Why Kanye West is One of the Best Musical Artists of the Modern Era


Image from 2loudmag.com

Image from 2loudmag.com

There are some people who will have read this article title and completely disregard everything I am about to say. To those people, I can’t say anything except that they are too narrow-minded to see through the overdone and absurd tabloids that surround Mr. West. If they are too biased to hear and witness the art that he has to offer, that is their fault, not mine.

It seems to be a trend now that it is fun to mock Kanye for everything he does, and, even as a big Mr. West fan, I can see why it is appealing. When he makes songs with titles like “I Am a God” and features God Himself on the track listing, it is easy to call him narcissistic and self-centered. The fact that he is also married to Kim Kardashian, one of the most polarizing celebrities in today’s age, does not help his cause well either. I personally do not mind that he makes self-absorbed songs or that he is married to a woman that people consider a tramp, to say the least. Nevertheless, for those who do feel offended about Kanye’s personal life and opinions, let’s take a step back though and look past the catchy headlines about the rapper that only encourages people to hate him more and more. Instead, let’s look at what makes Kanye the greatest artist in music today, namely his music, his image, his style, and his inspiration for millions across America.

Kanye’s career always seemed to be an uphill struggle for him. A middle-class child in Chicago, he saw the struggles that many inner-city blacks faced in the city and always seemed to fight to have a better life than them, one that would be able to support and take care of his mother, Ms. Donda West. By college, he realized that he wanted to be a part of the hip-hop scene, and dropped out of college in order to spend more time producing beats for various local artists in Chicago. By the end of the millennium, he had a few production credits under his belt, notably a track from Foxy Brown’s Chyna Doll and a couple from Harlem World’s only album The Movement. So it is no wonder why Jay Z eventually recruited Ye’ as a Roc-A-Fella producer, and that’s where the legend really begins.

From the beginning of his time with the record label, he was an extraordinary artist. Almost single-handedly, he revitalized rap legend Jay Z’s career with arguably his best album of all time, The Blueprint, and created songs for legends like Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, and Ludacris (later on, he would revitalize Common’s career as well with his production on Be) Eventually, Kanye realized that he wanted to be a rapper, but many, including Jay Z, thought that he had no potential as a lyricist. So what did he do? Bother Roc-A-Fella Records enough to give him a chance with his own album, eventually creating the modern classic, The College Dropout. Featuring grade-A Kanye West soul-sampling production, amazing lyrics, and hilarious skits, this modern classic managed to open the doors for Ye’s solo career, and showed him to be one of hip-hop’s most unique mainstream artists of all time with other albums like Late Registration, 808’s and Heartbreak, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, changing the landscape of 21st century hip-hop over and over again with each release.

I do not exaggerate when I say that these albums, and a couple of others, actually changed hip-hop and popular music in general. When Mr. West’s debut album dropped in 2003, gangster rappers like 50 Cent, DMX and The Game were the mainstream hip-hop acts at the time, but after West’s first two albums, the tide started to shift instead towards more indie and alternative artist such as Lupe Fiasco, Drake, Kid Cudi, and Vince Staples (three of whom have music careers largely due to Kanye’s personal support). Not to mention that after 808’s and Heartbreak, Ye’s first attempt at auto-tune, dozens of other popular artists began using the voice modifier as part of their own repertoire, which is ironic since West’s album received mostly mixed reviews initially. If anything, Kanye West is a trendsetter, and his way of working will allow him to succeed in anything he sets his mind to, including his new, recent involvement in the fashion industry.

Speaking about mixed feelings, Kanye West has been accused of insulting other artists and being too outspoken. Many perceive this as a simple grab for attention, but I see it as something being authentic. Who else has the gall or the nerve to actually say that Taylor Swift’s or Beck’s albums did not deserve to win over Beyoncé’s own work?  I personally enjoy Taylor Swift and Beck a bit more musically than Beyoncé and disagree with Mr. West’ opinion, but I do give credit to Kanye for being honest and courageous enough to call something out if he feels like it is an injustice. Whenever he interrupts or says his judgment on a topic, he is not expecting others to follow suit or change to fit his belief;  he is simply trying to state what he thinks is wrong with the world as he sees it, and I do not condemn him for that. Maybe he could phrase his words in a better way, but his intentions are there.

His image also extends beyond his marriage to Kim Kardashian, his obsession with interrupting others at award ceremonies, and his outspokenness towards certain political figures that he doesn’t like (I’m looking at you Bush); he is also an avid donator and charity organizer as head of the Donda West Foundation, an organization established to help inner-city youths across the United States. Additionally, he has also donated and worked with Oxfam, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Robin Hood Foundation just to name a few. For someone who the media loves to portray as shallow and self-centered, his actions definitely prove otherwise.

Taking all aspects of Kanye into account, he is one of the largest inspirations for millions of youths across America. His life and his undying confidence in all that he does, whether it is music, fashion, or family life, inspires many young black youths, including myself, to have more faith in themselves and their work. He is a dreamer in the truest sense, leading his life how he wants and motivating thousands of others along the way. Again, I reiterate: Kanye is one of the most original, inspiring, real and multi-talented artists of the entire age, no matter what you think of his personal life and beliefs.

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