i’ve listened to kanye west’s “all of the lights” featuring…everyone (Alicia Keys, John Legend, The-Dream, Drake, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, Elly Jackson, Alvin Fields, Ken Lewis, and Rihanna) about 200x over the last three days. literally. looped at work, in the car, at home, it is this pop masterpiece that i cannot get enough of. and i don’t use that term lightly. last time was probably gaga’s “bad romance” which pales in comparison (sorry, LG).
note the video below is of the ‘explicit’ version, the five-minute-plus extravaganza, not the official single/radio version, which lacks both profanity and punch. it does, however, have a much cooler, hazardous-to-epileptics video directed by hype williams.
i swear on the first ten plays, every single time fergie’s lines kicked in (“unemployment line…”) i thought, “whose meth face voice is this?” until i googled it. and then it all made sense.
i also googled for reviews that support my superior opinion, because i’m insecure. at least one person in da WWW agrees with me:
Nothing says hip-hop like French horns.
Only Kanye West could have pulled off a track like “All of the Lights,” possibly the most dense, ambitious and ridiculously over-the-top moment on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—which also happens to be the most dense, ambitious, ridiculously over-the-top moment of both 2010 and West’s career.
From a production standpoint, “All of the Lights” is the very definition of “headphone worthy,” layering enough left-field sonics and instrumental texture for a ’70s prog rock suite. After the beautiful, blaring French horn intro (nearly militaristic in its urgent refrain), West and co-writer/producer Jeff Bhasker introduce a plethora of tricked-out sounds: buzzing synths, an orgy of soulful vocals, and a super trebly programmed snare that sounds like a ping pong ball bouncing off a brick wall in outer space.
Lyrically, West is apocalyptically serious, his grave images of spousal abuse and police chases somehow perfectly matching the maniacal mood of the music. Indeed, the “lights” of the song’s title aren’t just those of the night club—we’re talking “cop lights, flashlights, spotlights, strobe lights, street lights,” a recipe equal parts disorientation and ecstasy…
– Ryan Reed, American Noise
popcrush also offers this equation: “Sonically, it’s almost like a harder version of Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s collaboration ‘One Sweet Day’ meets Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s ‘Tha Crossroads.'” not sure that i agree, but i’m laughing at memories of the latter.