Far from Yeezus

Kanye West is a troubled, crazy, musical genius

Lizzie Goncharova

Lizzie Goncharova

 

In a 2008 interview, Kanye West said, “I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice.” Rapper, producer, fashion designer, and world icon are all titles used to describe Kanye Omari West. Whether you love him or hate him, the 37-year-old Chicago native has the world in the palm of his hand.

His lyrics range from serious (like in “Jesus Walks,” or “Hey Mama,”) to oddly humorous (see: “In a French ass restaurant, hurry up with my damn croissants”). It’s impossible to rebut the fact that Kanye has had incredible influence on the rap industry, and is still one of the most important rappers of the 2000s.

Before West ever got into the solo rap game, he worked as a producer. He achieved recognition and was even credited with revitalizing Jay-Z’s career after his work on the album “The Blueprint.”

Kanye’s debut album, “College Dropout,” introduced the world to his slowed-down soul music sampling and his ability to get the most out of any collaborator he featured. It won the Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2004 and shot West into the mainstream.

West started the record company G.O.O.D. Music in 2004 which helped countless rap artists start or revitalize their careers. Popular albums “Man on the Moon” (Kid Cudi), “My Name Is My Name” (Pusha T) and “Dark Sky Paradise” (Big Sean) were released on the label. West, often considered a mentor, helped Big Sean and Pusha T reach their current popularity.

Kanye’s debut album, “College Dropout,” introduced the world to his slowed-down soul music sampling and his ability to get the most out of any collaborator he featured.

“Late Registration” and “Graduation” were released in the next three years, and were very similar in style to “College Dropout.” Both “College Dropout” and “Late Registration” were hailed by Rolling Stone as two of the decade’s best records. However, when West’s mother died in 2007, things changed for him. He seemed broken, and he took on different music styles.

“808s and Heartbreak,” released in 2008, was Kanye’s most polarizing album. Fans reacted to the album with bewilderment, and critics gave the album mixed reviews. It was unlike anything he or any other rapper had ever created, and focused mainly on a virtual synthesis and an 808 drum machine set to Kanye’s auto-tune singing. Its style laid the groundwork for artists like Drake, Childish Gambino, and Kid Cudi to make music focusing on intimate subject matter and introspection.

The styles of West’s previous four albums were all present in his next album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” The album got rave reviews from most media outlets, and many magazines and websites have ranked it as one of the best albums of all time.

West’s ego was on full display in his sixth and latest album, 2013’s “Yeezus.” Songs like “I Am A God” showed the world just how Kanye saw himself: as a deity above and beyond everyone else.

Aside from his impact on the world of music, Kanye had plenty of controversy outside of that world.

One of his most notorious outbursts was at the MTV music awards in 2009, when he interrupted Taylor Swift as she accepted her award to say that Beyoncé had “one of the best music videos of all time.”

During a hurricane Katrina rally in 2005, West claimed George Bush did not care about black people. Bush wasn’t the only president that West has upset, as Barack Obama called West a “jackass” after the Taylor Swift incident. West once even stopped a concert to yell at a man in a wheelchair to “stand up.”

When West’s mother died in 2007, things changed for him. He seemed broken, and took on different music stylistically.

Then there are the actions that are just plain weird, like posing for Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone. While also known as a fashion designer, he released a $120 “hip-hop shirt” that was simply a plain white t-shirt.

Kanye married Kim Kardashian in 2009. The marriage made West even more of a target for tabloids and entertainment news. The couple named their first child, a girl, “North” as in “North West.”

Kanye’s next album, “So Help Me God,” is set for a surprise release, and is expected within the next few months. If he continues his trend in music, this will once again be met with critical acclaim. While Kanye West is no sort of role model, his contributions to the music industry are unparalleled, and will never be forgotten.