It’s been nearly seven years since the world met an arrogant, self-indulgent and controversial rapper named Kanye West. Some gasped at his flashy fashion sense, others attempted to understand the mascot motif plastered on his single and album art. The rest fell in love with his music–the aspect that is most important when mentioning the future pop culture icon.
Before he released solo material, Kanye spent his days as a hungry music producer waiting for his day to change the history of music as we all knew it. And, in 2004 he did just that. His debut, The College Dropout was the perfect formal introduction. It proved Kanye’s versatility and in-your-face self-expression. The album brilliantly centers around modern politics, social issues and personal testimonies over evolutionary production that became known as Kanye’s signature sound.
Music is not the only ground that Kanye has broken. From the moment that he stepped into the limelight, he has single-handedly challenged the stereotypes and expectations of hip-hop culture. He dismissed the typical “hard” image that was popular at the time, trading fitted caps and baggy jeans in for fitted, bright and expensive big-name designers. Adding fashion icon to his repertoire, he is responsible for bringing a sense of glamor and true fashion to the hip-hop realm.
In 2005, Kanye continued his takeover. He called on the likes of Jay-Z, Nas and Common to deliver the follow-up to his commercial and critical smash debut album. Late Registration was even more of a bold and hard-hitting commentary on the subjects Kanye tackled on his debut. “Crack Music,” “Addiction,” “Drive Slow” and of course “Gold Digger” come to mind as perfect examples of what Kanye’s stellar sophomore album entails.
Always one to go for the unexpected, Kanye experimented with his sound on his third album, Graduation, fusing traditional hip-hop with electronica, euro-pop and even dub. Once again, he was going places no other rapper dared to go. He created a colorful album with a progressive and international sound. More proof that NO ONE is driving in Mr. West’s lane.
After experiencing personal tragedies, Kanye released the morbid 808s and Heartbreak, a vulnerable, raw and truthful journal entry of the pain and tribulation Kanye experienced during this time of his life. The album’s theme of loss, depression and human emotion are reflecting in Kanye’s use of auto-tune, tribal drums and dramatic studio effects. Though some fans disliked the drastic transition in sound and style, the album is an undeniable hidden classic.
As the world anticipates the release of his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it is almost certain that Kanye will continue his reign. Judging by the leaks, Friday musical treats, promos and single art covers, Kanye evolves with every project with artistry that simply cannot be touched. Hate him or love him, his reign just gets stronger and stronger.
A toast for our favorite jerk-off…