Kanye West The Man The Myth
There are many factors that can affect how you feel about your own work. It’s one thing to not like how it turned out, but Kanye West actually said during a 2013 interview with the New York Times, ” I don’t like my music…Every time I make new stuff I think, this is the best.” But there are other factors too- like what people say. During the same interview Kanye also said, “…there’s so much good music around me…You will always be compared in some way.”
Kanye West is one of the most prolific hip hop artists in history. He has an almost incomparable discography- spanning everything from rap to production. If you’re looking for thoughts of Kanye on his own work, he’s spilled some thoughts during an interview with the New York Times. When asked about his own work, he said that 808s & Heartbreak “was just taking a break from what had been happening before.”
Kanye West is a legend. One of the most iconic musicians in the world, he has not only voiced his opinion on culture, but also become an influencer in it. He’s released nine solo records, collaborated with other artists and weaved into cultural conversations with his outspoken nature and talent. The rapper never shies away from controversy or publicity and has undoubtedly secured a place at the top of American culture.
Being one of the most interesting and polarizing figures in the rap game. From his signature Yeezy Boosts to his ongoing collaborations with Louis Vuitton, Kanye is not afraid to push boundaries in order to innovate. His latest album, “Donda,” has been met with mixed reviews. Here’s our ranking of Kanye’s albums, from worst to best.
13. ‘Ye’ (2018)
Kanye West’s eighth studio album, Ye, is the shortest of his career. Despite it being only 24 minutes long, it carries a hefty weight in Kanye’s career, as well as the origin story of his Wyoming obsession. Not to mention how much weight it actually carries with those who have been on the edge of their seat waiting for its release.
Ye, Kanye West’s eighth studio album, is unlike anything you’ve heard before. It feels like he was under a lot of pressure to release the album after his infamous interview with TMZ and because of that, it sounds like Ye is more like an unfinished sketchbook drawing than a finished painting. Even though Ye has its high points, I don’t think it deserves the number one spot on the Billboard 200 Albums list.
Ye is the first album of Kanye’s to turn off and on like a light switch and manages to be both more and less than we ever expected. Ye feels entirely rushed, with West supposedly reworking the entire album plus the album features some of the sloppiest beats of Kanye’s career. There are some highlights, though. “Ghost Town” immediately enters the zone of canonical Kanye songs thanks to its dusty drums and show-stealing talents of Kid Cudi.
12. ‘Jesus Is King’ (2019)
The announcement of Kanye West’s newest album, Jesus Is King, was met with mixed reviews. Some feared it would be the worst album he has listened. We all know Ye was not his best work. This left many wondering what to expect from Kanye, who was also criticized for meeting with Donald Trump in a MAGA hat. However, when Jesus is King dropped, people got what they wanted – an uplifting album with no cursing. West did not disappoint with this one. The album will satisfy all your cravings for good music minus the swearing and likely won’t disappoint.
Musically, Jesus Is King is a solid release. Kanye’s incorporation of soulful textures into forward-thinking hip hop production has always been well-executed and this album provides the perfect opportunity for him to do just that. The album takes its title from Whole Truth’s 1976 “Can You Lose by Following God,” which the song flips. This cut feels like vintage Kanye – it’s reminiscent of his earlier work and doesn’t sound too different from what we heard on College Dropout.
Kanye West is a passionate man and he has a lot to say. But with this album, his messages about himself feel more like a distraction from a cohesive message about Jesus… a jumbled mess of sonically powerful lyrics that sometimes lack coherence. Kanye would have been better off diving deeper into the Word – but instead, this is a gospel album that focuses only on the uplifting moments in Christ’s life.
He uses his time to explore the relationship between Jesus and himself, while also looking at what it means to be a Christian artist. I appreciate that this album is all about exploring Kanye West’s journey with God, but lyrically there just isn’t enough substance. This project feels more like an autobiography than a gospel album.
In my opinion, it seems as if there is no single clear audience for this album. In one sense, the album is too religious- with references to Jesus and gospel songs- for Kanye’s secular fans, but in another sense, it is too hollow for listeners of “gospel radio”. Because of these reasons in a potential audience, I would rank this album near the bottom of Kanye’s discography, but it’s worth a listen thanks to some amazing production.
11. ‘Cruel Summer’ (2012)
Cruel Summer is the latest effort from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music Label, which has become a benchmark for quality, though this album doesn’t live up to that legacy. With its uneven track listing and barely-there production values, there are only two tracks that are truly worth your time: “Clique” ft Big Sean and Jay-Z, and “Mercy,” ft Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz and Rick Ross.
One of the lowest points on Cruel Summer isn’t actually on Cruel Summer at all, but rather on an R. Kelly album that precedes it. The opening track, “To the World,” is a joyless slog, with verses from Kanye and Pusha T. But the worst moment is the inexplicable inclusion of a spoken word verse from “Sin City” by Jadakiss–it’s just agonizingly bad.
