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808s & Heartbreak

Music review by
Jacqueline Rupp, Common Sense Media
808s & Heartbreak Music Poster Image
Mostly tame tales of woe from rapper turned singer.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Although most of the songs are about heartbreak and sorrow, West puts a positive spin on these heavy topics. With his signature optimism in tow, West sings about how to effectively deal with overly possessive women, cheating girlfriends, and plain old loneliness. "I'm exhausted, barely breathin', holdin' onto what I believe in, no matter what, you'll never take that from me."


Only a few strong images, but in context they're appropriate for the target age. "I'm a monster, I'm a killa, I'm a problem that will never be solved." "...when I grab you neck I touch your soul."


West doesn't have much luck with the ladies on this album. And because of this there is little discussion of sex or sexuality. One line from the song "Paranoid" gives pause: "I can make you come...I can make you go."


There are few references to indulging in lavish spending on this album. Although "Welcome to Heartbreak" is a cautionary tale of how money can't buy true happiness: "My friend showed me pictures of his kids, and all I could show him were pictures of my cribs."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this excellent album shows a different side of rapper Kanye West. He's switched from rapping to singing, and tackles the heavier subject matter of loss and loneliness. The lyrics are clean, with not even one expletive slipping out (a grand feat considering Young Jeezy and Lil' Wayne appear on the album).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byjsharpe October 24, 2009
this is his 1st alumb that is not bad
Adult Written byafghanremixz January 4, 2009

The best

This is the best album but in see you in my nightmares lil wanye says sh*t.
Kid, 10 years old May 23, 2010

older kids

I love his songs, but they can get annoying
Kid, 11 years old November 13, 2009

hes a jerk

kanyes a jerk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's the story?

808s & HEARTBREAK is Kanye West's fourth CD and follows in the footsteps of his coming of age "education" trilogy, which featured the most recently released hit LP Graduation in 2007. After the release of that album, West experienced several personal challenges, including the widely publicized death of his mother. 808s has been described by West as "therapeutic" and the dozen tracks on the album deal with all aspects of loneliness, heartbreak, and sorrow. But West manages to add a positive spin to his struggles. The title comes from West's incorporation of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which can be heard throughout the album.

Is it any good?

With a mix of speaking, rapping, and synthesized harmonies, West's vocals are approachable and heartfelt. He brings together elements like operatic samples, tribal drum beats, and Electronica to create a musical collage that works.

Auto-tune (pitch correction technology) is used sparingly by West and in just the right places. "RoboCop" and "Pinocchio Story" are two stand-out tracks on the album. "Streetlights" has an infectiously poetic chorus, "Things ain't always set in stone…seems like street lights glowing, happen to be just like moments passing in front of me, so I hopped in the cab and I paid my fare, see I know my destination, but I'm just not there."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how West has changed over the years. Do you think he is a better rapper or singer? On this album West experiments with various musical technologies. Do you think more artists should try new things like this? Why do you think West chose to release this album over Thanksgiving weekend? Do you think a lot of music is marketed for holiday gift buying?

Music details

  • Artist: Kanye West
  • Release date: November 24, 2008
  • Label: Roc-A-Fella
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No

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