Hitting the right note this holiday

That Kanye West would name his new album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” not only cements what we’ve already known about the rapper’s ego for the better part of the 21st century, but it also says a lot about his highly attuned sense of self and what his latest work means. To be sure, the album, out this week, is all of the adjectives its title promises.

Throughout its 13 songs, “Fantasy” drips with desperation in a sort of manic remorse that clashes with his unapologetic, god-like ego.

Perhaps it was his ego that led West to willingly leak a lot of his new, lush and hummable tunes from the collection in advance, but it also speaks to that self-knowledge that the songs, when compiled together in proper order, have an epic quality that makes owning the full album essential.

As the songs move through a pep rally fervor in the first portion to the spells of madness in the second, there is an arc to the sequence, where West seems to come to terms with what he thinks of himself and what other people think of him. He eventually abandons this concern and celebrates what the haters think, like in the song he debuted at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. “Let’s have a toast for the douchebags. Let’s have a toast for the a—holes. Let’s have a toast for the scumbags,” he sings in the catchy chorus of “Runaway,” which already feels like a classic.

But there are also glimpses of vulnerability, as he sings in the same song, “I don’t know how I’m gonna manage if one day you just up and leave.”

West has always excelled at contradictions like this. He is an artist and a salesman. Why else would he release his most anticipated album in time for the holidays?

Even if you don’t like Kanye West, his “Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is hard to deny as being what he says it is.

Other music necessities

» iTunes gift certificate for $150.
The music lover in the family can buy every single Beatles studio album from iTunes for that amount.

» Nicki Minaj “Pink Friday”
While releasing your debut within days of Kanye West’s latest album might seem similar to putting out a small art film on the same day “Harry Potter” opens, Minaj is actually one of the standout cameos on West’s “Dark Fantasy,” not an easy task on a collection of songs that features Jay-Z, Rihanna, Elton John and Fergie.

» Girl Talk
Maybe you only just discovered mash-up genius Girl Talk last Monday when he released “All Day” online for free. But the dude’s been at it for years — we recom­mend 2006’s “Night Ripper” and 2008’s “Feed the Animals” (www.illegalart.net).


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