This isn’t going to be another article about the arrogant, controversial, blasphemous, and outlandish behavior of hip hop artist Kanye West. I think we’ve heard enough negative connotations about Kanye, from everyone including the president of the United States.
Instead, I’m going to drop some science about the creative musical genius known as Kanye Omari West. I guess it’s a perfect time to do so, since he has recently pissed off a whole new set of people since the release of his new single “New Slaves,” which takes jabs at the political system, racism, corporations, and his peers. And his new album title, Yeezus, which may give off the impression that he has deemed himself an idle god, has definitely not earned him any friends within the religious or secular community.
But, let’s make one thing clear. Kanye is not a reincarnated version of Jesus Christ. No, he is not comparing himself to God. And he was not given any sort of revelation that qualifies him as a prophet.
Kanye West is an artist from Chicago that makes beats, says what’s on his mind, and doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about him. That’s the Kanye that I’ve grown to respect and admire. Let’s go back to the early 2000’s when the public first got a taste of Yeezy’s fierce production skills on Jay’z 5th album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. He then played a major role in the making of the classic Jay-z LP The Blueprint. Kanye produced some of the illest tracks on the album, including the soulful hip hop anthem”Izzo (H.O.V.A.), which further established him as a hit producer. 2004 is when he eased away from his beat-making title and established himself as one of the top hip hop artists in the game.
His debut album The College Dropout was not your typical hip hop LP as its illustrated the frustrated artistic ambitions of a young black man who’s torn between going to school and pursuing his dreams of becoming a rapper. He turned “backpack rap” into a movement, thus setting a new trend for future MC’s like Drake and Big Sean. While rapping about drugs, money, the system and thug life had become a staple within hip hop, Kanye was bringing soulful hooks, positive vibes and party life back to the genre.
As a sophomore in high school when The College Dropout was released, I thought Kanye was the illest MC I”d ever heard. He struck a cord with the young school age crowd and tackled taboo subjects such as religion, becoming the first MC to publicly reference Jesus in a hip hop chorus, and denouncing the fact that ” you can rap about anything except for Jesus.” He forced Americans to take a deep look at themselves in terms of the detrimental affect capitalist society can have their self consciousness. And his passion for music was definitely felt on the soulful, Chaka Khan sampled hip hop joint “Through the Wire,” where he fervently raps about the dreadful car accident that almost killed him and his refusal to let a tragic incident stop him from accomplishing his goals.
The College Dropout received stellar reviews, went double platinum and further proved that people could handle his controversial attitude when it came to hip hop. He followed that album up with another classic, Late Registration, which also gave us insight on his philosophies in which he spoke on everything from drugs to the blood diamond trade in Sierra Leone.
I could go on and on about the creative, somewhat eccentric stylistic choices Kanye has made throughout his career, including him making an entire album in auto-tune, which was not the most rap friendly form of expression. Jay-Z even highlighted his disgust with the vocoder on the song “Death to Autotune.” But, not even hip hop’s disdain with auto-tune, a more pop-infused musical technique, could stop Kanye from releasing 808s and Heartbreak, a personal account on his experiences with love, heartache, and his disappointment with the current state of hip hop.
Kanye is continuously leaving his mark on music history and inciting his wisdom on other burgeoning artists via his record label G.O.O.D. Music. According to The Source, Kanye ranked #1 on MTV’s hottest MC lists, he’s been named at the 3rd best producer of the decade by Billboard and three of his albums were chosen as Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Not bad for a kid from the Southside of Chitown. And Kanye isn’t all talk when it comes to impacting society. While he is very vocal about the moral and political issues plaguing the country, he has also helped combat some of the problems through philanthropic efforts.
Along with his mother, he started the Kanye West Foundation to help decrease the dropout and illiteracy rates and partnered with community organizations to provide underprivileged youth access to music education. You can thank his radical background, ex-Panther father and college educated mother for creating such a forward thinking, blunt, and passionate artist.
His ability to step outside the box, which can be difficult to do in hip hop, has managed to make him both hated and loved by many. Like any true artist, he pushes the envelope with his work, refusing to give into the popular demands of society.
With Yeezus scheduled to drop on June 18, Kanye is definitely going to start some more controversy, that’s not even a question. But, he is trying to open up our minds to something different than we have heard before and its up to us whether we will accept or reject his artistic ideals.