More or less immediately after dropping My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and watching the critical accolades come pouring in, our man in Chicago went dormant, seemingly content with successfully executing every element of his carefully engineered comeback plan and uninterested in dragging out this particular, bright-burning moment. There was that Christmas song, an odd, deeply appreciated afterthought to the G.O.O.D. Friday series (which did much all by itself to make 2010 an interesting year for music), and the “Monster” video, presented unofficially and received ambivalently. But otherwise, silence, amplified mightily when held next to all the interesting noise he’d been making for months before. ‘Ye dropped out as suddenly as he’d returned, hinting at an impressive, heretofore undisplayed ability to turn off the persona. Well, never mind all that — he’s back now!
This weekend’s flurry of activity is presumably tied to its most interesting revelation: While popping up for a surprise mini-set at Jay-Z and Coldplay’s rich-person Vegas New Year’s Eve party, Kanye announced that Watch the Throne, the Jay-’Ye collaborative album Vulture has been eagerly anticipating, is “coming in one week.” Last time Kanye talked at length about Watch the Throne, he said a single would be coming New Year’s Day, with the album to follow in February. Looks like they decided to accelerate the proceedings — which, you know, is great.
Elsewhere on the Kanye watch: A reactivated Twitter. Notable highlights from this recent stretch: “Fur Coats and shit,” “Can’t Tell me Nothing on the Radio … Jordan 3s on my feet! Hands in the fuckin sky,” and “BEAMER BENZ OR BENTLEY … OBVI.”
And, finally, a connection assumably unrelated to his reemergence: The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica today examines the aforementioned critical massing for MBDTF, crediting the phenomenon not so much to the music (which he liked; it came in third on his year-end top ten) as to “the unimaginative group-think the album has spawned.” Reasons elucidated for why the critics all got together on this one include it being released late in the year, Oscar-movies-style, and its music-writer-friendly oversharing. But mostly: “These ratings and rankings make a statement about not only the presumed quality of the album, but also about institutional decisions regarding an artist’s worthiness, and about those institutions’ desire to be seen acknowledging an artist’s worthiness.” (Also: “’My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ may or may not have been the best album of 2010. Believe what you will. Either way it’s not even the best Kanye West album.”)
So, to recap: new performance footage; new album; new tweets; interesting critique of the legitimacy of album’s critical acclaim. Good weekend!