Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No More Auto-Tune

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 9:43 PM

I was going to write a review of Kanye West's 808’s and Heartbreak. But I don't want to listen to it. Simply because of that damn Auto-Tune. No more Auto-Tune. No more.

I totally appreciate that Kanye wanted to do something different by making a cold and lonely electro album. I admire him for that. I pretty much grew sick of mainstream hip-hop because no one tries to be different anymore. The blatant monkey-see-monkey-do attitude of ClearChannel radio makes me sad, sometimes disgusted. So I admire Kanye’s concept on 808. Then he goes and uses the Auto-Tune on every single song? Of his “different” album? When every song on rap radio today also uses Auto-Tune?

For those who don’t know, the Auto-Tune is…it’s that damned effect you hear on the vocals of every single rap song on ClearChannel radio! You don’t need me to explain. Every single song, man.

OK, I’ll explain. You’re not supposed to hear the effect. It’s a piece of studio gear meant to smooth the rough edges off of Britney Spear’s vocals, and trick you into thinking she’s better than she is. But Lil Wayne and T. Pain and the rest turn the Auto-Tune all the way up so it highlights every mistake in their voice by correcting it. Weee, I sound like a robot alien! Yeah, well, by now, so does he. And him too. And him. And her. In 2008, the Auto-Tune is the last thing you'd turn to, hoping to achieve individuality.

Why couldn’t simply putting effects on your voice become a hip-hop trend? I would love to hear echoing raps, phased out vocals, distorted vocals – any of the millions and millions of effects one could use. That trend would really liven up hip-hop’s sonic pallet. But they all use the Auto-Tune? Even Kanye.

I ask you Kanye, WHY? Why, when trying to make an “outside the box” musical statement, use the newest and already most played-out gimmick in mainstream rap? Why go and pee on the only interesting mainstream record made this year, drench it in an effect that even the bandwagon had used up last year!? It’s the same as if, in the early 90’s, Motley Crue had tried to make a drum-n-bass album.

So, I heard the singles from 808s and Heartbreak and those were enough for me. The lyrics were terrible too (rhyming dictionary style: cry, fly, by, try, sky, blech). Again, I haven’t heard the album, but in doing something different (different relative to his own particular world, I suppose; I'd heard plenty of electro before this year) Kanye seems to have taken a big step backwards, creativity-wise.

Will you burn me a copy so I can make sure? Maybe I can put it in my computer and strip the Auto-Tune off the vocals...

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