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808s & Heartbreak Week: "See You In My Nightmares" featuring Lil Wayne

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This song’s mock triumphant, the synths fart instead of pulse and the regal melody’s pretty absurd; assertive and confident but really stupid too. Lil Wayne’s goofball verse is inarguably pretty terrible, but it’s also pretty funny and if you’re listening hard enough, more forthright and honest than almost anything Kanye says on the album. He’s Kanye’s ugly weirdo demon Id, croaking and joking and saying the same bullshit Kanye’s been saying, but more vulnerable and more like, putting himself out there, not concerned with how stupid he looks or sounds.

Wayne starts off with a series of exclamations and frustrations about a failed relationship that’s really sorta mature (“I really thought we meant it/But now we just repentin/And now we just resentin”) and pathetically forthright and self-destructive (“The clouds in my vision/Look how high I be gettin/And it’s all because of YOU”) and then stupidly funny about it: “You think your ish don’t stink but you are Mrs. P-U”. That’s the same kind of awkward, too hurt to make sense junk that has you comparing your girl to a Robocop.

It isn’t like super-sophisticated or anything, but there’s also some cool wordplay on this song that’s used for actual effect and not the normal, say anything if it sounds clever stuff Kanye and Wayne have been obsessed with for way too long. Numerous reviews of the album have mocked this, but Kanye uses the word “cold” to mean so many things good and bad and in-between that even as he’s clogged up by assholism and genuine emotion, he still has this fairly sophisticated sense of how everything that happens is connected or inextricably tied. Drinks being cold is good here, Kanye being a cold rapper is good, but the next song is “The Coldest Winter” and there’s those numerous references to how cold (as in emotionless) his ex could be. It’s actually less obnoxious than something like, “it’s funny those same wrongs helped me write these songs” but moving towards the same point.

Additionally, switching “fairy tale” (as in, “We were once a fairy tale”) to “this is farewell” in the next line is a good verbal illustration of the unfortunate fall from being in love to out of love. Similarly, Kanye’s two uses of the phrase “that you know”, as in, “that, you know” (now you know) and “tell everybody that you know” isn’t like verbal gymnastics or anything, but works with the whole “I once saw it like this and now the same thing’s this” that most of 808s is working around.

There’s a goofball kind of confidence in this song or maybe it’s like, moronic over-confidence (which would just be another way of saying “swagger”, no?) but again, that fits perfectly because it’s the song where Kanye’s all pissed because his girlfriend cheated on him and that outweighs anything good or bad she or he may have also done and so he has this false wave of confidence flowing through him and it comes out in a song as silly as “See You In My Nightmares”.

You could listen to this song as the flipside of a DJ Khaled song or like, a parody of the confidence and “swagger” of those songs. This is spouting all this tough guy, over it shit, but the beat’s goofy and mocking and still, towards the end, hits some weird form of transcendence where it sounds genuinely triumphant. Of course, that just sets us up for the devastation of “The Coldest Winter”.

Written by Brandon

December 17th, 2008 at 3:46 am

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