“Hell of a Life” is the tenth track on Kanye West’s arguable magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, his fifth album released in November 2010. In it, Mr. West thinks he’s fallen in love with a porn star and raps to the listener about the various escapades and sexual shenanigans she and him would get up to.
I can remember it becoming one of my favourites straight away upon first listen. There’s a dark undertone to it that is maintained throughout despite the humorous but graphic lyrics Kanye provides, plus there are so many little things that made it so much more enjoyable for me – like the little arpeggio lick that plays after every chorus or the sudden appearance of the background vocals from “Dark Fantasy” during the final verse. It’s one of those songs where every time you listen to it again, you may always hear something new that you never paid attention to before. It took a few more listens for me to realise the chorus takes its melody from “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath; that may sound strange because it’s very obvious that it does from the get-go, but I was into the melody that much that it went right over my head.
A song with lyrics with sexual imagery and a hard-hitting beat carried by a fuzzy bass line, “Hell of a Life” probably marks the peak of Kanye’s “fantasy” before reality finally hits him in “Blame Game“.