Picturing a fantasy is simple. There are various instances of pleasures, items which cause the body to feel enamored, loved and held up on a higher pedestal. For every great pleasure there is in the world, there is also a darker one – one that swallows people into moving on their worst vices. Whether it is drink or drug of choice – it only adds further to personae and egos to the point where it’s all the person knows.

In taking in Kanye West’s fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, those vices would be everything that has attacked West for the past three years. West’s tribulations have been well documented, almost to the point where Kanye essentially turned to a social network and made it his own personal place of catharsis. Instead of shutting everyone out of his mind and the varying images that are produced, West let in everyone from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon to Pete Rock & The RZA to help create what is probably the most sonic and outrageous point in a career that was built on changing sonic landscapes.

Through his own guerrilla promotion campaign, West has notified us all of his impending album ever since he combined world drums and King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” into “POWER”. West started his ascent towards opening the Pandora’s Box that is his mindset taking aim at Saturday Night Live and those who’ve taken to the media to ridicule him. The emotion carries over throughout most of MBDTF where West runs through the gamut of foes whether it be his relationships, his actions or even his own standing in hip-hop.

Everything that West started building from the moment he dropped his debut album six years ago comes into full fruition on MBDTF. The chirpy chipmunk soul samples & heavy drums he absorbed from The RZA, the grandiose stadium feel of certain choruses and horns from Jon Biron and the muddled vocals that shaped his last full length LP are all touched on MBDTF. Even if the album starts off with a quirky Nicki Minaj narration – Kanye holds no punches by dropping a punchline heavy opening salvo on “Dark Fantasy”. The ethereal chorus work opens up and begs a question – can we get much higher?

The same vulnerability and candid output Ye showed on earlier efforts has changed drastically since we got to know him six years ago. Fame ate him alive and instead of speaking directly for all of the working class, he sits atop varying chords and MPC drums believing that’s how the working class feels. Everyone has a “Blame Game” inside of them as well as a “Runaway because both work as a duality of sorts.

The first celebrates the douchebag in relationships and direct finger pointing (along with Chris Rock driving the point home with a crude skit that either damns Amber Rose or damns hip-hop period).  West contorts his vocals like 88-Keys to offer the aspect of many voices running through the mind of a jilted lover and the effect works to perfection. The other is the douche’s way of being apologetic by taking direct jabs at himself, easily letting light chords and brooding pianos paint the story of the man who knows he screws up, will easily admit it but never really change because that’s how he is.

That same guerilla marketing campaign that Yeezy used to push out new music every Friday finds its way bellowed in the middle of MBDTF as only one of the three tracks gets reworked into something bigger. Both “Monster” & “So Appalled” benefit from the game being brought by their features, whether it be Nicki Minaj’s show stealing verse on Monster or Jay-Z’s partial motivational warnings on Appalled. By taking a Smokey Robinson slow cut and crafting it into “Devil In A New Dress”, West easily traces his own design from The College Dropout, not only by making it one of the best produced gems on the album but by playing on clothing brands and ideas in his verses. Playful yet direct, Ye knows full well he’s baiting his listener in to laugh and sing with him as he releases his pain, not just shake their heads. With Rick Ross closing out the show with his own interpretation, it’s hard to knock anything from West’s fantasy. It’s engrossing almost every step of the way.

The brief interlude leading into the giant posse cut “All of the Lights” finds West chasing pop’s most unattainable figure – Michael Jackson. It’s chest thumping parade music that paints a giant effigy of Jackson which if you’ve seen West’s Runaway film is hard to miss, even in audio form. Skittering drums and numerous voices flutter throughout Lights although Fergie of all people holds the distinction of having the most undeserved verse on MBDTF as RZA’s chorus on “So Appalled” is both hilarious and forceful.

As Gil-Scott Heron closes the album with “Comment #1”, the question he poses is “Who will survive in America”? The better one after “Lost In The World” is how is Kanye was going to conjure up the energy to try and top his latest effort. He asks on the KiD CuDi & Rakewon featured “Gorgeous”, “Is hip-hop just a euphemism for a no religion? The soul or the slave music that the new generation is missing?” It might be because through stretching instrumentals to the bitter end, West has crafted a near 80 minutes album with just 11 actual songs to work with. The overindulgence in harmonies, drums, distortion and grandeur have created a monster, one that by far stretches what you think a hip-hop album would sound like. Despite its genre classification, MBDTF is an event more than an album and even though scrutiny may wear heavy on the head of Mr. West, his carries the crown of creating audio game changers – time after time.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5