Top tunes from a stellar cast. How does Kanye keep doing it?
Sophie Bruce 2009
Goodness knows where he finds the time, but another Kanye West project drops this week. G.O.O.D Morning G.O.O.D Night is a two disc collaboration with poet / rapper / actor Malik Yusef. Split into red hued Dawn and grey tinged Dusk discs, they show how a comfortable balance between long-term friends can produce some great music.
At first they seem a strange pairing – the exuberant, in-your-face fashionista West at odds with street poet Yusef, who cites Shakespeare amongst his influences. True, it would be miraculous for all thirty tracks to be perfect, and there are a few duds, but the majority are above your average hip hop offering.
This may be the first release for G.O.O.D Records (the acronym stands for Getting Out Our Dreams) but the big names have queued up to work with the pair. Watch out for guest appearances from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Twista, Michelle Williams, Mr Hudson, Common, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson amongst others.
So what of the songs? Well West and Yusef originally intended each disc to comprise twelve, representing a 24 hour cycle. From the songs here, they lead pretty mind-blowing lives! You might have already heard first single Magic Man – a collaboration with Common and John Legend dealing with the shady subject of domestic violence.
A track featuring Destiny's Child star Michelle Williams – By Your Side – was leaked online ahead of release. But by far the most unexpected place you might have heard one of the tracks is on the official Barack Obama campaign album, No, I'm not kidding. Step forward Promised Land.
The good news for those getting a little sick of Kanye's vocoder obsession is that this double album is almost entirely free of it. Lyrical topics are eclectic and range wide, from growing up, ''I'm past my 30s now / Cars, cash, cribs seem so tiny wow / Compared to the light of the Almighty. Pow!'', through political, ''There's kids dying in Kosovo'', to the hip-hop traditional, ''Time flies in the Lear''.
Dawn highlights include old-school gospel and bongo combo Leader (The Jesus Peace), Bee Gees Tragedy-borrowing U N I Verses Mind, the aforementioned Adam Levine vehicle Promised Land and dreamy Just Like Forever, where Erika Shevon shines.
Dusk highlights are plentiful too. Jennifer Hudson channels her inner MJB on Too Knight. The combination of soft brass and Mr Hudson's lush vocals float 'Return (Here She Comes Again) sky high. Once you've overlooked the spelling on Da Slumz you realise the a capella hook is mind blowing. And even Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers gets a nod on the unexpectedly brilliant So Pop U Layer.
It's a pretty good achievement that on a 30-track double album, there are only a handful of misses. (NB: You might want to avoid Chicago and VERSE). Oh the whole, these are top tunes from a stellar cast. How does Kanye keep doing it?