(Credit: Pieter-Jannick Dijkstra)

Old School Archives

How one of the most expensive albums of all time became Kanye West's best

Making an album can often get out of hand, and the longer process goes on, the more costs spiral, leaving record labels severely out of pocket with jobs dependent on the success of their client’s forthcoming project.

Labels have been destroyed over this issue, and more often than not, the higher the costs of recording an album doesn’t equate to a high-quality level of output. While there are several classics in this list that benefitted from the unlimited funds on offer during production, there’s usually a reason why costs sky-rocket so gigantically during production. Frequently, inner turmoil inside the camp elongates the process and racks up the bills that the record label is left to pick up.

Below, we look at one of the most notorious cases in the history of music, when artists have forgotten about the possible consequences of their carefree attitude, much to the dismay of label executives, and money is treated like it’s no object. One such moment in the annals of music history was when Kanye West got ready to deliver his classic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Def Jam did everything in their power to keep Kanye West happy during the process of recording his fourth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and they knew that a happy Ye is a money-printing machine. He recorded the LP in a glass-enclosed mansion in Hawaii with two chefs on hand 24/7 to provide him with whatever he wanted. West had caused controversy at the MTV Awards, and his career was resting on the strength of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Overall, the costs spiked to over $3 million, but it proved to be money well spent by Def Jam as it gave the public a chance to fall back in love with West all over again, and it sold millions of copies worldwide.

West has only eclipsed the balance he pulled off on Late Registration on one occasion, and that’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If you doubt whether Kanye West is a genius, then you’ve probably stopped reading already, but this album is all the proof you need if you’re still not convinced on Ye.

Nowadays, it’s become all too common for West to talk the talk rather than walk the walk. Here, however, he emphatically delivers the goods. There’s an implicit biblical feel to the album, and every single track on the record is killer as West throws standard conventions to the wind. It is a pop album undoubtedly, but like all the best pop music, the chart had moved to him rather than Kanye consciously chasing commercial acclaim. 

It’s a swaggering effort that remains the benchmark for his career and is the cultivation of West’s evolving sound across his first four records, blending to create a show-stopping work of art that became Kanye’s magnum opus.