Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Kid Pharaoh – Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
For around 14 weekends in 2010, between the months of August & November, you could find 13-year-old Kid Pharaoh maxing out my grandmother’s dangerously limited internet supply downloading the free weekly instalments of Kanye West’s “GOOD Fridays” series in a rumpus room in Sydney’s western suburb of Blacktown. An unlikely new array of superstars curated by Kanye himself joined forces every week on songs that sounded unlike anything that existed in his already classic discography; whether it was Justin Bieber & Wu-Tang’s Raekwon joining forces on a track or John Legend & Kid Cudi perfectly layering their vocals to create the underrated gem that is ‘Christian Dior Denim Flow’. All I knew was that I was happy to be receiving so much new music from my favourite artist, little did I know that this was all just a warm-up that lead to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy aka the greatest album of all time.
The 2009 Taylor Swift/VMA era was one that rocked all Kanye fans alike and was the catalyst to countless schoolyard arguments against any naysayer that questioned the man that blessed us with ‘Jesus Walks’. Not once did I doubt that Kanye would recover from the gruesome backlash he was facing with whatever new music he had been working on in his state of public seclusion, but not once did I anticipate that we were entering the rap renaissance era of a lifetime. This era of Kanye was nothing short of fine art, case-in-point, four groundbreaking George Condo artworks all for the one album with a 35-minute self-directed accompanying short film starring Selita Ebanks.
This album single-handedly ignited my love and curiosity for production, artworks and everything visual, and made me seek for years to achieve sounds in my production that came even close to making me feel how this album does. I became obsessed with the distorted aesthetic that was present in everything on the record, from the vocals to the soaring Mike Dean guitar solos as well as how crisp & dynamic the drums were on every song. Hearing the vocals on ‘Blame Game’ disorient your 13-year-old mind by pitch shifting and panning so rapidly from left to right in your headphones could inspire anyone to want to create something so wild and daring with no consideration for any rules that were formerly present before this album. Creating a 9-minute masterpiece that opens by playing the same E note 15 times before the beat kicks in and ending it with a distorted autotune outro accompanied by a string section for 3 whole minutes; the rules had truly been broken.
Kanye’s image in the eye of the public when ‘Runaway’ arrived was as distorted as those same vocals featured in the song’s final 3 minutes – we can hear the intention of the beautiful melody trying to cut through, but self-inflicted distortion through his unorthodox articulation will always create a separation between his true intentions and how he is perceived by the public. “Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault” as he explains on ‘Power’ may be the best way to frame the picture, but the image is completely free of distortion when that vault delivers us a treasure as valuable as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – there will never be another Kanye West.
Egyptian-Australian artist Kid Pharaoh has just revealed his mesmerising new single and accompanying video for ‘Gold In My Veins’, both of which were produced and directed by the artist himself.
With the swagger and effortless cool of Kendrick and a distinctive Western Sydney flavour, Kid Pharaoh’s latest tune is a worthy flex. Like the title suggests, this is homegrown hip-hop gold.
Watch and listen below.