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38,840 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's so special about Kanye West? How can this man be mentioned
among, or dare I say; above the all-time greats of hip-hop? The answer
is simple, musically he has done something that no one else in the history
of the genre ever has. After watching his visually stunning,
yet extremely flawed short film Runaway on Saturday night
which featured an extensive amount of new music,
it became clear to me that Kanye West has somehow managed
to fire out of the gate with 5 straight classic, genre bending albums.
Each one is equally progressive and unique. What's most impressive
about Kanye West is that with each new release, he does not
rely on an old formula in attempt to recapture the magic he had
found in any previous hit of his. So many other rap artists of
yesterday and today have lazily made a habit of emulating the style
of 1 or 2 of their biggest hits, using their sound as a blueprint for
nearly every single from every one of their new albums. (I'm looking
at you, Eminem.) I've found that Kanye West's albums are not only
loaded with strong content front-to-back, but that each one has a
centerpiece... One earth-shattering song that can be incredibly
infectious as it tugs at the listener's heart strings. The anthemetic
feeling in the lyrics, delivery and production, along with the
relatability, and addictiveness of the following 5 songs shows why I
consider each of them to be the "heart" of their respective albums.

It was 2004, I was in high school, it was my sophomore year
and my taste in music was slowly developing. Before, I was all hip-hop,
all the time. I was starting to think that this guy everybody was
talking and writing about might actually bring something to the table
based on the first 2, or 3 songs songs I had heard from his debut. A
friend of mine burned me a copy of The College Dropout, but I still
hadn't gotten around to listening to it, partly because of how weary I
was of letting myself think that he could actually be great, as I
always am with any heavily praised new artist with a limited amount of
new material. Everything changed when I heard Jesus Walks. That was
the moment I, and probably you and your friends knew that Kanye West
was a force. The stomp of the drums, the power of the message, and the
fearlessness, and vulnerability you heard in his words were something
that I hadn't heard from many rapper's material ever. This particular
song is a mother, and that fact is undisputed among all hip-hop heads.

In early 2005, I legally purchased a copy of The College Dropout, and
I was becoming more, and more of a Kanye West fan each time I spun the
disc. I was extremely excited that he was nearly finished recording the
follow up. I figured that even if the record couldn't match his debut,
it could at least have some good new tunes with
his trademark sped-up soul sample sound that I was really starting to
like. I still didn't know how much the guy had to say and
how much I really could trust him to deliver good music.
"Diamonds From Sierra Leone" blew me the fuck away. This is
the song that made me a super fan. The evident hunger in his raps and
the innovative, dark, yet victorious sound of the beat exceeded my
extremely high expectations for the first single of his sophomore
effort. To this day, I can still listen to this song and get chills.
It was so different due to the incorporation of the sample, yet at the
same time it was so hip-hop. There was, and still is so many things to
like about this track, it still sounds brand new and gets my head bobbing
no matter where I am when I hear it. I should note that the
original is far superior to the remix, and it's position on the
track listing baffles me to this day. That being said, Late
Registration was such an amazing composition and inspired piece of
work, the pressure of topping his debut drove Kanye immensely.

I have never anticipated an album's release as much as I did with Kanye West's
third album in 2007. Kanye fever was at an all-time high for me.
He had been going through some unneccesary public scrunity
after the success of his second album, partially because
of the famous Hurricane Katrina telethon incident, that I
personally had no problem with. I found myself rooting for a comeback,
something defiant. Soundwise, I was hoping for another
Diamonds-esque anthem. What Kanye delivered was something insane...
an unheard of, perfectly executed fusion of hip-hop and electro.
The song took the world by storm and the success of it is
arguably Kanye's most victorious moment to date.
Stronger, built upon a simply perfect flip of a Daft Punk
classic has the most infectious beat I've ever heard. On top of it,
Kanye layed down a hook that simply commands the listener's adrenaline
to rise and feet to move. The first verse should be praised alone for
it's intensity and urgent delivery as well as it's lyricism. To see the song go
#1, conquering the slew of garbage, such as Soulja Boy's
god awful Crank Dat that was dominating the airwaves
at the time was really something. Stronger epitimizes the
style of the Graduation, a feel good, out this world record filled
with anthems of all different styles. My expectations were so lofty,
and somehow the album did everything I wanted it to do. Stronger will
forever be a go-to party and workout jam. It will forever be in
background of sports highlights and trailers for action movies, and video games.