10. ‘Kids See Ghosts’ (2018)
Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s collaborative album ‘Kids See Ghosts’ has been long-awaited. When the two artists announced their plans for a collaboration, fans couldn’t help but wonder: Would they find the same magic that had made them so popular in the late 2000s? Or would the reunion be hindered by Kanye’s frenetic and erratic pace during sessions recorded in Wyoming?
“Reborn” is a collection of songs that finds Kanye West and Kid Cudi delivering some of the best work in their careers. From “Reborn” to “Cudi Montage,” this album finds West at his most open, vulnerable and accessible as an artist. This album will feel like water in the desert for those who have been waiting for Kanye to unleash his full potential- from the introspective opening verse on “I Thought About Killing You” to the raw and honest bars about his mental health struggles on “Yikes.”
“Kids See Ghosts” sets the tone of Kanye’s new album with an amorphous tale of sex, drugs, and depression. Although it has a high-pitched synth that floats in the background throughout the track, the focal point of this song is West’s strained vocals. The lyrics are more personal than anything he’s done since Ye – but they’re still shrouded in the darkness that’s come to define his recent output.
9. ‘Donda’ (2021)
For those who don’t know, Donda’s rollout was not a glamorous one. Kanye West originally announced the project on Twitter, but he didn’t actually release the album. Instead, he played it at a promotional event in Atlanta and then moved to a different studio to work on it some more. That being said, there was still a lot of attention that went into crafting the album to appeal to fans.
His best album yet? Kanye West has come back with his strongest work to date in years. After his collaboration with Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghosts, and his recent release Ye that disappointed many fans, he’s finally released an album that leaves the listener satisfied. The production quality is much better than on past albums. His lyrics are more mature and sound less juvenile at times. He does a great job of showcasing his strengths of being a rapper. It is without a doubt that he deserves credit for making an excellent album.
One of the biggest criticisms of Kanye’s new album is that it feels bloated and overstuffed. Kanye spent two weeks hosting listening parties for this album, and many fans who attended noticed that some songs were just less memorable than others. It wasn’t until the album came out that people realized how much music there was to get through – which can be a lot for anyone with a short attention span. Some chosen tracks were laboriously long while others felt like they needed more editing.
8. ‘The Life of Pablo’ (2016)
The Life of Pablo is a gospel album that features some of the greatest gospel singers, rappers, and musicians. The eclectic sounding single from his early sessions revealed Kanye’s trap bender approach to making this album, but the first third of the album gives us an R&B sound with Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price, Chance the Rapper, and Kid Cudi singing alongside him.
The Life of Pablo by Kanye West is a mixed bag: there’s the intensity and rawness of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Ultralight Beam,” then there’s the hollow feeling that follows with songs like “Famous.” What it all comes down to is that the album is full of brilliant moments but also some misguided filler, making it feel unevenly paced.
Let’s get the bad out of the way first. ‘Pablo’ is not a masterpiece, it is not even close to being a masterpiece. But, at its best, it is a testament to teamwork and intervention; downright magical when West leaves the outbursts to Chance, Price, Desiigner, The-Dream, the Weeknd, Post Malone. Kanye dwarfs Kanye, but only sporadically successful.
7. ‘808s & Heartbreak’ (2008)
You might not believe this, but 808s & Heartbreak is one of Kanye West’s best album. It was the last release during his “college” period of his musical career, where he was heavily influenced by ’80s electro-pop and used it to create something truly unique. And although it’s not Kanye’s most influential or groundbreaking album, it certainly changed the trajectory of his career for the better.
With Kanye’s album, he has made it clear that he’s not playing around anymore. This is the guy who went from producer to rapper to entrepreneur to feminist to controversialist. He pushes boundaries with his music and his fashion choices by being outspoken about his opinions, but it feels like this time he’s just shouting nonsense. 2. Perhaps what Kanye West wanted us to do was focus on the lyrics of the album rather than the beats behind them. With a collaborative effort put together by artists Drake and Future, the themes of paranoia and broken relationships are brought up boldly in ‘Pt. 2,’…..
Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak is a mixtape of contradictions. There are moments of bitterness, anger, resolution, self-critique, regret, hope—all beneath the calming blanket of autotune. The album grapples with the sudden losses of the two most important women in Kanye’s life—his mother and his fiancé—as well as his own personal demons.
In this essay, Kanye let’s loose his opinion on the weirdness of MBDTF and how it seeped into the mainstream. And while he does not appreciate the madness that went into the album’s conception, there is a certain kind of brilliance that can’t be denied. It tells us a lot about Kanye that after praising the album as his “best” he released Yeezus which follows an identical template to 808s.
