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Fucking Kanye, man. He can piss me off again and again, talking crazy bullshit about how tough it is to be rich and famous or making an absolute fool of himself at European awards ceremonies, but every time he puts out a new record he wins me back all the way. The latest is Can't Tell Me Nothing, a new mix tape that dropped on the Internet over the weekend that's already shaping up to be the hot hip-hop joint of late May and early June. I can say without reservation that you have to download it right now and spend the rest of the day listening to it at full blast, on repeat, while hanging out the windows of a vehicle and screaming.
Kanye brought out all of his friends for the Can't Tell Me party, including Common (a couple of tracks from his upcoming Finding Forever), local track-killer GLC, Talib Kweli, Sa-Ra (who people really gotta start paying more attention to), and former Puff Daddy valet and current fashion plate Fonzworth Bentley ("I don't wear sneakers / I wear slippers"). The Lil Wayne verse on "C.O.L.O.U.R.S." is, like any Lil Wayne verse, reason enough to get the whole thing. The fact that he can make a line like, "When you're really rich / then asparagus is yummy" actually work goes a long way toward justifying his self-anointed Best Rapper in the World title.
As for Kanye's own contributions, he's still keeping up his role as hip-hop's premier smart-ass, flipping Rich Boy's "Throw Some D's" into an ode to breast implants and opening his take on T-Pain's "Buy You a Drank" by declaring that "this verse has not been Russell Simmons approved." But Kanye's been working on another part of his image for a minute now: the most up-on-it hipster in the rap game. Can't Tell Me has one song (a snippet of "Stronger," which is going to be Graduation's club-slayer) built off a Daft Punk sample, another ("Us Placers," in a supergroup with Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell) off a Thom Yorke solo track, and yet another where he shouts out being on the cover of Fader while riding the beat to Peter Bjorn and John's "Young Folks." He also makes a surprisingly big deal out of local scene star Kid Sister, whose fanbase is decidedly more Brooklyn Vegan than Murder Dog. Not to mention the cover art is by Takashi Murakami, who probably half the indie rock world would give a lung to score.
I'm all for Kanye's indie rock kick, but I'm afraid he's going to take it too far with an Arcade Fire collabo or something, and the resulting blog-gasm will basically melt the Internet. Please, Kanye, watch how far you take it: I don't know how I could survive without my daily LOLcats fix. In the meantime, I'll be sitting here with the 1:23 cocktease of "Stronger" on nonstop repeat for the rest of the week.