• Louis Mulhern

From consistently pushing boundaries, speaking on political issues, creating new waves and being a legendary producer, I could listen to Kanye's albums over and over, and never get bored.

Kanye West. A household name to everyone in media, one of the most polarising people in history, and you either love him, or you hate him. So many people hate Kanye West because of his ego, or the fact that they hate his political views, but one thing is for sure, if you think he is a bad artist, then his 21 Grammy's may beg to differ.

I love Kanye's work, and if you're not ready for a bias article in favour of him then you may as well leave right now. His work inspires me, helps me if I'm going through a rough patch and albums like The College Dropout just make me feel positive vibes, and for that, he is my favourite artist. So much can be said about Kanye and what he has said and done over the years, but usually I believe that what he is fighting for is right. For example, even though I despise Donald Trump, I believe that Kanye is right in the fact that he is fighting for his own opinion, and everyone should be entitled to that opinion. He has also stated many times before that he does not agree with all of Trump's policies and that he loves Clinton too, but mainstream media loves to jump on that bandwagon of hating on someone, because it will get them more clicks. Furthermore, Kanye has now had multiple meetings with Donald Trump, where he raises problems that he thinks need to be addressed. I don't see Trump handing out meetings to people who openly despise him on social media, so people like Kanye are actually succeeding more in making that change. Anyways, enough on that.

Ever since the beginning of his career, Kanye has made risky decisions, in order to create music he wants to make. 'Through The Wire' was Kanye's first single, and he recorded it with his mouth wired shut, after being in a near fatal car accident, which immediately set the tone of what he was going to create. We then move on to The College Dropout, an album which showcased his more playful side when making music, and what would seem like a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop world, with songs such as 'All Falls Down' discussing how he is self conscious, something we had never seen before. And at his first Grammy's appearance, Kanye won 3.

Late Registration continued that path in the same way, with songs like 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone' sampling Diamonds Are Forever from James Bond, and others like 'Hey Mama' just being a really beautiful tribute to his mother. Kanye continued to push boundaries sonically on Graduation, with the album being much more electronic, and songs such as 'Stronger' becoming a hit which is still really prominent to this day. Then, it all changed.

After the release of Graduation, Kanye's mother passed away, which was something he always blamed himself for, and he broke up with what was his soon to be wife, Alexis Phifer. After being so hurt by everything, in 2008, Kanye released 808s & Heartbreak, an album which at the time received mixed reviews, but certainly changed to this day. Kanye himself has stated that he is living in the future, and this rings true when discussing 808s, as artists such as Travis Scott and Drake may not be around if not for this album. This is because the use of autotune, and the themes discussed in this album are nothing like what was on a hip-hop record before, and completely flipped the genre on it's head, making it one of the most revolutionary albums in rap to this day.

After 808s got the negative press, Kanye shot back with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Me and many other believe this album to be one of, if not the greatest ever in any genre, with companies such as Pitchfork giving the record a 10/10. In this album Kanye showed that he can make perfect, but carried on to say that he is here to push boundaries, not to make the perfect music he knows he can make if he wants to. There is literally no skippable tracks on this album, and is my favourite ever, by anyone. He also continues to talk about political issues in songs such as 'Gorgeous' talking about how "Jerome gets more time than Brandon" which obviously is discussing how a black man may get more time for the same crime a white person has committed. After this Kanye released Watch The Throne with Jay-Z which was another incredible album, but one which doesn't resonate with me as much when I think about Ye's music.

In 2013, after Kanye had been trying to break into the fashion industry for years, with constant rejections, he grew incredibly frustrated, and released Yeezus. Similarly with 808s, a lot of people did not like this album at first, but have grown to love it later on. This is easily Kanye's most experimental album, with it having so many different influences and being so aggressive, with songs like 'I Am A God' making people feel that bit of motivation they may need. And again, in songs such as 'New Slaves' Kanye is raising political issues, there are so many being discussed, that if you haven't heard it, listen to the song immediately. This album is borderline rock, rather than hip-hop. After Yeezus, in 2016 'The Life of Pablo' released. Unlike his previous records, in this album Kanye did not have something to say politically or emotionally. In Pablo he discusses family issues, him growing as a person, his faith and more, and is an album which really does show how Kanye has been changing as a person over the years. Songs like 'Real Friends' really stand out, where he is discussing people who pretend to be your friend, and those who are really there for you.

