Kanye West is one of the most celebrated and polarising artists of our time. To just call him an artist would be doing him a massive disservice, he really does everything. He’s pushed art and culture to their absolute limit ever since he first appeared on mainstream airwaves with The College Dropout, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Whether he’s pushing the boundaries of art, music or fashion no one does it quite like ‘Ye and it’s safe to say no one probably ever will. Now reaching the tender age of 45, you’d think he’d start to trade the Yeezy’s for slippers (we don’t think he ever will, thankfully) and relax a little. Although we don’t think ‘relax’ is in his vocabulary. If there’s one thing you can bet on it’s that he’ll reimagine himself every time he pops back into the public sphere. Luckily, it’s not as a retired senior citizen just yet.
Whether you love him or hate him, it’s difficult to discredit the impact he has had on millions around the world. As the Chicago native seemingly steps into yet another new era, here are 10 reasons why HUNGER can’t get enough of him.
1. His ability to reinvent himself musically
One of the most incredible attributes Ye has is that you never quite know what you’re going to get from him. Who would’ve thought that the same man who made the endearing The College Dropout would be able to produce the unhinged and intense Yeezus? The two projects are worlds apart but that’s why we still all flock to the next album 20 years on. It’s exciting, unpredictable and a stroke of genius. Ask a group of Yeezy supporters their favourite albums by him and a lot of the time they’ll be completely different. If you want relatable raps, then go for Late Registration, if you want to cry in your room at 3am then 808s and Heartbreak is the one for you. There truly is no right answer.
2. Levelling up other artists
How many success stories have we seen that start off with Ye giving up and coming artists an opportunity? We won’t go through all of them, we’d be here all day. But his ability to spot talent early on and give them the tools and mentorship to succeed is almost unmatched. You could make an argument for him being music’s greatest A&R. Take Kid Cudi for example, who most certainly had a buzz around him by the time he met Ye but was blown into the stratosphere after his work on 808s and Heartbreak. He was considered a key component of Ye’s success and eventually flourished into one of the most revered artists of this generation. Although they’re now seemingly sworn enemies, we’ll try and remember the good old days!
3. Kicking the door down in the fashion industry
Mr. West had spoken for years about how he felt marginalised and looked down upon in the fashion world earlier in his career. Fast forward to today and his Yeezy collaborations with Adidas are one of the most sought-after products in streetwear. In 2020 alone sales for Yeezy reached $1.7 billion, he didn’t just kick the door done, he completely demolished it. He led the way for the likes of Virgil Abloh and Jerry Lorenzo to cultivate their own incredible careers in the world of fashion. A recent partnership with GAP has even crossed into the realms of high fashion after a landmark collab with Balenciaga was revealed earlier this year.
4. Kanye loves Kanye
If you somehow didn’t know by now, Kanye loves himself. A lot of people may see that as a negative, but after achieving the goals he has it’s almost impossible to imagine someone reaching his level without the same level of confidence. It’s given him the impotence he needs to take risks that many people would be afraid of themselves. Of course, sometimes it can come off as egotistical but at least he has the self-awareness to poke fun at himself with 2016’s “I Love Kanye”.
5. Cultural Impact
Not many people have had a chokehold on the youth as much as Ye. Whether it’s polos and backpacks, masks or those infamous Balenciaga boots (does he ever take those off?) everyone wants what Kanye is wearing. He’s sparked trend after trend after trend and it’ll probably stay that way for a very long time. How many of you reinvented yourselves as an edgy tour merch wearing grunger after the Yeezus tour? It’s okay, we all go through our phases.
6. Never being too big for the industry
As mentioned earlier, Kanye loves new artists. At 45 most artists seclude themselves and stop keeping their ear to the streets, eventually losing themselves as they recreate the same monotonous music over and over. Not Ye. His most recent prodigies Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign both gave show-stealing performances on his latest album, Donda, and even pushed Kanye, a 45-year-old man, to hop on a drill beat. At this rate, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Kanye hop in the studio with Digga D.
7. His openness with mental health
Since Kanye was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he’s been incredibly open about the effects it has had on him and his relationships. The cover for his 2017 album ye famously featured the quote “I hate being Bi-Polar, it’s awesome”. The album itself openly discussed the struggles that came with the disorder whilst also empowering himself and others throughout its duration as Kany dubbed the disorder his “superpower”.
8. Iconic tours/shows
When it comes to stage design and production value in the modern era, no one does it like Kanye. The floating stage for The Life of Pablo tour was a masterstroke and will live long in the memories of fans. The spike-covered masks for the Yeezus tour will forever go down in pop culture history. Even more recently the designs for his Sunday Service show he hasn’t lost the knack for creating something we’ll never forget. Can it really get more legendary than the hundreds of beaming lights raining down upon him at Glastonbury in 2015? Probably, knowing Kanye.
9. Classic after classic
There are not many artists who can say they’ve released 12 albums (including collabs) and still be at the peak of their powers. However, that seems like it’s been a walk in the park for Yeezy. Even the harshest Kanye critic can probably admit to him having at least two universally loved classics. Taking that a few steps further some fans even stake a claim for him having up to six. Of course, music is subjective and people have their own opinions but to only have one critically panned album (sorry, Jesus Is King) in a discography that large is nothing short of sensational.
10. Musical influence
Arguably, there isn’t one artist who has influenced the latest crop of hip hop stars as much as Ye. In fact, Drake, one of the most successful artists of all time, described West as “the most influential person” on his sound. Fast forward to even more modern times, Travis Scott has taken huge influence from Kanye adding his own spin on auto-tuned soaked melodies and booming 808s. 808s and Heartbreak gave hip hop artists the impetus to be more vulnerable, Yeezus allowed them to fully embrace an off the wall, rock inspired sound, overall Kanye tore down genre tropes endlessly and allowed hip hop to grow into the mainstream powerhouse it is today.