6. ‘Late Registration’ (2005)
Kanye West’s Late Registration is a classic album. It was the first Kanye album I loved- and it wasn’t until some years later that I even became interested in College Dropout. The songwriting quality really outshines on Late Registration, and these days my favorite songs from this album are Drive Slow, Celebration, Heard ‘Em Say, We Major, Touch The Sky, Diamonds from Sierra Leone.
Graduation is often ranked as Kanye West’s least favorable work. People who don’t like Graduation often describe Late Registration as the point where Kanye begins to lose his edge or creativity. But I love that album because it’s the prelude to what is now my favorite Kanye West album: College Dropout.
It’s been more than 10 years since Late Registration was released and it remains a masterpiece. Kanye West is a genius, there’s no other way to put it. The thing I love most about this album is how it never dates itself – through the use of samples from Ray Charles, Erykah Badu, and Nina Simone to name a few, the album manages to stay fresh with every listen. Plus you get Adam Levine kicking things off with “Heard ‘Em Say,” JAYZ throwing up Roc Nation on “Champion,” and Jamie Foxx taking on Ray Charles for “Gold Digger.”
“Graduation” is a crucial Kanye album in terms of Kanye’s career development. It features a number of important moments for Kanye – from his collaboration with Brandy and Lupe Fiasco to the work of composer Jon Brion, who contributes some of the most memorable beats on the album. The album balances themes of college life with maturation into adulthood, and it also represents a turning point for Kanye as an artist.
5. ‘The College Dropout’ (2004)
The College Dropout was Kanye West’s debut album which is also considered to be one of the most influential albums in hip hop. Drawing on his life experiences, The College Dropout demonstrated how far one could go if they dared to dream big. Kanye West may not be the best lyricist or even the most conventional rapper, but his legacy is undeniable. The College Dropout was a conceptual masterpiece that showed how Kanye’s ambitious ideas could defy the status quo of hip-hop.
Now that he had created a new sound for hip-hop and reached the top of the charts, Jay-Z’s goal was to bring lyrics back to rap. He believed that there should be a place for real stories and good writing in rap music. The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse is a double album with one CD of his own tracks and one full of collaborations with other rappers. It blends soul music history with contemporary pop instincts- he wanted to create a rap album that could reach people who didn’t usually listen to it.
One of the most important functions of rap is to educate through content. The Blueprint for example, was a classic hip-hop album that educated listeners on social responsibility, self empowerment and other issues. It was able to provide lessons without having to use the 9th word in the English language – “gun.”
Kanye’s first album, The College Dropout, was a monumental moment in his career and for hip-hop at large. In the early 2000s, Kanye embodied that zeitgeist of an age hungry for something radically different than what was already on offer. With this album he introduced us to the world of the college dropout: a person who rejects convention and conventionality and imagines new and better futures.
It’s hard to imagine now, but The College Dropout was one of the most ground-breaking records of all time. Hip hop had never seen anything like it before; it opened up lanes for other artists to rush into. Rappers were able to explore themes that nobody else had before, and even today it’s still pushing boundaries.
4. ‘Yeezus’ (2013)
Kanye West is so famous now that he’s become a household name. He has changed the game with his style of hip-hop, but music has evolved since his first album. Yeezus won’t go down as Kanye’s most popular album – in fact it seems to be explicitly designed to alienate all kinds of fans, some of whom have run to more traditional (read: inspired by The College Dropout) approach to hip-hop. Born Sinner was released the same week as Yeezus and it has taken inspiration from classic Kanye – perfect for those who were looking for something more familiar.
Kanye West is the epitome of everyman. He was once insecure in his place in the rap game, but now he has overcome all odds to become one of the most iconic rappers of our time. Kanye’s album Yeezus is not your typical rap record – it’s confrontational and divisive among listeners. It’s a musical journey unlike any other and an important piece of Kanye’s story.
Oddly enough, this record is one of his best even though it’s so flawed. Sure, it’s got an ugly structure and a nasty mood, but it’s also full of substance. Some people might find these lyrics corny, but I find them to be better than the stuff he wrote on his other albums! I’m sure critics are going to love this album for its uniqueness, but in real life, not many people will want to listen to this album.
3. ‘Watch the Throne’ (2011)
I had been waiting since the day Kanye stepped off of his holy water soaked stage for him to deliver on the promise he made to himself. I put my faith in him, hung on every word- and it didn’t live up. It’s only alright. In a world where we’re all too often told how great we are, I was expecting creation at its best.
I love Kanye. We all know he’s got a unique style. When I heard he was releasing a new album with Jay-Z, the only person who has come close to his level of success, I knew it was going to be something special. He had somehow managed to give his fans a great body of work.
2. ‘Graduation’ (2007)
1. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010)