808s & Heartbreak - Kanye West
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. It’s with his latest masterpiece, 808s & Heartbreak, that he has demonstrated, with impeccable skill, that he is supreme, yet again.
  2. He offers this glimpse of the soul beneath the swagger, and we like him better for it.
  3. Altogether as slow, sad-ass and self-involved as reported, this is a breakup album there's no reason to like except that it's brilliant.
  4. It might not turn out to be his biggest album, but 808s & Heartbreak could well be his masterpiece.
  5. 90
    In 2008 Kanye struggled through tragedy so great that it forced him to go left. And ironically, at his darkest hour, Kanye has created his greatest album to date.
  6. The project is structured much like a high-end runway show, so although most songs work on their own, they’re far more revelatory as a group.
  7. A hot mess of an album that’s simultaneously the most indulgent and most disciplined record he’s ever made.
  8. Unsurprisingly Heartbreak is a grower. At first it does sound minimalist and sparse but the album is layered with delicacy and marked with a maturity.
  9. 80
    It is his most facinating, and bewildering, record to date. [Jan 2008, p.104]
  10. 80
    The 808 features just 16 sounds, but Kanye works wonders with this limited palette, turning lo-fi kick drums into an austere artistic statement.
  11. It is the stylised, minimal music that lends the album its power, and which helps West convince as a man beset by demons and femmes fatales.
  12. Kanye being Kanye, there are occasional moments of quirky craftsmanship scattered around. The mood perks up substantially when the rhythms take centre stage.
  13. Many will hate it, but those willing to give it a chance will be impressed by the naked humanity West reveals. He’s gone way out on limb, and for that alone it deserves open ears.
  14. It might seem harsh but let's hope he doesn't find too much happiness in the meantime. Loneliness is proving quite the muse.
  15. Perhaps the biggest thing to take from 808s and Heartbreaks is the well-knit structure of the album. Every track finds it’s spot and the fact Kanye West is always on topic lyrically makes 808s and Heartbreaks a desirable, interesting listen.
  16. In the end, it seems that no matter how pained West is, as long as his one true love--himself--is intact, he will prevail in the face of adversity
  17. 808s & Heartbreak can be queasy and even morally indefensible sometimes. But that puerile sentiment also gives it its force.
  18. He has done what few hip-hop stars (and precious few pop stars) have the inclination or ability to attempt: make an album with a consistent vision, which will play convincingly five years later, when its novelty is long gone.
  19. The album is so successful because of his winning ways with both song and album construction, and with the way he captures a particular feeling through unusual, evocative, carefully crafted music that’s both simple and complex, cold and warm, mechanical and human, melodic and harsh.
  20. The album is much larger and brasher than it would first appear--the closer it hews to a mix of sad-sack indie pop and elegant, monied Patrick Bateman commercial 80s sounds, the better it works.
  21. As strange and even tedious as 808s and Heartbreak might strike some listeners, it's not just a puppet show. Or rather, it is, and all the more fascinating for that.
  22. Kanye is after a very specific sound on this release, the dead-eyed, auto-tuned vocals and canned pianos contributing to a harrowing vision of emotional shellshock. The songs bleed into one another; only 'Love Lockdown,' with its magnificent drum breakdown, really grabs you by the throat.
  23. Heartbreak is a bittersweet sleeper that hovers somewhere between an interesting failure and a secret success. It seems destined to be the weird little orphan that fans single out as a favorite.
  24. The resounding verdict is that it’s a surprising, but bold and brave progression from last year’s confused "Graduation."
  25. 70
    As for the songs themselves, putting aside tragic and Autotuned context, some work and some don’t.
  26. This noble failure of an album might easily have been a noble success if he had tweaked the Fun-o-Meter just a bit. A slight pitch correction could have done the trick.
  27. Messianic rapper Kanye West has survived grief and heartbreak to expands pop parameters on his new release.
  28. Kanye West’s fourth album 808s and Heartbreak follows the crowd rather than leads it. Where he steps, the footprints of T-Pain are readily visible. His use of auto-tune throughout the album is heavy, and in songs like Heartless and Love Lockdown its use is appealing.
  29. If this album is a mixed bag for West the producer, then it's a nadir for West the lyricist. [Jan 2009, p.114]
  30. 60
    Though the content--our hero purging his heart, a la Marvin Gaye's "Here, My Dear"--ordinarily would be the focus of discussion for a platinum rapper, the musical structure overshadows his attempts at introspection.
  31. This is a record of a plump stomach, a belch, a bit of acid reflux; the by-product of Kanye’s indulgences? More heartburn than heartbreak.
  32. Simply in musical and vocal terms, it feels too limited, mainly due to him over-thinking things.
  33. 40
    The lo-fi production makes everything sound like an unfinished demo, the songs are largely forgettable and the AutoTune’d vocals become a little tedious.
  34. For anyone sifting through a broken relationship and self-letdown, this could all be therapeutic. Otherwise, no matter its commendable fearlessness, the album is a listless, bleary trudge along West's permafrost.
  35. Fresh off a trilogy of albums likely to be remembered as some of the most innovative and endearing in the history of hip-hop, has produced 2008's biggest musical conundrum, the hurried and ill-conceived Auto-Tune experiment 808s & Heartbreak.
  36. It is by far the strangest record he's ever made: a willfully sullen and uncompromising electro-pop album from one of hip-hop's biggest stars.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 378 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 73 out of 96
  2. Negative: 20 out of 96
  1. Jun 12, 2011
    10
    Perfect album, I feel like Kanye is going on a journey, that is relatable and compassionate, I feel like I am following in his footsteps through his albums, Street lights is basic, yet the way he sings with so much emotion, it makes it meaningful and important and seem so deep. Full Review »
  2. Aug 10, 2011
    9
    Screw the haters. This album is epic. Sure, it's not "classic Kanye" but it doesn't matter. Kanye finds a way to make it flow through this synth-pop/auto-tune masterpiece. I love all of Kanye's work but this album stands out. 808s has a totally different feel to it but is still able to keep up with Kanye's existing legacy. I think that this album is the no. 1 or no. 2 Kanye album ever. The last thing that I love is that Kanye didn't try to repeat this style on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and continued to make a great album in a different style.

    FAV TRACKS: Welcome to Heartbreak (feat. Kid Cudi), Love Lockdown, RoboCop, Amazing (feat. Young Jeezy)
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 10, 2011
    9
    Kanye West stares away from his traditional underground rap vibe to make a emotional, powerful album properly titles 8o8 and heartbreak's. A very enjoyable album that is definitely worth a few listens. Full Review »