For the second consecutive GOOD Friday, Kanye West delivered something of an epic, with the new “So Appalled” and last week’s “Lord Lord Lord” totaling over fourteen minutes of rap music between the two, and featuring Swizz Beatz, Mos Def, Raekwon, Charlie Wilson, RZA, Jay-Z, Pusha T, and CyHi Da Prynce. For “So Appalled,” it’s as if Kanye is apologizing to those who have already heard his verse, in mixtape form, by overcompensating on the rest of the song with something for everyone: cameos from two legends, a verse from the biggest rapper alive, another small victory for a fan favorite and an appearance by an up-and-comer. At West and friends’ current level of play, it’s like a team coasting toward a championship: you can question the moves with a microscope, minute by minute, but it’s obvious you’re reaching. None of these tracks have been throwaways.
The somewhat pointless Swizz Beatz intro is over before it’s frustrating. He seems to be spending a lot of time with West in the studio and though his additions may be head-scratchers lately, he’s still coasting on the “Power” remix. To bookend Beatz’s welcome, RZA provides a spirited yelling of the final hook, but is little more than an ornament.
When it comes to the rapping, Jay-Z is again violent and angry, but falls on the bearable side of the hungry vs. grumpy line, while Pusha T is really earning his West-approved solo album by, for the third consecutive time, garnering proud, wordless head-nods from anyone who misses the Clipse. Faring better than West’s last “Introducing…” feature, Big Sean, the talented CyHi the Prince sounds at least like he belongs. West is smooth, his words floating by, while the beat, co-produced with No ID, is subtly menacing and worth getting lost in.
At this point, every Friday leak is most interesting in the context of the impending Kanye West album, still slated for release in November. Are we seeing a serialized LP, which will be entirely familiar upon its delivery? Or is Kanye cooking up something to make these songs, comparatively, sound like leftovers? Either way, we’re all waiting.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 25, 2010