Kanye West: From being ‘The College Dropout’ to ‘Yeezus’By Joseph R. Atilano
Kanye West started off as a producer for underground artists and eventually worked his way up by collaborating with mainstream artists. Since the mid-90′s, he was also writing songs for numerous Hip-Hop artists and a few others outside the genre.
Despite all the things that have been said about Kanye West, I consider the man to be a musical genius. He isn’t only a gifted producer and a prolific rapper but he has also become the forefront of Hip-Hop for several years now. Some could go as far as saying he is the face of present day Hip-Hop already.
‘The College Dropout’
Kanye West released his first major label album entitled ‘The College Dropout’ under Roc-A-Fella Records in 2004. That was one of the best Hip-Hop albums since the turn of the century. Critics praised it. Fans loved it. And it was released when Hip-Hop was experiencing a resurgence into mainstream popular culture. So, the timing of its release couldn’t have been any more than perfect.
Hip-Hop was again becoming a dominant force when Kanye West made ‘The College Dropout’ under Roc-A-Fella Records, a record label which was co-founded by Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z.
When it comes to the music of Kanye West, I had always been impressed with his work ever since I heard for the very first time “Through the Wire” on the radio nearly 10 years ago. I just loved how he sampled Chaka Khan’s very own classic “Through the Fire” in that single. He really nailed it! Kanye West managed to not only properly carry over the tune of “Through the Fire” but he made it sound even better because of his rapping style, which is a mix of wordplay and traditional rap verses.
His immediate success shouldn’t really come as a shock to others at the time of his debut. It didn’t come as easy as others may think. Even before he got to release his long-awaited major label debut, Kanye West was nearly killed in a car crash–an accident that could very well have ended his career. Other than multiple injuries he had sustained, the most conspicuous was his broken jaw which had to be wired–hence, the title of his lead single, “Through the Wire.”
‘Yeezus’ is Kanye West’s 6th studio-release. From all the hype, publicity and buzz this album has generated even before it was released in international markets recently, you knew immediately it was going to be good, to say the least, even as it would also raise a few eyebrows along the way. Let’s be frank here. Kanye West, even with all his accolades and awards, isn’t exactly one of most beloved artists today. Why so? Because some would point to his egotistical comments, arrogant remarks towards certain artists, and his infamous scene-stealing moment at the MTV VMA involving Taylor Swift a few years back. Hence, his reputation has become tattered and he has lost some of his fans. But when an artist’s reputation is blemished by so much controversy and he often becomes a subject of ridicule in tabloids, these very controversies only help fuel the “fire” burning within an artist–like Kanye West–to do even much more to make his presence felt.
When you disregard all the negativity and controversies surrounding him, that is when you can realize that rightfully Kanye West is one of the most awarded artists to date. He has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards and there is no telling how many more he could take home with ‘Yeezus.’ When you have all the awards, who cares about the critics and naysayers? When you have the trophies to prove your worth, years from now, Kanye West wouldn’t be remembered so much for the controversies but for his achievements in the music industry.
Kanye West is perhaps one of the most polarizing artists of today. Yet, each time he releases a new album, he truly has something of value to say. He isn’t only outspoken, but he challenges the system as well. He makes people think. Likewise, he continues to evolve as an artist. More so, he believes in himself and he knows his worth. While other artists wouldn’t stray away from the formula that works for them, for Kanye West there is no formula when it comes to creating, writing, and producing his music. He will say what he wants, he will work with the people who share his vision, and he will not care if these artists are associated with Hip-Hop or not. (i.e., Daft Punk).
With more and more artists perfectly contented to stay within their comfort zones and not willing to challenge themselves, Kanye West not only continually challenges the strong opinions critics have of him but more importantly, he pushes the borders of the so-called limitations of what an artist can do or can not do. When you listen to his latest music, you can feel that he has a lot more to give and that he is after a certain goal–to be one of the greatest artists ever, period !
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