Kanye West, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

95 Billboard Rating

Fresh off his media-storm-induced hiatus that followed his now-infamous hijacking of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West crashes back onto the scene to steal the spotlight with possibly the best album of the year. The rapper's last set, 2008's "808s & Heartbreak," was a drum-machine-and-electro experiment inspired by emotional instability. But on this go-around, he pushes his sound a few steps farther past hip-hop, R&B and pop by telling a story about his hopes, faults and brash beliefs. West has expanded his sonic palate by incorporating imprecise choir-like chants ("Power"), new accents and inflections ("Dark Fantasy"), epic horns ("All of the Lights"), prog-rock samples ("Lost in the World"), sinister guitar riffs ("Gorgeous") and spoken word ("Who Will Survive in America"), among many other bolts of newfound creativity. "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" also features surprise guest appearances that range from Bon Iver to Fergie to an Elton John solo. Needless to say, West has proved once again that he is most on point in the face of adversity.