J/K, I still love the "new" Kanye. As you may be well aware, I am an avid die-hard Yeezy fan. I consider him one of my favorite artists, however I wasn't always keen on Kanye. I always enjoyed his music, but only recently did I become a high-level fan. If you read my last Kanye post, you have a good background of how I came to this Yeezy state of being. As a result of that post, I've had some requests to write more about Kanye fandom, specifically how to start an appreciation for him and his music (this post is dedicated to my blog baes Roxanne and Angelica in particular).
But before I start though- I just have to go on a Kayne rant for a minute about all of the media circling Kanye right now.
So far, I have kept quiet blog-wise about everything going on with Kanye's recent break-down. The reasons are simple- I want to give him the respect that I'd want if I were in his shoes. I can't even image being in that kind of spotlight and the pressure to always be great. Mix that with the fame, designing for his two clothing lines, performing almost every night, the anniversary of the death of his mom that he blames himself for, and Kim being held at gunpoint in a terrifying robbery...I mean if I were him, I'd probably have a break-down too. At the end of the day, he is still a person dealing with the in's and out's of life like the rest of us- just at a broader scale and with a lot more fame and pressure.
Was I bummed about the cancellation of his remaining Saint Pablo tour? I was devastated. My husband and I were supposed to go for our 3 year wedding anniversary next week and bought pre-sale pit tickets when the second leg of the tour was announced. I was looking forward to that concert beyond belief. Although I'm disappointed, I'm still a fan and I'd rather see Kanye get whatever rest he needs to get him back on track.
Ok, so now on to Kanye 101. When I got on the Kanye bandwagon, it happened around The Life of Pablo (TLOP). I always liked Kanye's music, but TLOP spoke to me. I listened to this album on repeat for weeks. I finally went back to his older albums and listened to them in full and what struck me the most was the evolution of his music. I think this is the key to understanding Kanye 101 and appreciating him as an artist. Below I'm laying out my personal takes on the music evolution that have led me to my Ye status today, with a curated playlist to start you in the right direction.
In my opinion, The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation are his break-out albums where he is still proving himself as an artist and overcoming obstacles. The underlying message of chasing his dreams, is quite inspiring to me, and the lyrics of his songs and tongue-in-cheek humor is borderline genius. As you move into 808's and Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, there is a more serious side. To me, these albums symbolize love troubles, life realizations, and the path of fame, which includes power. Watch the Throne (Jay-Z collab), Yeezus, and Cruel Summer are a bold reflection of heightened fame, with masculine tones and throwback beats incorporated into modern listening. I view Graduation, MBDTF and Yeezus as my favorite Kanye albums, aside from TLOP. The music composition on these albums is an incredible blend of beats, composition, and words.
Then there is TLOP. This album was released as an innovation- live, from Kanye himself at the Yeezy Season 3 presentation at Madison Square Garden. There were no CD sales or availability for TLOP anywhere but Tidal as a digital album that could be edited- and it was. Kanye added the Saint Pablo track a few months after its release, and I view it to be one of the best songs on the album. The mesh of symbolism in the name "Pablo" (Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda, and Pablo Escobar) is where Kanye is presently- an artist striving to push art, words, and product (the Yeezy lines) into the hands of the world (ex:"So the people can see my light, now it's not just rapping"-Saint Pablo). This album to me is sad in a way- reflections on stardom and the dark side that comes with it. Ye talks about his struggle with pushing forward, despite what news is circulating about him (ex: "wish I'd go ahead and (bleep) my life up, can't let them get to me"-FML; "the media said he's way out of control"- Saint Pablo) and his relationship with Kim (ex: "they don't want to see my love you"-FML); losing touch with friends as a result of fame (Real Friends track); and even talks of a cousin that blackmailed him for money. To me, these struggles mixed with the gospel vibes from Ultralight Beams, Low Lights, and religious chorus of Saint Pablo, are symbolic of Kanye's state currently, showing the dealing of the obstacles of heightened success through belief.
BITD Kanye Playlist:
While I recommend listening to the albums in order from start to finish, I know this can be a bit overwhelming. Instead, I have created a playlist with my favorite Ye songs in order of the albums. When you listen to the playlist, fully listen to all aspects of the music. Take in the beat, composition, and words all while keeping an open mind and see if you can hear the evolution too.
I hope this 101 guide has helped you see there is more to Kanye than the egotistical maniac the media loves to label him with. These thoughts are all my own and are how I have personally interpreted Kanye West as an artist.
.In Yeezus We Trust.
Blonde in the District