After Pablo, Kanye sadly suffered a mental breakdown, where he had to cancel his tour, he got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and seemed to be going through an incredibly tough time. When he came back, controversies arose with him, and as discussed previously, his support for Donald Trump. After this he produced five 7 track albums in five weeks, including two of his own, and Daytona, which is up for rap album of the year. Kanye's personal project 'Ye' discussed dark topics such as thinking about killing himself and the idea of his wife leaving, which are really discussed beautifully, with the opening track being 'I Thought About Killing You' where Kanye is talking to himself about suicide. Finally, after Ye dropped, Kanye released his joint album with Kid Cudi - 'Kids See Ghosts' and what an album it was. Continuing with the theme of Ye, Kanye and Cudi discuss mental health issues and breaking free from them, with amazing samples, a rock music kind of feel and much more being jam packed into this album. Songs such as 'Cudi Montage' are about keeping strong in the midst of everything going on around you, which really resonated with me. It was easily my album of the year, and Anthony Fantano gave it a 10/10, which is something he had only done 4 times before.

Kanye West has constantly pushed boundaries in music, at the highest level, has inspired me in so many ways and has consistently made albums, which most of which have been up for album of the year. People may say that Kanye has fell off, but to me that is definitely not true, as he continues to do amazing things, and is just getting started. I mean, just go and listen to each of the songs linked in order, and it's so clear to see how versatile he is and how many different sounds he experiments with. Love him or hate him, Kanye is a figurehead in hip-hop, and has to be considered one of the greatest.

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  • Louis Mulhern

Here is a list compiling my favourite albums of 2018, judging by the joy I had listening to them, the effect they had on me and the general quality. Also, this list is not of the best albums to come out this year, just my personal favourites.

10. TESTING - A$AP Rocky

Although this album has mixed reviews and is not high on too many lists, TESTING is one of my favourite albums this year, from one of my favourite artists. In this album Rocky shows that he is definitely willing to experiment with his music, creating much different sounds from a lot of his previous work. Tracks such as 'Fukk Sleep' show perfectly how willing he is to go against the grain, with the track showing how easily he can switch styles making the song soothing and devastating. The tracks on the album are not always performed or organised too well, but overall this album is a great experimental piece of rap.

Score: 8/10 - Favourite Songs - Fukk Sleep, Praise The Lord, Tony Tone

9. Redemption - Jay Rock

After almost passing away from a motorcycle crash, it seemed like Redemption may not have happened at all. Thankfully, Jay Rock recovered, dropping this amazing album 16 months later. The album displays his storytelling abilities, powerful deliveries and great production from Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free. The success of the album is well deserved, reaching greater audiences with more accessible and modern sounds. Before this album Jay Rock was not one of my favourite hip hop artists, but he certainly is now after this dynamic performance.

Score: 8/10 - Favourite Songs: King's Dead, Wow Freestyle, WIN

8. Black Panther Soundtrack - Kendrick Lamar/ Various Artists

To go along with a groundbreaking new movie in Black Panther, the soundtrack is just as impressive. The album has an impressive array of artists, from Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Jay Rock, Future and many more, creating this amazing African-inspired sound. Songs such as 'All The Stars' became incredibly successful hits, with songs such as 'Pray For Me' taking a much darker yet mesmerising narrative. This album shows that soundtracks that capture what their film means are definitely the way to go forward, especially when they are as impressive as this one.

Score: 8/10 - Favourite Songs: All The Stars, Pray For Me, The Ways

7. Some Rap Songs - Earl Sweatshirt

Although only 24 minutes long with most songs be less than two minutes in length, 'Some Rap Songs' is an album that pushes boundaries, creating a jaw dropping body of work. Earl is dealing with mental health issues and the death of his father, with the album reflecting some of the struggles he has recently been faced with. The lo-fi sounds in this album is what makes it so special, as it is done to an almost perfect effect, being distinctly rough around the edges. The album is a mix of avant-garde jazz and hip-hop and is something which has kept in my mind since listening to it.

Score: 8.5/10 - Favourite Songs: The Mint, The Bends, Shattered Dreams

6. Iridescence - Brockhampton

After the 'Saturation' trilogy and Ameer being kicked out of the band, Brockhampton released their latest album 'Iridescence', after recording it for over 10 days at Abbey Road Studios. The album confronts the 9 months prior to its release, emphatically making a statement on how the band has to move forward. The album is incredibly experimental, having a couple of flaws, but ultimately, creates a great representation and platform for the band to build on. It tells various different stories, most notably Kevin Abstracts emotional verse on 'WEIGHT', which grabbed my attention more than most songs do.

Score: 8.5/10 - Favourite Songs: WEIGHT, BERLIN, J'OUVERT

5. KOD - J. Cole

Following on from '4 Your Eyez Only', J. Cole released his new and improved project 'KOD', tackling themes such as addiction and drug abuse and how they have affected him personally. The narrative of this album is always kept well, with his own guidance being placed on songs such as '1985', offering advice to artists such as Lil Pump. The album proves that Cole is an important voice in this generation, with his incredible rap ability and techniques illustrating all of his points to a great effect. It is my favourite album from Cole, as I feel like the message of the album is highlighted well, with the lyrics and sounds complimenting each other well.

