Time Magazine has revealed that Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” are respectively its top single and album of 2008.
Below are the publication’s reasons for selecting the two artists as the year’s best.
• Singing in an Auto-Tuned monotone with little regard for melody, West sounds ghostly as he recounts his romantic failures in brutal detail. Just when “Love Lockdown” seems too brittle to sustain itself, humanity arrives in the form of an army of Japanese taiko drums. At first it sounds like pop-guns going off, but the drumming gets faster, warmer, wilder, and matched against West’s distant vocals “Love Lockdown” turns into a dance song about misery — far closer to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” than any hip-hop ancestor. It’s easily the most interesting pop experiment this year, and, if you grant its premise and stick with it, also the best.
“Tha Carter III”
• “Tha Carter III” is beyond sprawling, but its lack of discipline is also its point. It’s a pop showcase for Dwayne Carter, the very peculiar cough syrup-swilling New Orleans rapper who swears he improvises all of his rhymes. Whether he really does is anybody’s guess, but amid all the Auto-Tuned vocals and effects — no rapper enjoys hearing his own voice distorted more — are shrewd commercial choices (the No. 1 hit “Lollipop,” the Jay-Z duet “Mr. Carter”) and extended periods of verse that take rap back to its essence: talking. On “DontGetIt,” over a sample of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Wayne tells a 10-minute life story that meanders into an indictment of drug laws and an out-of-nowhere slam of Al Sharpton. The words are smart, but the delivery — just behind the beat, in a voice that sounds like Miles Davis lecturing on Robitussin — is hypnotic.