Featuring: Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco & Big Sean

“Don’t Look Down (The Phoenix Story)” is another mid-tempo rap dirge from Mr. West. Another example of West’s inability to utilize space. Though “Don’t Look Down,” amazingly, clocks in under the six-minute mark (just barely at 5:55), there’s still lots of soggy, poorly used space wasted on vocorder and synth solos which vary from early Kieth Emerson experiments with the Moog (bad) to later Emerson experiments with the Moog (tolerable-to-good). I’ll stop whining about track lengths and concentrate on things unique to this cut.
Love Mos Def doing a hook again. The wishy-washy ethnic flavor he puts in his voice is always pleasurable, his vibratto is also used very well. I’m sad that he doesn’t drop a verse though. He’s had a Phoenix-like rebirth of late and restricting him to the chorus seems like a bad call, an odd edit from West who’s been pushing the boundaries of acceptable track lengths all fall. I’ve been questioning my original review of Big Sean’s verse on “Good Friday” (which I incorrectly attributed to Kid Cudi), and I’ve realized, though it’s really smutty, it’s impeccably delivered and Sean’s take here is a bit by-the-numbers but he has a great personality in his voice and an interesting delivery. Like CyHi da Prynce, his delivery alone can sell some of the monotony he’s peddling; he’ll be fun to watch as he grows. It’s even more fun to see someone like Big Sean on the same track with Lupe Fiasco, an MC once so full of promise, who’s stalled-out both career-wise and certainly in creativity. Let’s hope Big Sean can take this heightened profile and make something of it.

Ultimately, “Don’t Look Down” is by far the least interesting thing Kanye gave us this weekend. You should be peaking at the track list for his latest album with the ridiculous, commaless mess of a title: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And even more significantly, Yeezy dropped a beautifully excessive music film, Runaway, here‘s my review of it (which has the video embedded).

Updated Rankings#:

1. “Christian Dior Denim Flow” (featuring: Pusha T, John Legend, Lloyd Banks, Kid Cudi & Ryan Leslie)
2. “Good Friday” (featuring: Common, Pusha T, Big Sean, Kid Cudi & Charlie Wilson)
3. “See Me Now” (featuring: Beyonce & Charlie Wilson)*
4. “Power”*
5. “Power (Remix)” (featuring: Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz)
6. “Runaway” (featuring: Pusha T)
7. “Monster” (featuring: Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj)
8. “Don’t Look Down (The Phoenix Story)” (featuring: Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco & Big Sean)
9. “Lord, Lord, Lord” (featuring: Mos Def, Raekwon, Swizz Beatz & Charlie Wilson)
10. “So Appalled” (featuring: Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Pusha T, RZA & Cyhi the Prynce)
11. “Take One For The Team” (featuring: Pusha T, CyHi da Prynce & Keli Hilton)
12. “Don’t Stop” – Child Rebel Soldier
13. “Devil in a New Dress”

*Released prior to the GOOD Friday series, included because of the close proximity to the beginning of series

#As I said in a previous post, I won’t include “Runaway Love (Remix)” on the rankings because it’s so bad that it’s not fair to the other even middling tracks Kanye’s released lately.

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