30 Best Albums of 2010

Kanye's 'Fantasy' conquered reality; the Black Keys locked into a groove; Arcade Fire burned down the suburbs

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Kanye West, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'

Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam

With My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West made music as sprawlingly messy as his life. When he wasn't feuding with Matt Lauer or bugging out on Twitter, Kanye was building hip-hop epics, songs full of the kind of grandiose gestures that only the foolish attempt and only the wildly talented pull off. The more he piled on — string sections, Elton John piano solos, vocoder freakouts, Bon Iver cameos, King Crimson and Rick James samples — the better the music got. Never has Kanye rhymed so hilariously ("Have you ever had sex with a pharaoh?/I put the pussy in a sarcophagus") or been so insightful about his relationship-torpedoing faults. From the bracing prog-rock of "Power" to the spooky grandeur of "Runaway" to the shape-shifting "Hell of a Life," he made all other music seem dimmer and duller. Is the album dark? Sure. Twisted? Of course. But above all, it's beautiful.

Rob Sheffield's Original Review
Gallery: Kanye West's Career Highs and Lows

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