There is no question that Kanye West is one of the greatest musicians of our time. His musicality is unparalleled and he has taken the art form of sampling to a new level. He's a monolith, an icon, and If you say Kanye isn't one of the greatest you're a liar.
With that being said...I must say I miss the old Kanye. I'll take Kanye West over Kanye Kardashian any day as I find his recent work null and void of the very thing we know and love him for, soul. The Life of Pablo was cute but no cigar. Every time I start to get into it I'm distracted by his lackluster lyrics or allusions to his "member", and it should be a crime the way he ruined Farther Stretch My Hands with the mention of bleached ass holes. It lacks replay value, a cohesive sound, and ultimately sounds like all the really good throw away tracks from every Kanye project ever.
Reflecting on TLOP, and how blah it felt got me thinking about Kanye's greatest moments. I thought long and hard about this and came up with my list of Kanye's most defining albums: his highest evolution lyrically, sonically, and artistically.
Don't be offended this is all my opinion.
The College Dropout- Kanye the Lyricist
The College Dropout was Kanye's introduction to the world and arguably one of the most important albums in hip-hop history. Though he went on to create many bodies of excellent work ain't nothing like the first time. He let you know out the gate you were in for a ride, "If this is your first time hearing this, you are about to experience something so cold..." He was rapping like he wanted it, rapping like he was in cyphers with Talib and Mos, rapping like he was locked in a room doing five beats a day for three summers. The content was relatable, the features were fire (except that Common verse, we ain't forget!) and the skits were hilarious. It is the blueprint for the Kanye sound and his most soulful work to date.
"I blow past low class niggas with no cash, In the fo dot six bitch you can go ask. So when I go fast popo just laugh, right until I run of gas until I go crash"
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye The Artist
This album is my favorite Kanye moment ever. This project was HIGHLY inspired and you can feel it. The art direction is heavy and the sounds are heavier. You feel like you're transported to another reality when this is on and it takes you on a ride filled with ups, downs, and the ultimate ascension with Lost In The World. He utilized talent in ways we hadn't seen like the choir voices on Dark Fantasy and Selita Banks as a mute bird. I'm convinced Rick Ross wrote his verse for Devil In a New Dress with a feather dipped in gold, and that guitar solo still brings me to my knees. What makes MBDTF Kanye's greatest moment artistically is the supreme vision behind it all. He made a film set to his album that was beautiful, engrossing, and thought-provoking. Despite his terrible acting skills he made #YeezyTaughtMe a worldwide phenomenon, he gave Nicki the verse of her life, and like it or not he immortalized Amber Rose forevah!
Yeezus- Kanye The Producer
This album was hard for me to like and an even harder to admit I liked. Undoubtedly it was the end of Kanye West and the beginning of Kanye Kardashian, but this is Kanye's best work sonically. He did things with sounds I never thought possible. My soul almost jumped out of my body when I heard I'm In It, and tears came to me eyes when Blood On The Leaves followed directly after. He flexed all over this project and left no doubt that he is indeed a master musician. Yeezus sounds like a Broadway play in music form. The sounds are massive and energizing. Like TLOP it lacks replay value, but more so because the experience of listening to this album is exhausting. This is not a rapper's album this is a musician's album and Black Skinhead will go down in the history books as stadium music.
So there you have it, my most honest opinion on Kanye's greatest moments as an artist, lyricist, and musician. Despite my feels on his personal choices, I gotta give credit where credit is due. His wit, grandiose, talent and skill combine to create a true artist. He's still the motherfucka I love to hate, but can't because I love what he makes...now ain't that about a bitch.
Still miss the old Kanye though.