Written by Andrew White
It was nearly half a dozen years ago when I first caught sound of the contemporary love ballad, "Love Lockdown". Kanye West released his first non rap album, 808's and Heartbreaks, which was the beginning of his experimental deviations. The album, which was a fusion of poignant bleakness and frigid marginal electronics, spoke to me as no other body of music could at the time. Every song on the album was a contemporary view of love and love lost.
I was at the tender age of eighteen and fresh off of a splintering breakup with a girl of the same age. He attempted to get closure after an emotional roller coaster screeching to a halt, and I was no different. I had heard “Love Lockdown” over the radio. Hip Hop DJ’s were hesitant to spin the record and it was only played at night for a while. Its booming bass, 808 drums coupled with the sharp crooning provided by West drew me in. Post breakup was where I had plunged into a deep depression. I couldn’t eat, and sleep would be dreadful. Nightmares followed. West also talks about not being able to sleep, wondering if he will ever find a love equivalent to that of his ex fiancé. Not being able to sleep due to the depression caused by grief and desiring sleep for comfort and closure in the middle of grief, set the mood for what is perhaps one of Kanye’s preeminent, and most stunning works. Not for the abuse of the 808 beat machines or the unparalleled singing, but for Kanye’s aptitude and eagerness to be emotionally defenseless, stripping the truths at a moment in his life where it possibly would never be more challenging.
I had lost my best friend, lover and confidant. I was hysterical. At that point, all I did was listen to music. It was my therapy. "Love Lockdown" was a look into myself. I was able to peer into retrospect and begin to heal. The lyrics, though simple, struck me as profound, as I was able to relate throughout. This is an album bursting with emotional susceptibility. We’ve all been at a place where you’re going through something and everyone swears to know how you feel, asking you how you are. They constantly reassure you how great of a person you are and that everything will be ok. They don’t know how you feel and your heart. They mean well but you just need to mend, and a good chunk of that curative process is sequential. Time heals all wounds.
" Hip Hop DJ’s were hesitant to spin the record and it was only played at night for a while. Its booming bass, 808 drums coupled with the sharp crooning provided by West drew me in." - Andrew White
When people contemplate 808's and Heartbreak, they tribute the “Heartbreak” portion of the title to Kanye's relationship with his then fiancé ending, which is why it has been noted as one of the best breakup albums. West had also lost his mother Donda West. West was familiar with the absence of the most important women in his universe. Through these losses, he was able to forge a theme song. "Love Lockdown" is that record, with the ability to comfort proprietors adrift of love, advising each listener to peer deeply into a mirror and reflect.