kanyewestWith the release of Yeezus rapidly approaching, Kanye West’s legacy has planted two firm feet in the realm of greatness. With superior production skills, lyrical ingenuity, and a string of controversial actions, Kanye West just may be the biggest Hip Hop superstar our generation will ever see.


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As fans worldwide anticipate the release of Kanye West’s 6th solo album, Yeezus, West’s triumphant legacy is thriving. With enough confidence to compare himself to Jesus Christ, it’s possible that the sometimes crazy, yet certified genius may be on the path towards musical divinity. Kanye West’s jack of all trade reputation has given him a platform to discard mainstream ideology, replacing it with a sometimes controversial school of thought. Never willing to shy away from his opinion, West has drawn criticism for his sometimes ignorant statements. However, in the same breath, he is respected for his firm opinions and out of box intelligence.

Born Kanye Omari West in Atlanta, Georgia, Kanye was proudly raised in the city of Chicago, IL. As a young child, Kanye was reared by a parents in the field of photojournalism and English education. Looking back, this may explain Kanye’s early poetic attempts and interest in all kinds of visual arts. These interests eventually paved the way for experimentation with rhyming and harmonizing beats via keyboards. Little did the young Kanye West know that he would go on to be a celebrated producer and rap artist. His first breakthrough came in 1998 when Jermaine Dupri tapped one of Kanye’s beats to be featured on his album “Life in 1472”. Enthusiasm and momentum gripped West and he went on to drop out of Columbia College to pursue a career in music.

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It’s sometimes said that your gut feeling is the way, and if we look at Kanye West as an example of this thought, it is certainly true. Soon after dropping out of College, West was chosen by Jay Z to produce several songs on the blockbuster album “The Blueprint”. By adding billboard topping songs such as “Takeover”, “Izzo (HOVA)”, and “Never Change”  under his belt, West soon became a highly sought after producer in the Hip Hop world. Enthralled by this victory, West unsuccessfully tried to step into the limelight as a performer but many doors remain closed. Eventually, after creating a quality demo, Jay-Z signed Kanye West to the Roc-A-Fella Record label.

Although success and fame are highly sought desired by most, they cannot protect you from life’s tragedies. On October 23rd 2002, Kanye was involved in a head on collision, breaking his jaw and bringing him to the edge of death. Drawing upon his near death experience and the fact his mouth was temporarily wired shut, West rapped the highly acclaimed single “Through the Wire” which was part of his first album “The College Dropout”. The album was released on Februrary 10th 2004 and sold an outstanding 440 thousand copies in its first week and would go on to become double platinum.

Looking back at Kanye’s endeavors, controversial topics such as race, drugs, and religion have always been laced within his music. What sets Kanye apart from other artists who draw upon these topics for controversy is that the messages he is portraying are coming from his heart. Whenever anyone talks, raps or writes from their inner core, it rings a tune different than one who isn’t truly invested in the idea. Part of the reason Kanye West’s lyrics are so interesting is because they are the closest thing we have to modern philosophy. In an age where books and written ideas are sub-par to digital music, Kanye West is one of a few Hip Hop stars who use their platform to sway their audience towards their ideas. Kanye West is a celebrated artist because his rhymes speak, and more importantly, they adjust to the musical landscape.

Since his rise to fame, Kanye West has explored multiple outlets to convey his inner thinkings. Aside from music making and production, Kanye is also known as a fashion designer (Nike, Louis Vuitton, Giuseppe Zanotti), philanthropist (Kanye West Foundation, The Dr. Donda West Foundation, Chairy/Fundraiser/Benefit Concerts), and CEO (GOOD Music).  He has also been in high profile relationships with some of the hottest women in Hollywood including Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian. West and Kardashian, who are currently dating are expecting their first child as well.

His career has had two defining moments. The first and undoubtedly most important is the passing of his beloved mother Donda West. The tragic blow took its toll on Kanye and he channeled many of these emotions into his arguably best album, 808s & Heartbreak. West was quoted as saying “”It was like losing an arm and a leg and trying to walk through that” in regards to losing his mother.  Second was his action at MTV Music Awards when Kanye ripped a mic away from Taylor Swift, who was accepting her award for Best Female Music Video and told the crowd Swift did not deserve the award, Beyonce did. The action resulted in a ejection from the show, a whiplash from the Hollywood community and even the President condemned Kanye’s action, calling him a “jackass”. West would only redeem himself after releasing “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” which once again put him on top of the music game and arguably changed the Hip Hop game even to this day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQljfla-rpY

Although plagued by several controversial actions and statements throughout his career, Kanye has always managed to stay afloat of the media firestorms. He has even fired back at mainstream media outlets throughout his career, going so far to claim they employ entertainers as “New Slaves”. His racially fueled statements have also drawn criticism and have at times alienated him from public approval. His music though, like a fine wine, has only improved with time. Over the course of his career, Kanye has picked up 21 Grammys, making him one of the most awarded artists to ever live. He has been featured on the cover of TIME magazine, ranked #1 on MTV’s hottest MC lists, been named at the 3rd best producer of the decade by Billboard and 3 of his albums found their way onto The Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Kanye West will inevitably go down as one of the most musically capable artists of our time. West can be credited as carrying Hip Hop to new heights by expanding the genre and its musical reach. While some argue that Kanye has been able to adapt to the evolutionary sounds of Hip Hop, we at The Source believe that Kanye has not just adapted to new sounds, but been their founder and creator. So whether it’s the deliverance of mind blowing bars, a new age beat or some kind of crazy comment, we look forward to being a part of a Hip Hop era defined by the abilities of Kanye West.

 

~ Salvatore DiBenedetto (@SaysSal)

1 Comment

  • Ashley Jenkins says:

    This article amazed me. With so much new info on my favorite hip hop star I was able to appreciate his work that much more! Great read from both the source and sal!