TEAMDAR Discography Check: Kanye West

Controversial. Out-spoken. Contradictory. Hypocritical. A musical genius. Overrated. All these terms could equally define Kanye West and his actions, but beyond the actions, we have the music. The music that stands as the focal point of why we even care about him. Today, we'll check the discography and catalog of Kanye and rank these albums. Let's get started... 

The first album. The debut. Where it all began. The College Dropout was a transitional album in hip hop history, as 50 Cent was going through his moment of winning and gangsta rap was back on the forefront. Kanye came with an album that wasn't in that regard, but still viable. College Dropout hit hard with the first single "Through The Wire" which was recorded after Kanye got in his car accident and had his jaw wired shut. That was admirable and brave for sure, and the rest of the album sets the tone for something different. As the sounds of "All Falls Down" grace your ears, you start to get a sense of the revolution that Kanye attempted to bring with this album. With "Spaceship", "Never Let Me Down", "Jesus Walks", "Two Words", "Get Em High", "Family Business", and "Last Call" all being standout tracks, it's safe to say that this has a place as one of the all time best hip hop debut albums. Almost completely flawless, outside of a few unnecessary skits, and the two weakest tracks on the album, "Breathe In Breathe Out" and "School Spirit", this is essentially an almost perfect album. It definitely is a classic. And to think, it was released just 10 years ago, and now here we are looking at the discography of Kanye. The album more than served its purpose, I'd say. This is my personal 2nd favorite Kanye album. What's my favorite?

This album is my all time favorite Kanye album. The execution, the production, the creativity, the mood, the overall feel to this album was just flawless to me. From the opening chords of "Heard Em Say" to the last hidden song, "Late", I felt there was nothing wrong with this album. My only issue would of course be the skits that came frequent, and despite being seen as necessary to the narrative of the album, it added nothing for me. This was the album where I sat back and thought to myself "damn, Kanye is a genius"(it's a lot of us Gemini geniuses out here.... what up though), and he went above and beyond. This album felt like natural progression. Growth as a producer and an artist. From "Roses" to "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" to "Crack Music" to "Addiction", Kanye was touching on some great topics and subject matter, which elevates this album in my eyes as well. Lyrically, on a grand scale, I'd say this album isn't as strong as College Dropout, but Kanye's verses were consistent enough and thought-provoking. This is without a doubt a classic, and the closest that Kanye has ever got to flawless with his albums. There is not ONE bad song on this album or even a weak track IMO. Absolute greatness. Question is, where would Kanye go from here?

Graduation. After Late Registration, it's not surprising that the next album title would be Graduation as that's the next natural step. Musically, this album almost fits into the theme as well, being shorter, and not as strong as the first two efforts, but just passing by. The beauty of this statement is that Kanye's first two albums were seen from a hungry standpoint, where you want to win in the real world while following your dreams(College Dropout), and then you decide to juggle both the school world and the real world and your outlook(Late Registration). He captured something special with the first two, and once we arrived at album three, you'd expect that Kanye would have something greater for us, no? Well, "Good Morning", "Champion", "I Wonder", "Good Life", "Can't Tell Me Nothing", "Flashing Lights", "Everything I Am" and "The Glory" are all dope tracks, and that's basically over half of the album. There's a few bad songs or just misplaced songs on here like "Drunk and Hot Girls", "Homecomiing"(not a bad song, but pales in comparison to the soulful original that featured John Legend on the hook), "Big Brother"(the song dedicated to Jay-Z who didn't even want Kanye as an artist on Roc-A-Fella previously), and the huge single "Stronger"(I was not a fan of it). However, the genius behind this album is that Kanye displays the mindset almost of someone who won, someone who graduated, and is ready to enjoy the spoils of getting that victory, which explains why the album could be shorter, there are no skits, and the content is limited. The graduate has won, he's succeeded, he doesn't have to put in the work he did to get through previously. Now that he's made it, he can work and coast by in life and still do well. This album is a direct reflection of this. Now, the question would be, after you've succeeded and won(Graduation did 1 million copies first week), where do you go next? Only can keep going up and succeeding right???......

Still succeeding? Not so much. But, in the form of the narrative of Kanye's discography, this fits perfectly. Kanye, lost his mother shortly after Graduation came out, lost his relationship, and was basically at a standstill personally, it would seem. After you've worked your ass off(first two albums), succeeded and won(third album), there has to be a fall, right? In more than one way, this was Kanye's fall. The album as a narrative was good, as it was a story of someone dealing with their demons and trying to overcome or succumb to them. However, the music just wasn't good to me. I enjoyed "Say You Will", "Amazing"(somewhat), and "Heartless", but this album was an expression from Kanye that didn't connect. Moody beats(which was the point, I get that, but it wasn't good to me), simple lyrics(also the point I figure), with auto tuned singing and a lack of rap verses. It just didn't flow together for me, and while some love this album, to me it's one of Kanye's worst, and one of the minor blips on an otherwise solid catalog. So, after the heartbreak, what's next? Are you left to draw inspiration out of your mind, your imagination???

And this is where Kanye decided to go next. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which from the title would sound like something that's going to change music or be ground-breaking, right? Well, no. The album is not bad by any stretch and has some great music on it, but it's not a classic(I cannot see how people call it that, the album is not flawless, and has a few underwhelming tracks on it). The stand out tracks for me are "Blame Game", "Devil in A New Dress", "So Appalled", "Dark Fantasy" and "Runaway". The rest of the tracks are either weak to okay, but I really didn't feel this album as much as the public claimed. It's better than 808s for sure, and on par with Graduation, but it still does not restore the feeling or improve on the feeling that Kanye's first two albums brought about. Now, moving on, Kanye had a few projects like Watch The Throne and Cruel Summer, but I won't count those in this discography, but will touch on WTT for a moment before moving on. WTT was a solid album, Kanye did his thing on a few tracks, and I feel WTT was better than MBDTF and 808s as well. Cruel Summer? I wasn't a big fan of it. Now, after you come from MBDTF, the question is, where do you go now? You've reached your creative peak, you've made classics, you've regressed, now where do you go in this music game?........

I hate to end things off on a bad note, I really do. But, Kanye allowed me to end things off a bad note. Yeezus, an album that was an experiment in itself, was pure awful. It was complete trash. The songs that were good on this are few, and the bad songs were really bad. Kanye has every right to experiment as an artist, and has the freedom to do what he must, but as the listening public, we have a right to our opinion. There was nothing deeper on this album like his fans try to make it out to be, the effort was lazy. The lyrics, the verses were lazy. The beats were only good in spurts, and some of the ideas just didn't work. I enjoyed "Blood on The Leaves" and "Bound 2", but none of those songs struck me as much and nothing off this album got added to my list of favorite Kanye songs. Jay Electronica, Jay-Z, and anyone who loves Kanye will try to dispute the quality of this album and just say "you didn't understand it", but look at the classic albums and most loved albums in hip hop. They were abstract, some straight-forward, some extremely creative, but guess what? They were loved, universally loved because we all "got it". Yeezus doesn't have that appeal and when listening back to it AGAIN? It gets worse by the listen. Kanye can do better than this, and perhaps he will on the next go. Only time will tell, right?

When its all said and done, out of 6 albums, Kanye has 2 classics, one dope album, one that's good, and 2 albums that are either bad or pure trash. It's a bad discography and is still a strong one in hip hop. Let's hope the next few albums from Kanye are strong. Now, next discography check? We're going to the south. Outkast. Stay tuned. 



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