Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 26 – Talking ‘bout Chi-town

Artist: Kanye West

Song: All falls down
Album: The College Dropout

I’ll say this right now, (Present day) Kanye West is a Mark Zuckerberg level asshole. But it wasn’t always so, and his musical talent cannot be denied. In recent times, his personal stock has dropped substantially even as his music has become a lightning rod for controversy (see video for ‘Monster’). It wasn’t always like this. I remember his early work with Slum Village and Dilated peoples. He was a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop scene and back then, he had a bit of an edge to him that was different. His Kanye persona hadn’t seeped too much into his music. Take a listen to three of his earliest rhymes. 

All falls down


This way

I want that Kanye back, but alas, we have the world as it is, not the world as we want it to be. In addition, songs such as ‘Diamonds’ with Jay-Z showed that his work was somewhat socially conscious. He also seemed like a nice guy, especially with the personal struggles that he had overcome. He was kinda an underdog. I don’t know where it all changed.

I remember first hearing about him when he was one of the prime producers on Jay-Z’s the blueprint album along with his work producing for such popular musicians as Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson. His production has improved over the years, but his lyrics and persona have not.
Through 5 albums and countless awards and CDs sold, his music has gotten somewhat over-produced, but certainly have gotten more popular.

My favourite album of his remains his debut album (The College Dropout). It was directly inspired by his near-fatal car accident and led to such songs as ‘Through the wire’ and ‘Jesus walks’. The songs seemed more personal and didn’t have the trademark overwrought beats that characterize his later works.
His all-autotune album ‘808s and heartbreaks’ was I think a personal and professional low for him and for hip-hop in general, though it did generate the single ‘Heartless,’ which wasn’t the worst thing in the world. His latest album has redeemed him somewhat, at least musically with ‘Monster’ being a particularly strong showing. Really, I like him, because he seems to appreciate good music, seeing as he seems to listen to the same Indie Rock bands that I do and tends to highlight obscure bands on his website. He also collaborates with such Indie Rock bands as Peter, Bjorn and John and he makes songs which are fun and easy to listen to, and sometimes, that should be enough.

Overall, despite his status as a polarizing figure, it’s clear that he’s been an influential figure in modern hip-hop and in popular culture as a whole. Unfortunately, he’ll be forever known as Kanye – the asshole who stole Taylor Swift’s thunder and spawned an Internet meme. 

Best Lyrics:
It seems we living the american dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

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