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.