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Desert Island Disc Challenge: ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’

A retreat from modern society is a choice that I am all too willing to accept.

Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to take on the age-old challenge of choosing one piece of music they would like to have with them if they were stranded on a deserted island. It’s an absurd notion, but also irresistible. See all the different approaches they took to the challenge right over here.

Living on a desert island is usually unwanted and is often a result of a tragedy such as a plane crash or boat sinking, leaving the survivor to struggle until (and if) help arrives.

This is simply not the case for me.

In this narrative, a retreat from modern society is a choice that I am all too willing to accept. A desert island with the most simplistic, two story house made of glass would be my own person castle. Inside this castle the only modern technology would be a 110-inch Ultra HDTV with Blu-ray player and a turntable with a vinyl copy of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) and Blu-ray copy of the accompanying visual Runway.

West’s fifth studio album is perfect for a permanent getaway, not only because of its cohesive sound and innovative visuals, but because it is a timeless rap/hip hop masterpiece.

The parallel between West’s seclusion and my time on my island is the main reason this album will be my forever album. West secluded himself during late 2009 in a self imposed exile on the island of Hawaii. The idea of fleeing society to create my own fantasy is truly appeasing to my soul.

In today’s society — especially if you are in your 20’s like me – there is so much control coming from every direction: Overbearing rules from the government, expectations from your parents and family, the internal desire to be a good person to others, and  even unrealistic needs from a spouse.

On the island, that control does not exist. I am the president, the king, the overall supreme being — its almost as if I am a God. As Kanye says on  “Power,” “no one man should have all this power.”

This track not only will serve me as a great song for exercise as I run across the beach — yes, my deserted paradise comes with a beautiful beach —  but it will serve as a reminder of my power as the only person residing on my fantasy island. 

I imagine myself peering out the window of my second floor with this track blasting — along with “All of The Lights” and “Gorgeous” — as I enjoy the seclusion.

Being alone on an island forever will also come with its share of unhappy moments including rainy nights, not having anyone to enjoy those home cooked, naturally grown vegetable meals or simply being alone in my old age. Luckily, this album has tracks for those times, too. When I’m sad, I’ll find enjoyment in self pity.  “Lost In The World” and “Blame Game” will offer me satisfaction. After all, who else could I blame for forcing myself to be on this lonely landmass of beauty?

On days when I prefer to be intellectually stimulated, I will tune into the 34-minute, 32-second full length film Runaway, a visual including all songs from the album. This insightful video will remind me of why I chose seclusion.

In the film, West meets a beautiful Phoenix who falls from the sky. The Phoenix watches the news and gets a glimpse of the tragedies of the world, including terror attacks and public opinion. This is homage to how emotionally draining the world is with child hunger, poverty and blatant disregard for the safety of others running rampant.

This scene makes the fantasy of knowing I will never be subjected to those views again quite beautiful; however, darkness is seen when realizing I will not experience the pure human emotion of anguish. As anger or disheartment is a natural feeling one must experience in order to understand what happiness is.  

Later in the visual, West is hosting a dinner where 20 to 30 guest are present and the beautiful Phoenix is adored for her unique beauty. But the main course is also a beautiful bird. The sight of the bird causes the Phoenix to cry in genuine sorrow. This serves as a reminder that society will love you when you are believed to be beautiful, but will eat you alive when you are no longer of use. A cognizance of that dual nature will sure help me to seek peace and excitement with my unending refuge.

During my time in solitude, I will also enjoy the beautiful, yet twisty, album artwork. George Condo’s five pieces of art, which were created specifically for the album, will be blown up and displayed throughout my glass house. The Cubist-style Portrait of Kanye and Priest will be hung in my living area while Ballerina will make her home in my dining area.

The pieces are reminiscent of early baroque era or classical art which will keep me cultured. Head With Sword and Naked Sphinx Straddling Kanye are my personal favorites, and will be hung in my bedroom. They will serve as a true message as to how twisted the outside world really is.

At the end of the line, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will not only be my musical siren, but a lifelong reminder of why I will enjoy every moment of my self-imposed seclusion. This album will encourage me to create not just a fantasy but my own reality: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Reality. /

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