“Robocop” is one of the more unorthodox songs in Kanye West’s catalog. Its sonic layers are dense: lush string parts interpolated from Patrick Doyle’s “Kissing in the Rain,” which appears on the soundtrack to the 1998 film “Great Expectations” and a bottom-heavy beat that wouldn’t be out of place in Miami bass circa 1993— just to name two.

There are other eccentric production flourishes reminiscent of some of the less traditional rap and R&B artists and groups through the last 20 years: Prince, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Dan the Automator and so on.

“Robocop“‘s lyrics are a completely different matter. They’re fairly standard rap patter: a kiss off to a current or former girlfriend that is/was too clingy. Kanye calls the girl spoiled repeatedly in the outro of the song. She’s on him so often that she’s similar to RoboCop (or a RoboCop), the title character of the 1987 film of the same name.

There is speculation— more than speculation, in fact— that this song is about his infamous break up with his long-time, on-and-off girlfriend/fiancee Alexis Phifer, a fashion model and clothing line designer. Before this song was released to the general public, August 2008, Phifer said she and Kanye were “friends” in April of that same year. “Robocop” is the seventh track off of “808s and Heartbreak,” mostly dwelling on his mother, Donda West’s, death and his subsequent engagement and then break up with Phifer.

With those two losses seemingly on his mind, Kanye West made “808s,” a record significantly more dark and bleak than his previous ones. “RoboCop” stands as a contrast to this mood, however. It’s a momentarily funky respite of humor, playfulness and swagger in an otherwise maudlin work.

Edited by Tweedsmatic on 10 Feb 2011, 12:33

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