buzz for his upcoming 'My Dark & Twisted Fantasy' album and his collaboration albums with Jay-Z ('Watch The Throne') and Pharrell and Lupe Fiasco (Child Rebel Soldier) K. West has already released enough material for a G.O.O.D Friday album. With a lot of cover art style, striking red captions, bass, signature sounds and Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Kid Cudi and Mos Def, Kanye gives us some of his most valued work for free. So let's look at these cuts track by track.
POWER (REMIX) Feat Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz: If you thought the original was a bravado piece than you aint heard nothing yet. Kanye's really 'got the power' as the brilliant SNAP! change in the middle of this remix proves. Kanye & Jay-Z trade verses as good as they did on 'Never Let Me Down' and 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)' on their way to a throning. The two kings go hard with plenty of big production, plenty of autotune and plenty of Swizz Beatz 'ish' talking. There's no beautiful death on this remix as the power stays on. 4/5.
MONSTER Feat Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaji & Bon Iver: Kanye gets his swagger on a track that also features Jay-Z and Rick Ross, two guys who's swagger is always on a hundred, million. 'Ye takes it to a thousand, million however with his beat, bravado and flow. He even has the audacity to rename Malibu. Of course Ross and Jay keep this monster track roaring on with Mr. Carter practically name dropping ever monster. It's Young Money's Nicki Minaji however that is the monster that stands the tallest amongst the hip-hop skyscrapers with a verse so inhumanly brilliant that it's got to be heard to be believed. Oh and Bon Iver, (a guy who may not be used to keeping it crisp and clean with that beard) also blesses the track. The folk star rocks out with these fellas and looks the part. 5/5.
RUNAWAY LOVE Feat Justin Bieber & Raekwon: Who else in this game could put Justin Bieber and Raekwon on the same track but 'Ye. This Bieber fever is getting crazy, either West and Rae where on something or this kid really is on to something. This track proves it's the latter, despite the fact that Justin will never be street no matter how many times West calls him JB. Still ODB once said Wu-Tang was 'for the children' and mixing Bieber's hit with Raekwon's ‘Wu Tang Clan Aint Nuthing Ta F*** Wit’. is his 'Who would of thought it' genius. It somehow works. Even hardcore heads can't turn their nose up at new Rae verses over classic Wu, complete with singing that hits the right note. 4/5.
DEVIL IN A NEW DRESS: The Prada wearing rapper channels the dark side and fashions a great run of verses over a beat that sounds vintage, pre-Dropout Ye. Hit the books and check his history if you don't know. Mr. West even warns over losing your hot streak like one of his favourite rappers pastor Ma$e. Holy moly. 4/5.
GOOD FRIDAY Feat Common, Pusha T, Charlie Wilson, Big Sean & Kid Cudi: This is the celebration track for the G.O.O.D. label and Friday theme. Now almost everyone is on this track, complete with an end of the week feeling. Kid Cudi sounds grown on this track and Charlie Wilson and Pusha T feel at home. It's even more celebratory to see Common and Kanye reunited yet again for more classic material. In fact this is vintage uplifting music from Chi-towns finest. Light but hardly breezy, this is strong like the Windy city air. 4/5.
LORD, LORD, LORD Feat Mos Def, Raekwon, Swizz Beatz & Charlie Wilson: Forget 'Devil In A New Dress', Lord have mercy this may be the smoothest track Kanye has ever cut. At almost 6 minutes this track is no snippet. Each MC is given plenty of breathing space for lyrical exercise. 'Ye is 'Ye and as for Rae he sounds just as comfortable on something smoother as he does menacingly on his usual harder stuff. Even Swizz Beatz gets down on some lines, going in against bloggers...uh, hum. The usual energetic producer also sounds laid back and soulful, thank you Miss Keys. Wests label mate Charlie Wilson provides his trademark syrupy sound on the catchy hook but it's Mos Def that owns this track. His opening verse is his best in years and breathes for the longest. His intro is so damn good you almost want him to rap the whole song. Mos' real talk is the rap equivalent of his 'Umi Says'. 5/5.
SO APPALLED Feat The RZA, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz & Cyphi The Prynce: Now this is a heater for the winter ahead. The production is Halloween haunting and the verses are so epic, if they weren't so disgraceful they'd be biblical. It's Jay-Z again that offends the most with yet another classic verse for the rhyme book. Pusha T further shows why he was signed with malicious rhymes (but won't Kanye sign both of The Clipse now?). One of West's darkest beats yet deserves the perfect closer and that comes from the haunting rhymes of The RZA which again shows that Mr. West has been upping his Wu-Tang. This 's*** really is f****** ridiculous' as the hook says. Now listen to this and be really appalled. 5/5.
