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Kanye West

"Monster" (feat. Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross & Bon Iver)

[Def Jam / Roc-a-Fella; 2010]

By ; September 7, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Whenever an artist like Kanye West goes quiet for any extended period of time, the term “eye of the storm” is an appropriate metaphor. It’s been about a year now since his widely criticized stunt at the 2009 VMA’s, wherein he might as well have executed a puppy with the absurd backlash that he received from just about all corners of the blogosphere, Twitter, and every A-D list celebrity you can think of, (including the President). Since then, though, Mr. West has been very well behaved, as it took an embarrassing appearance on an equally embarrassing talk show to put the hysteria to rest, (unless you had an internet connection) and for a good part of the last year, West has been holed up in a Hawaii studio putting together his next release, tentatively titled Dark Twisted Fantasy. As this release approaches, the eye of the storm moves, first “Power,” some remixes, and an EP – welcome back to my speakers, Kanye.

“Monster” can be found on that aforementioned EP Watch the Throne, which Kanye has assembled with fellow hip-hop titan Jay-Z. This is a lucid banger done only the way Yeezy can – the beat is deceptively simple as the chopped sample scurries back and forth between the bullish, synth-glazed percussion. Rick Ross only gets the intro, and West and Hova’s verses are passable, with West coming out on top between the two, however it’s Minaj that clearly steals the song and single-handily makes this one of the best cuts of the year. Nicki’s 2010 releases have mostly been middling at best, but on this, along with Usher’s “Little Freak” from earlier this year, she stands out with a fury. Her flow is refreshingly unpredictable, going from violent to cartoonish to just plain bonkers, completely eclipsing the track and making it her own. She’s pissed off at the implication that she’s merely a rookie when she gets paid “50k for a verse” with “no album out,” reminding her haters that while she’s on a diet, her “pocket’s eating cheese cake.” The song is bookended by a heavily layered hook by indie darling Justin Vernon, an artist that seemingly only Kanye West would think about luring into a hip-hop studio. Hey, it worked.


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