Kanye West’s legacy



Kanye West performing at Lollapalooza on April 3, 2011 in Chile.

Mr. West, Ye, Pablo, Yeezus, Yeezy.

Kanye West’s personal brand of storytelling and ability to hit so many topics is the reason he is separated from other hip-hop giants of his time.

Through the past 15 years of his career, Kanye impacted hip-hop in a bountiful amount of ways, and some would argue his impact is stronger than anyone else’s.  Kanye first started producing, and got his break, in 2001, with Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint.” He added soul samples to the project, which shifted back to more samples within the hip-hop industry.

During the early 2000s, hip-hop tended to follow a set of rules. Rappers like 50 Cent, André 3000, and Jay-Z all were a part of the “Blind Era” which was lyrical but also gangster.

Kanye took his own path in the hip-hop industry. Kanye’s first album, “The College Dropout,” represented a bold new counterpoint to the “Blind Era” that Timbaland had popularized in the early 2000s. It stepped away from the glitzy gangsta rap that portrayed an unrealistic lifestyle and looked towards real and relatable topics.

From talking about the disappointment he felt from his mother and the outside world for dropping out of college, to a near-fatal car crash he experienced during the recording of the album, Kanye was as real as it gets on this album. It let people in the mainstream see a side of rap music that focused on universal problems rather than material desires.

Kanye also touched on topics others didn’t dare touch. In the song “Jesus Walks,” Kanye talks about how Jesus and religion isn’t talked about in the industry. This song appeared on a series called “Songs That Shook America,” which shows how influential it was.

“The College Dropout” had five singles that achieved chart success, and earned several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th Grammy Awards.

Kanye West went on to make “Late Registration” and “Graduation,” which both won Album of the Year (2005, 2007), and won seven Grammy Awards in total.

These albums had hit songs like “Gold Digger,” “Hey Mama,” “Stronger,” “Flashing Lights,” and many more.

After these albums, Kanye created “808s & Heartbreak” in 2008. In this album, Kanye embraced a cold and electronic soundscape. The album relied heavily on the TR-808 drum machine and heavy auto-tune of Kanye’s voice. This album pushed the boundaries of what could be considered hip-hop. Even though Kanye rapped on nearly every song, people felt uncomfortable labeling the album as a hip-hop record, showing how different and unique the sound was for its time. By creating an album with such an inventive sound that pushed hip-hop to new limits, Kanye set the tone and standard for the next decade in hip-hop.

One big-name artist used Kanye’s “808’s & Heartbreak’s” formula is The Weeknd. The Weeknd said, ” ‘808s and Heartbreak’ […] got mixed reviews but is one of the most important bodies of work of my generation. Kanye needed to be on Beauty Behind The Madness, because I feel like I’m going through what he’s been going through — reinventing himself and pushing boundaries.”

Other rappers’ successes that directly relate to Kanye are Travis Scott, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Drake, and Brockhampton.

The Rolling Stone created a list of the 40 most groundbreaking albums of all-time within all of music. “808’s and Heartbreaks” was on the list with artists including The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, and Bob Dylan. This proves furthermore how innovative the album is.

Kanye West’s next album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is widely considered one of best albums of the decade. This album won four Grammy Awards, and Billboard named the album “Album of the Decade,” which beat out hit albums like Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and Frank Ocean’s “Blonde.”

This album is widely regarded as Kanye’s greatest work of art especially after he faced heavy criticism for the Taylor Swift incident at the 2009 VMAs. Kanye’s next masterpiece with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne” pulled in a total of four Grammy Awards and was nominated for Grammy Rap Album of the Year.

Next on Ye’s discography is “Yeezus.” It was the most critically acclaimed album of 2013. It managed to top 18 lists and polls, and ranked 13th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums of the 2010s.”

“The Life of Pablo” is the next album to come out. It had many hit singles like “Ultralight Beam,” “Famous,” and “Father Stretch My Hand.” When this album came out Kanye had a vision with his tour. The Saint Pablo Tour had a floating stage that moved around the audience members. Some say the tour is the best concert of all time.  His other albums “Ye, “Kids See Ghosts,” and “Jesus is King” are all critically acclaimed albums as well.

Kanye West isn’t just a rapper with 21 Grammys. He also influences around the world. Back in the early 2000s, he is the reason polo shirts and shutter shades were in style.

Kanye wasn’t the first rapper with a sneaker deal, but his shoe is the only one to make every elite sneakerhead’s must-have list. Kanye used his likeness to make his brand. Yeezy shoes are a staple in the sneaker world. Kanye grew his company to a multibillion-dollar company.

He made something cool that wasn’t perceived as cool or in style. He is the reason many trends are here today.

Kanye believes in his influence so much that he even ran for the President of the United States. Even though he didn’t win, he still had an influence on the election, earning around 60,000 votes.

Kanye West has written a defining legacy by simply being his own person. He is an artist who will be remembered and discussed for generations to come.