In the summer of 2008, I was lucky enough to be front row at the
Sacramento stop on The Glow In The Dark Tour,
a concert event that you had to see, and feel to believe.
Me, and my closest friend, who happened to also be a big
Kanye fan had both ended 2 year long relationships
with our girlfriends that summer as well.
This left the both of us in need of some music filled
with frustration and dismay. A few months later,
as I began my second year of college I started to hear rumors
about Kanye West recording a new album. This was less
than a year after Graduation was released. That was a massive
album that boasted 5 singles, so naturally I doubted these rumors.
Kanye shocked the world by debuting a song that I, unlike many hip-hop
heads instantly loved at the 2008 VMAs. Love Lockdown is one of the
most infectious pop tunes I have ever heard, and over time I have
realized that it is considerably the most genius piece of music that
Kanye West has ever created. I too was confused about Kanye's new non-
rapping direction, but this song hit home for me on so many levels.
The centerpiece of Kanye's daring, and surprisingly successful
experiment of an album conveys human emotion along with
a blend of bass, piano and tempo changes that
match the mood of the lyrics to make for a perfect
soundtrack for one laying on their bed, with their mind numb,
staring at the wall in disbelief of things not being as good
as they feel they very possibly can be with the person they are in love with.

The incident at the 2009 VMAs left me heavily disappointed in a man
that I had praised to so many others in the past. People ended up
overreacting so terribly to what happened that, at times, I felt as if
there was a Kanye West witch-hunt going on all across the United
States. Regardless of everyone else's views on what happened, or
every other schmuck's opinionated assessments of Kanye's character, I had to
question why I was a self-proclaimed "super fan" of this person. No,
the man was not as bad as they made him out to be, he did not hurt
anybody, but an artist that I valued for heart, was an intrusive idiot
who looked so desperate for attention that he'd make a fuss about something
so meaningless at the expense of his career, and the ideals of his fans.
He was now forever the drunken asshole known more than anything
for the fact that he makes numerous unrighteous public scenes that
appear self-indulgent and childish, this I couldn't erase, and I was
embarrassed and angry that he was capable of alienating me from
genuinely liking who he was and his judgment of himself and others.
When he came back to the VMAs the next year, I didn't expect anything
heartfelt after the year long public backlash that would leave most
bitter and resentful at the world. Kanye performed a new song that
aside from having the best beat he has ever made, featured a beautifully
innovative message that somehow, ridiculously, through one song, single-
handedly restored my faith in Kanye West as a person. Runaway is so
much more than a statement song, it is the most heart-wrenchingly sad,
and admirable piece of music he's ever made. You can tell that this
song means a lot to him. It's not for everyone, but the song is fucking
golden, a spontaneous piece filled with ugly truths and a suggestion
to accept the griping flaws in others as well as in yourself, Runaway
can really connect on a personal level with anyone who finds themselves
disgusted in others, and disgusted in life, in general more than they want
to be. Anyone who is admittedly too negative, or too critical of the people
and things around them can connect with Kanye's lyrical perspective here.
This young song is timeless in my eyes, it's simply too real, too haunting.

So, I ask of you to appreciate consistent musical excellence in this
popular genre; hip-hop. There will never be another Kanye West, the
man has conquered rap and like Michael Jordan did in his NBA career
(with the Bulls that is), he will keep pushing his legacy to
unreachable heights until he is done. With every album, Kanye West
finds something to say in a new way, over some innovative,
infectious beats that he, unlike over 90% of rappers creates for
himself. You can never say that he has sounded like a shadow of his
former self musically at any point in his career. Add all of these
factors up and it's plain to see that he has done it better than
anyone before him. He's in no-man's land, and is showing no signs of
slowing down.


38,840 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Infamous703 said:

and this is written by?

Also, do you mind if I rename it "Kanye West and the Aesthetics of Rhyme" on my blog?
Credit it to D. James, which is me, I woke up at 4 am, couldn't get back to sleep, so I cooked this up to pass the time. Ha. You can title it whatever you like.

314 Posts
Wow, what a great read.  I enjoyed the whole thing.  Very well written and I was looking forward to the next album's choice as I went.  I respect all your choices, but I might argue that Heartless was the centerpiece of 808s, only due to it's blend of hip-hop and singing, and how it's been an infection in pop culture (with all the covers, remakes etc).  Also, with MBDTF, we don't really know if Runaway is going to be the centerpiece quite yet.  It's a good choice, but I wonder if LITW or AOTL could overtake it?  Again, great post!
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