By Zach Felder
This review is entirely focused on the musical aspect of Kanye West and what songs in every album capture the true essence of Kanye West during that time and only focusing on his music as a rapper. Kanye West is one of the most influential artists (whether you like it or not) in the music industry today. A man who dropped out of college at 20 to pursue his dream. Kanye West in his twelve years as a rapper has had seven out of his eight albums go platinum as well as a total of fifty-five single platinum songs. His first album was The College Dropout, which released in 2004.
The College Dropout 2004: This has to be one of the best albums from Kanye. I felt that this album showed what Kanye West offered for the world. It was a bright future for Kanye. Everyone knows of Jesus Walks, it is a very powerful song, with a generational beat. A song I can remember playing the beat on my desk in 5th grade. Although, I don't feel that Jesus Walks is the best song of The College Dropout. Songs like All Falls Down, Never Let Me Down, and Family Business are the most refined.
All Falls Down
"Man I promise, she's so self-conscious
She has no idea what she's doing in college
That major that she majored in don't make no money
But she won't drop out, her parents will look at her funny."
Tells the tale that a lot of people have felt in their lives. Forced to be self-conscious and do something that they don't enjoy, it is best said with Kanye's verse. It is a predicament that every person has to deal with. As a college student, I see this as a message from Kanye to pursue your dreams. Don't care what others say about your dream. Obtain it.
Never Let Me Down
"I get down for my grandfather who took my momma
Made her sit that seat where white folks ain't wanna us to eat
At the tender age of 6 she was arrested for the sit in
With that in my blood I was born to be different
Now niggas can't make it to ballots to choose leadership
But we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership
That's why I hear new music
And I just don't be feeling it
Racism still alive they just be concealing it."
This song shows the dedication Kanye has to make it big in the music industry and make an impact on the African-American community. Never Let Me Down is more political than most of Kanye's work, but in 2004, society was very different, and this song gave voice to the angst that the African-American community is experiencing.
"This is family business
And this is for everybody standin' with us
Come on, let's take a family Grammy picture
Abby, remember when they ain't believe in me?
Now she like "See, that's my cousin on TV"
Now, we gettin' it and we gon' make it
And y'all gon' hate it and I'm his favorite"
Kanye West's mother was very influential on him and his biggest fan. This is a song that anyone can listen to that has been away from their family for a long time and feel a genuine family embrace. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how rich anyone is, family is more important than success.
Late Registration 2005:
Kanye's second album has about 21 tracks on it; I consider every song of the highest quality. Kanye West was having a fun time writing this album. It is genuine, and the energy throughout the entire album is always high. Gold Digger was the most successful song in Late Registration, helped him once again go platinum with the Gold Digger single and the album Late Registration. Honorable mentions: Roses, Crack Music, and Drive Slow are great songs, but did not make the list.
Touch The Sky
"I'm trying to write my wrongs,
But it's funny these same wrongs helped me write this song."
Touch The Sky has a lot of energy and represents the sudden success that Kanye West has had with The College Dropout. He is happy, and this track shows how much fun he is having while making each song. He also sees the errors of The College Dropout and corrects them.
My Way Home
"We wear struggling chains
Divided only hustle remains
Making sense of it we hustle for change
Revolution ain't a game
It's another name
For life fighting
Someone to stay in they corner like Mike Tyson"
A short 1:43 song, a rhythmic song that is entirely rapped by Common. A song that tells a message to the listener, to make a difference in the world and do something with their lives.
Bring Me Down
"You see, if you ever wanted to ever be anything
There'd always be somebody that shoot down any dream
There'll always be haters, that's the way it is
Hater niggas marry hater bitches and have hater kids
But they're gonna have to take my life 'fore they take my drive
'cause when I was barely living, that's what kept me alive"
A song that encapsulates the struggle that Kanye West went through to pursue his career as a rapper, a career that most said wasn't a good idea or would be successful. We are told by Kanye to keep on pushing for our dreams and never stop until obtaining them.
"Seven years old, caught you with tears in your eyes
Cuz a nigga cheatin, telling you lies, then I started to cry
As we knelt on the kitchen floor
I said mommy Imma love you till you don't hurt no more
And when I'm older, you aint gotta work no more
And Imma get you that mansion that we couldn't afford
See you're, unbreakable, unmistakable
Highly capable, lady that's makin loot
A livin legend too, just look at what heaven do
Send us an angel, and I thank you (Hey Mama)"
This song tells the tale of how much Kanye loves his mother and will do whatever she needs for him. A rag to riches story for Kanye West that truly became a reality. Sadly, Kanye's mom passed away from surgery complications in 2007; this song is sadly foreshadowing.
Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) [Feat. Jay-Z]
"How? when I know of the blood diamonds
Though it's thousands of miles away
Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today
Over here, it's a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs
The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses
I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless
'Til I seen a picture of a shorty armless
And here's the conflict
It's in a black person's soul to rock that gold
Spend ya whole life tryna get that ice
On a polo rugby it look so nice
How could somethin' so wrong make me feel so right, right?"
Another political song by Kanye West, a song that compares the continuous gang violence that goes on throughout The United States, but most importantly, Kanye's hometown Chicago or Chiraq. A city that is filled with so much gun violence that it is now nicknamed after Iraq.
"Over here, it's a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs"
These two lines tell the paradox that people are experiencing. A gangster sells drugs to his/her community to better themselves which is killing them. Then to buy a chain that only at the same time, is a tainted as themselves. A diamond chain that is forged in blood and force labor in Sierra Leone.
Graduation 2007: Kanye's third album, this album is an intense piece by Kanye West. Kanye got into the spotlight with his insanely successful song "Stronger" which sadly is not my favorite. The album as a whole was a solid piece. Two songs particularly stand out for me on this album.
"She don't believe in shootin' stars,
but she believe in shoes & cars
Wood floors in the new apartment,
couture from the store's department
You more like L'eau de Stardee shit,
I'm more of the, trips to Florida
Order the h'orderves, views of the Water
Straight from the page of your favorite author
And the weather so breezy,
man why can't life always be this easy"
At the time, Kanye West was dating Alexis Phifer, and they were engaged. This song is very catchy but is a crafty love song that has an amazing beat. It also shows how much Kanye has progressed as an artist and created many high caliber albums by producing and rapping in them.
"It always seems like she talking about me,
She said you left your kids and they just like you
They wanna rap and make show beats just like you,
But they just not you and I just got through
Talking bout what she can try to do just not new"
Another love song from Kanye that has an excellent beat and shows how Kanye West was in love with a girl before he moved away from Chicago (his hometown) to pursue his dreams. It is a sad reality, which most of us have to leave our hometown to pursue our dreams. This song hits me personally since I moved from my hometown.