No Trivia

Kanye West Week: “Monster” and “So Appalled”


This is the point where MBDTF gets messy. Two posse cuts back-to-back. Two songs in a row with Jay-Z guest spots. Rick Ross appears on “Monster,” disappears for “So Appalled” and returns on “Devil In A New Dress.” Pusha T raps on “So Appalled,” then, isn’t on “Devil In A New Dress,” and is back for “Runaway.” This kind of wonky sequencing wouldn’t even work on a “good rap songs” mix CD you made for a friend.

Kanye however, is a master of excess and this mid-album mess of guests doesn’t topple MBDTF over, it actually opens the album up a bit. Suddenly, there’s a plethora of voices rapping and commenting on stuff and they’re not being controlled by Kanye, as they are on “All Of The Lights,” or functioning as a simple counterpoint to Kanye’s verses, like Raekwon’s “advice rap” verse on “Gorgeous.” The production gets a little subtler and kinda slaps, and it’s well, fun! For two tracks at least, you’re in a room of people bouncing ideas off one another without Kanye guiding their every move. Kanye doesn’t own “Monster” and “So Appalled” the way he does the rest of the album and on “Monster,” he (and everybody else) completely lose out to Nicki Minaj.

Conceptually, it’s hard to justify “Monster” and “So Appalled” on MBDTF, but they’re a hoot, and due to their sequencing, function as tracks where Kanye steps out of his dark fantasy world and into the real world to rap some hard-ass, hilarious shit with his pals. But these songs are still only relatively fun and open. Both go on for too long and though that’s part of what makes them so enjoyable (you can really just zone out and listen to a flurry of words, cleverly and poorly delivered), it’s hardly necessary, and really, everybody rapping is consumed with paranoia and anger. Kanye and company are either telling you how awesome they are, or how awful everybody else is, and the beats though, vibrant and immediate, are also pretty spare and ominous. These are posse cuts on the defensive. The entire conceit of “So Appalled” is that fame, success, and the riches it brings are inherently absurd.

Maybe the only lines rapped on either of these songs that acknowledge anything outside of the world of rap are Kanye’s last three lines on “So Appalled.” Before handing it over to a particularly ire-filled Jay-Z, Kanye explains, “Niggas is goin’ through real shit man, they outta work/That’s why another goddamn dance track gotta hurt/That’s why I’d rather spit something that gotta purp.” Right there, you get something of a personal mission statement for MBDTF: Rap with a purpose, counter current trends, and acknowledge a fucked-up world beyond your own bullshit ass problems. Kanye spends the rest of the album doing just that, rapping with purpose, but “Monster” and “So Appalled,” are just Kanye and friends having fun–or as much fun as competitive rappers of varying buzz and success can have.

Written by Brandon

December 3rd, 2010 at 8:12 am

13 Responses to 'Kanye West Week: “Monster” and “So Appalled”'

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  1. I like to think Pusha’s lines “I keep the cities best I never said she was the brightest, so if you’ve had her too it don’t affect me in the slightest” are a prelude to Hell of A Life, that may just be me though.


    3 Dec 10 at 2:00 pm

  2. Seeing as how Kanye has made a point of publicizing his women troubles, thought it was interesting to note that Nicki Minaj is the first and only female rapper to appear on any of his CDs.


    3 Dec 10 at 2:00 pm

  3. Nicki herself mentioned that feeling honored to be the first female rapper to appear on a Kanye West album, and as it has been pointed out, she does steal the light on verse.


    3 Dec 10 at 2:47 pm

  4. The best thing about this indulgent idea is seeing everyone else find the places I didn’t touch on and/or telling me where I’m wrong, so yeah, good points on Minja.

    I think we could play the “well what female MC could’ve been on Kanye’s album before?” game, but it’s besides the point. Kanye loves big personalities and weird rappers and always has. This is why he’s still referring Mase and why dudes like Chi Ali are dudes he used to cite. Rick Ross might even fit in there?

