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Culture Shock

808s & Heartbreak V. 808's & Harpbreak: Kanye West V. Netherfriends

On March 3 I was browsing through Spotify when something caught my eye.

There is an album called 808's & Harpbreak. My first thought was "Oh I've heard of that album, its by Kanye West" looking closer the album is by a band called Netherfriends, a band that I've listened to before. I'm not the biggest Rap/Hip Hop guy (I say this as a precautionary tale) so I haven't really heard any of Kanye West's music, and I've only heard a little bit of Netherfriends. So with that being said I decided to compare the two albums track by track.


If you decide to listen to either album:

If you like Netherfriends listen to: Suckers, TV Girl, We Are Trees, Dent May, Toro Y Moi, Etc. (I am familiar with this sub-genre)

If you end up liking Kanye West go on the street and shout: "I LIKE KANYE WEST! WHO ELSE SHOULD I LISTEN TO?" and you will get an answer 1000% better than any answer I know.

(This is a subjective process so the fact that I am doing this is moot... YOU FORM YOUR OWN OPINIONS)

I will just write small blurbs about each of the songs from each of the albums

Say You Will: With repetitive lyrics this isn't that much of a thought provoking song, but the instrumentation that makes me feel like I'm in a Gothic church with a constant drum beat and beeping noise is actually okay. Otherwise.... Auto-tune.... Really?

Welcome To Heartbreak (ft. Kid Cudi): At the beginning of Kid Cudi's relevancy (I actually went on google trends and searched Kid Cudi... Just so see when he was relevant, because lord knows after speeding bullet to heaven he should not be relevant for a long time this was a good feature and the melodies and buildup after they say the name of the song is pretty enjoyable... though what it seems to be building up to I have no idea.

Heartless: JESUS when was the first time I heard this song. This is the first time I actually intentionally listened to this song. This song brings me back to 8th grade and bar mitzvahs... Listening to this song isn't just a poor flashback but listening closer just makes me realize how flat this feels. This song just feels like catchy poppy garbage that Kanye West looked at and said... Yeah good enough, everyone will like it even if all of the singing sounds like auto-tuned garbage and the only good part is the backing piano.

Amazing: Looking at this from an outsider's perspective in 2016 I do not know the goal of this song. Is the goal to repeat the title of the song 25 times? Is the goal to be edgy? What are people supposed to do when they hear this song at a concert? At one of Jeezy's six peaks both the feature and the actual songs just seem like they are there to inflame ego. The grunts in the background makes this song what it is. The slow monotonous beat helps though it makes the instrumentation less muddled within the singing of the song. Almost needless to say: AUTO-TUNE

Love Lockdown: See "Heartless" I have the same opinion... if you showed me this song first I would have said the exact same thing

Okay its time for me to put something straight, this album is a victim of its time. I understand well that this album was ground breaking. These songs were some of the best of 2008... but this is indicative of the state of pop music of that era. Chris Brown's "Forever" was on the top of the charts at that time. If you listen to that song right now and you call that a piece of music excellence that will stand the test of time, I would call you insane. Music from that era does not age well, you can let Ne-Yo tell you that. I will admit something else, the lyrics though covered with this dated auto-tune are provocative and personal. The lyrics actually mean something and that is something that pop music form 2008 does not have in the slightest. The lyrics show a pain of going through life without substance, while everyone around you has their life developing into something meaningful. West is actually going through a meaningful quest to find love and his experience of all of the facets of love, especially heartbreak. Lyrically this album is great, but it is a victim of its time.


Enough about Kanye (a sentence often uttered) let's get to the new stuff.

Netherfriends is a band who has this indie rock feel, but they decided to make this album called 808's & Harpbreaks which has more of a hip-hop-esque feel. If you have never heard of the band Netherfriends and would like to play at home, I would highly recommend listening to the song "Bret Easton Ellis Novel". I like that song.


Okay in a little less depth I will go over the first song and just tell you what the rest of the album is, then I will go to the conclusion. I'm only doing this for the sake of time and my sanity.

On the contrast to most of the Kanye West songs with their slow and monotonous beats, "Dmt and Whiskey" is a song that does not have that type of beat. Instead this song goes into a a slow beat with the now overused form of a extremely quick beat that you now see in EVERY CURRENT HIP-HOP song. Its overused. The lyrics are as shallow as the beat, overall it just feels empty. As a saving grace though the harp is pretty cool.


Overall thoughts:

Both of these albums are products of their time, Harpbreak is this shallow piece of music with not so good lyrics and okay instrumental. Heartbreaks is an album with great lyrics but probably the most dated instrumentals and auto-tune. When I look over everything I see that Heartbreak was actually innovative and led the way into a new era, while Harpbreak just was a way to fit in with the Hip-Hop crowd and create another shallow piece of music that people will forget about probably by the end of this year, or maybe this month, maybe even this sentence. Overall I think although Heartbreaks feels bad at this time, maybe it will age well later (not now...), it does have substance after all.


Finally I acknowledge that there are albums like 808's & Dark Grapes I II or III By Main Attrakoinz and 808s & Love Make 2 By Aka Frank... But I started to listen to them and stopped about 20 seconds later. (to be honest after five songs of Kanye West it took a lot out of me and I wanted to stop I'm not a rap/hip hop guy and this really wore me out)


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