Score: 8.5/10 - Favourite Songs: ATM, 1985, Window Pain

4. Isolation - Kali Uchis

Wow, where to start. I had not heard any of Kali Uchis' music apart from her work with Tyler, the Creator on songs such as 'See You Again' and 'Perfect', but after reading the positive reviews this record got, I had to give it a listen, and I did not regret it at all. Her music is not what I would normally listen to, but the 15 tracks all caught my attention, with the mesmerising vocals and the inspiring instrumentals. Each song on the album sounds different from the last, showing her versatility, pulling strings in all the right places, being a joy to listen to. There was no way that I would have thought an album by her would have been been one of my favourites at the start of the year, but it more than deserves its place.

Score: 9/10 - Favourite Songs: After The Storm, Tyrant, Just A Stranger

3. ASTROWORLD - Travis Scott

After waiting for what seemed like forever for ASTROWORLD to drop, Travis Scott finally released the project, and it was well worth the wait. The production on this album is extraordinary, creating a vibrant and thrilling feel. Beats rarely stayed the same throughout a song on the album, most notably on 'SICKO MODE', which was Travis' first No.1 Billboard top 100 hit, with him and Drake going off on one of the records of the year, if not the best. The vocals on songs such as 'STOP TRYING TO BE GOD' and 'NO BYSTANDERS' are also remarkable, complimenting Travis' raps and the instrumentals perfectly. ASTROWORLD is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year, and my favourite Travis Scott project.

Score: 9/10 - Favourite Songs: SICKO MODE, CAROUSEL, STOP TRYING TO BE GOD

2. Daytona - Pusha T

Being the first album of the 7 song G.O.O.D Music album rollout back in June, Pusha-T impresses from start to finish in Daytona, creating an unforgettable album, even in it's 21 minute length. The album is near flawless from start to finish, showing incredible production from Kanye West, and some of the best Pusha raps I have ever heard. Since Pusha took down Drake with 'The Story of Adidon', Daytona became even more perfect as we got to listen to Pusha go off. Starting off with 'If You Know You Know', we are instantly dropped into the confident, extravagant raps and production this album has to offer.

Score: 9.5/10 - Favourite Songs: If You Know You Know, The Games We Play, Infared

1. Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West & Kid Cudi)

Kids See Ghosts and Daytona are undeniably the two standout albums from the G.O.O.D Music rollout, being my favourite two albums of the year, with this one only just being my favourite. Ever since 808s and Heartbreak dropped, Kid Cudi has worked with Kanye West on numerous songs from both of their discographies, with fans always wanting a collaborative project. This year we finally got it, and it did not disappoint. The song blends rock and hip-hop perfectly throughout, at times creating a vibe that sends chills down your spine. It lets Cudi and Kanye both open up about their mental health struggles creating, for me, what is a beautiful masterpiece. Song such as 'Freee' show the extravavagant rock/hip-hop blend with fantastic vocals from both artists, and songs such as 'Cudi Montage' and 'Reborn' letting us see even more into the artists mental health struggles, with a more toned down sound, which resonates with the entire audience. Ultimately, Kids See Ghosts is a beautiful album, showing the brightest and darkest corners of Cudi and Kanye's psyches.

Score: 9.7/10 - Favourite Songs: All of Them

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  • Louis Mulhern

The former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, has sadly passed away today at the age of 95. Stan had been dealing with multiple illnesses over the years, which is likely to be the cause of his death. He was a visionary in the comic book world, being it's biggest legend, and will truly be missed for everything he has done and the world he has created at Marvel.

Stan Lee at the Captain America: Civil War Premiere

Stan Lee created characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk and many more across the 20th century. Personally, his death has genuinely hit me hard as he has done so much for the comic book world and for nerdy kids of past and present, such as myself. The world he created at Marvel has given a way of escapism to a world of people, letting them live in different worlds that are protected by comic book heroes. Characters such as Spider-Man have inspired many people, as he is the nerdy kid who gets bullied in high school, who then becomes an unlikely hero, swinging through and saving New York City.

The World Stan Lee Helped Create

Stan Lee was a true creative genius who's imagination was something to be in awe of. He has inspired me in more ways that I could mention in creating these heroes who have inspired me and movies which have made me love film even more. He has inspired and motivated people all over the globe, and will definitely get the send off he truly deserves. He lived a full life full of wonder and his legacy will live on for decades, if not centuries. Stan Lee has had one of the most beautiful creative minds of all time, and even at his age of 95, it is heartbreaking to see him go. RIP Stan Lee, Excelsior!

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