    Good call on the “Hell of a Life”-ish line from Pusha. That line is of course, far less sympathetic and kind than Kanye’s, which fits with a sub-narrative of the album: Pusha is a harsh, “real” jerk and Kanye’s constantly complicating his emotions, even when it comes to porn stars.


    3 Dec 10 at 2:52 pm

  5. i’d really like someone to defend the decision to have swizz beats sing the hook on ’so appalled.’ what a fucking horrible idea.


    3 Dec 10 at 6:44 pm

  6. Honestly over the past few days, I have been thinking the exact oppisite thought of ‘hey’ as I feeel Swizz Beatz hook is the best part of “So Appalled”. It keeps up with the theme of the song, and compliments the “champange wishes and thirty white bitches…”. Also, Swizz Beatz’s uncaring voice sounds at more at home on these epic Kanye West songs than most tracks he usually appears on. (I really remix of Power with Swizz)


    3 Dec 10 at 8:05 pm

  7. On Nicki, I know it’s gotta be gender bias 101 to assume that Kanye scripted her lyrics, but… After listenign to her album that verse isn’t really present anywhere else in her oeuvre. It’s on “I Get Crazy” but thats with Wayne… It’d fit with the Kanye narrative re: women, of “making” them vis a vis his own starpower. See: Amber. But in this case its less Prince:Vanity and more Prince:Morris Day

    I’d like to hear people (who arent Nicki Stans, or conversely just want to look at her ass) talk about the possibility of this.


    4 Dec 10 at 12:31 am

  8. Ray,
    I’m not sure why you don’t think Nicki wrote her verse. I agree that monster’s pure balls to the wall rapping doesn’t fit nicely with a lot of the pop on Pink Friday, but I’d think Roman’s Revenge would be proof enough that she could write her monster verse, unless you think Em wrote that verse for her. If you listened to Playtime is Over or Beam me up Scotty I think it would help you see how Monster fits into her oeuvre.

    Personally the most difficulty I have with your scenario is the idea of Kanye writing that verse since I think it’s beyond anything I’ve ever heard Kanye ever do on a purely technical basis.

    Jon H

    4 Dec 10 at 7:33 pm

  9. Brandon, what comic is that graphic pulled from?


    4 Dec 10 at 9:42 pm

  10. Syl-
    It’s from ‘Bigfoot’ an IDW published comic drawn by Richard Corben and written by um, Rob Zombie and Steve Niles (30 days of Night). All the art for these is stolen from Corben comics.

    Re: Nicki
    I think that it’s possible someone helped Nicki with the verse and I don’t think that’s the gender bias. I think the gender bias is we’re all quicker to assume ghostwriting for a female than a male, you know? Rappers trade lines, pass them around, etc.

    Re: Swizzy
    He’s just great on this song.

  11. Jon H,
    Im not saying its impossible she wrote it. It reminds me of Wayne’s incredible rap growth between 500 Degreez and The Carter. except he sustained his new level of lyrical prowess and got better. That verse is an anomaly for her (so far). I didn’t even assume ghostwriting until Nicki said in an interview that kanye helped her


    7 Dec 10 at 4:41 pm

  12. i kinda wish kanye left “so appalled” off of the damn album, maybe subbed in “chain heavy” instead. but i know that’s a common complaint.

    Ray Cummings

    9 Dec 10 at 10:38 pm

  13. I’ve been listening to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live Anthology for the last month great stuff. I know it’s not new but I love it.Also, nice shout out to Kevin Gilbert in the book even thgouh it was for his horrific death. Do you listen to him? I’ve loved his music since he was in Toy Matinee he used to go on The Mark and Brian Show on KLOS back in the late 80 s/early 90 s and play. He and Mark Bonilla did a great version of Suite: Judy Blue Eyes that I can still hear in my head even thgouh it’s been a good 20 years. Thud is great as is The Shaming of the True .


    5 May 14 at 2:57 am

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