Maybe it’s silly to pull the I Have Had a Lot Going On, Y’all Card in regard to this, but I just haven’t had the time or been in an emotional place to give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a serious, or any, listen over the past couple of weeks. But while I was traveling last week, I pulled up the video version for “Runaway,” and man, is that quite the piece of pop. I honestly think part of what had dissuaded me from picking up the album was some of the critical descriptions of the chorus. Reviewers have tended to describe it, I think, as sort of triumphal or defiant, but it struck me as a kind of incredible lament. It’s very much in keeping with Kanye’s role as the man who expanded the emotional palette of mainstream rap, who very much created the space for Kid Cudi to exist, and for Cee-Lo to blow up in the charts for the first time despite his prodigious and deserving talent. But the song also just strikes me, in the particular way I listen, as of a piece with the nakedly, almost uncomfortably emotional tradition of which Robyn is a currently leading practitioner:
It also strikes me as unsurprising that Kanye would get to this point. The first song I really associate with him is Dilated Peoples’, where Kanye essentially spends the track explicating, without shame, the ways in which he’s not so good to women:
This is the guy who recognizes the consequences of his actions, the dude who broke Robyn’s — or any other woman’s — heart. I’d really like to see them work together. Robyn seems a hell of a lot happier in real life than Kanye is, but if they could talk about the emotional roots of their music in any kind of productive way, I’d love to see what they’d come up with.