Wednesday, February 25, 2009

808s & Heartbreak

808s & Heartbreak is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released November 24, 2008 on Roc-A-Fella Records. Conceived in the wake of multiple events that impacted and distressed West the previous year, the album marks a major musical departure for him lyrically, vocally, and production-wise. It is his first album without the Parental Advisory logo and his first without his Dropout Bear mascot. Although the initial reaction to the stylistic change was mixed, 808s & Heartbreak received generally positive reviews from critics upon release and was met by commercial success. It is West's third album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 and went on to become West's fourth album to reach platinum status. The album received a nomination for Outstanding Album at 40th annual NAACP Image Awards.


Following the release of his third studio album Graduation, the remainder of 2007 and the following year featured events that emotionally affected Kanye West. On November 10, 2007, West's mother Donda West died due to complications arising from cosmetic surgery involving a tummy tuck and breast reduction procedure. Months later, West broke off his engagement and separated from his fiancée Alexis Phifer.At the same time, West struggled to adapt to his newfound pop star status he had once strived to achieve, often becoming the subject of media scrutiny. The loss, loneliness and longing for companionship and a sense of normality served to inspire the conception 808s & Heartbreak. West stated that "This album was therapeutic — it's lonely at the top."

West felt that the emotions he felt within his heart could not be fully expressed simply through rapping, saying that aside from the fact that rapping had limitations, there were "melodies that were in me — what was in me I couldn't stop." West went to classify 808s & Heartbreak as a pop album, stating his disdain towards the contemporary backlash to the concept of pop music and expressed admiration for what some pop stars have accomplished in their careers.He later stated that he wishes to present the music as a new genre called "pop art", clarifying that that he was well aware of visual art and wished to present a musical equivalent. "Either call it 'pop' or 'pop art', either one I'm good with."

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