CHRISTIAN DIOR DENIM FLOW Feat Kid Cudi, Pusha T, John Legend, Lloyd Banks & Ryan Leslie: This branded song is labelled with great design. From John Legend and Kid Cudi's harmony to classic 'Ye violin and distorted vocals. Just like denim, the song is tough but a good look, you could even rock it with a shirt. The high class rap has more market value with Pusha T and Lloyd Banks's quality material. While just like with Common on 'Good Friday' it's great to see Legend and West reunited. They haven't missed a note. As the guitars come in the tone changes as Ryan Leslie sees how the track fits. With raps as cool as his croons Les' wears it well. What were left with on the rail is a great ensemble posse cut that is tailored in great fashion by Kanye. 4.5/5.
DON'T STOP! (Child Rebel Soldier): Most supergroups come with a lot of hype but often fizzle out and people end up believing in them as much as Public Enemy would in 'A Nation Of Millions'. Still years after 'US Placers', Kanye, Pharrell and Lupe Fiasco put it all in place to reunite as their unit, 'Child Rebel Soldier'. With an album on the front line the hype is back on and with 'Don't Stop' fans will be glad the group is starting back up. The three sound cohesive going verse for verse and Pharrell's raps get even better. With two beat men and two Chicago mic legends, Kanye has done it again. 4/5.
TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM Feat Pusha T, Keri Hilson & Cyphi The Prynce : You might want to replace your speakers in after this one because even those Dre headphones would have trouble taking one for the team with this much bass. Kanye opens with a lines even harder than the bass line. Taking it hard to the rack like Jordan with basketball references. Pusha T features again and is welcome as is Keri Hilson who makes herself feel at home with her flow on this guest spot. Still like every other free track present from Kanye he is the tracks gift. Like all ten tracks Kanye scores a top ten with his rhymes and production. With all these stars at his disposal Kanye still shines like the sun in the west. 3.5/5.
DON'T LOOK DOWN Feat Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco & Big Sean: It's Mos who provides the chorus for this song that also features Lupe Fiasco. The Black Star MC proves he's definitely Def by showing his versatility. Mos' ability to rap and sing seamlessly make him more than just a G.O.O.D. addition. Just like his roster Kanye puts this all together to true magic. Everythings on the up for West. Forget about looking down, Kanye isn't even looking back. 4/5.
THE JOY Feat Pete Rock, Jay-Z, Curtis Mayfield, Charlie Wilson & Kid Cudi: Kanye is the one that keeps giving us joy. With weeks to go before his albums released the fans are kept happy. Happy that Jay-Z's guesting again and happy that Kid Cudi's back on track. Happy that Kanye goes back to the old school with Pete Rock and happy that he goes back even further with some sensuous Curtis Mayfield soul. Speaking of sensuality guys will be happy Miss Brow (Foxy or Jackie), Pam Grier is bareing all on the songs cover artwork. Kanye keeps pushing the boundaries with his stylish and sexually provocative artwork. Mr. West is looking real good right now. Judging from the quality of these freebies, 'My Dark & Twisted Fantasy' is going to sell, sell, sell. 4.5/5.
LOOKING FOR TROUBLE Feat Pusha T, Big Sean, CyHi Da Prynce & J. Cole: The new best tag team in hip-hop, Kanye West and Pusha T once again go line for line battling with the haters and yet again they sound like family. G.O.O.D. family. Kanye uses the same sample that former Rocafella label mate and collaborater Cam'Ron used for 'Purple Haze's' 'Bubble Music'. The 'looking for trouble' sample may be apt here as Cam recentley through rocks his former labelmate and as Kanye sneers on the chorus in response to the sample, "But you found it m***********" , perhaps he is answering Cam'Ron back. Still on this heated banger it's Roc Nation signing J.Cole that goes the hardest, even after this beat and sample cut out. The next in line proves it's going to be a Cole winter with lines like, "I thought that real s*** is what you been fiending ’bout/what you been praying for? What you been screaming ’bout/ironic you been sleeping on the one that you been dreaming ’bout". 4/5.
CHAIN HEAVY Feat. Consequence & Talib Kweli: On this Q-Tip produced gem about necklaces. The renaissance man and the revolutionary rapper take it back to the old school all whilst flossing in all their shine. The track is also laced with clever rhymes from two of Kanye's oldest and most frequent collaboraters. A Tribe Called Quest affiliate Consequence gets the chain letter with great choker references including, "Uh, that old ball and chain had me chained up for weeks/Of course I'm off the chain as soon as I hit the streets/And now when we leak she saying the games over/I drove her crazy and she became a chain smoker". While Talib Kweli who Kanye toured with when he was coming up brings up some lyrical links draped with lines like "Some wear a suit and tie, they dont wanna remain average/Some wear a suit and tie like a chain in a straight jacket". All in all this trap looks right worn with anything. Sure it's flashy but it's got a lot more to say than bragging. It's a concept song and a conscious one at that and with the guys on this track, would you expect anything less. 4/5.
So as we await even more music from Kanye West we already have enough incredible material to tide us over even if he pushed the release of 'My Dark & Twisted Fantasy' back even more. With his weekly plays Kanye has done 'A Good Ass Job'. Now if these 'G.O.O.D Fridays' are anything to go by, what Kanye gives us the fall is going to be great. TIM DAVID HARVEY.