Kanye West has been known to make claims of great magnitude, include assertions that he is God or a god. While it would be easy to dismiss these, along with his often erratic behavior as preposterous and ridiculous, we are left with his music. It cannot be denied that he is one of the greatest rappers of all time, and perhaps one of the top three lyricists. Each one of his studio albums from any year can be played of on its own and reassert the anthems it inspired whatever year it came out. On every album he appears to top himself, be it lyrically, rhythmically or otherwise. For whatever Kanye is not, he is certainly an entertainer and a musician in every respect of the words.
And with that, we begin our walk down memory lane, on which we will revisit each of Kanye’s album in hopes of creating a master list of the best track from each release. First up we have his 2004 release The College Dropout, his debut studio album. With twenty-one tracks, including a few recorded skits, Kanye announced himself on this debut as the most creative man in rap. My favorite recording of this album is ‘All Falls Down’, which features Syleena Johnson on some truly dope vocals.
Kanye followed his strong debut album with Late Registration, which I see as his greatest work before Life of Pablo. I had a hard time choosing my favorite track of this album, but ultimately I can’t deny that I still listen to ‘Heard Em Say’ featuring Adam Levine from start to finish every time it pops up in my shuffle. Sticking with the college theme, Kanye’s third studio album was Graduation, released in 2007. This album too is replete with hits that still resound today, however my undeniable favorite is the heavy and brash ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’.
808s & Heartbreak featured Kanye adopting a more introspective, mature flow as well as some truly great lyrical works. ‘Love Lockdown’ is my favorite production of the album, the accompanying music video still playing inside my head every time I hear that first thumping bass hit. His next album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, though probably my least favorite of his work, still featured some inspiring and artistically composed tracks. One of these was ‘Runaway’ featuring Pusha T.
Next Kanye teamed up with Jay Z to create the banging album Watch the Throne. With two superstar rappers like this combining on every track it’s impossible for me to make a clean decision. On this one, the tie goes to ‘Gotta Have It’ and ‘Who Gon Stop Me’, two bangers for the ages. With his next album Yeezus, we begin to get a taste of the new, more experimental Kanye. For this album, my favorite track is the slow and sultry ‘Hold my Liquor’.
Finally we have his latest release The Life of Pablo, on which Kanye pushes every boundary to give us his best music to date. Because this album features both slow tracks and thumping rap bangers, I’ll have to pick two winners yet again. In this case, the tie is going to ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ and then the moving ‘Real Friends’. One thing is clear, whatever Kanye comes out with next is sure to amaze at its time of release and perhaps ever after.
By: Fletcher Bonin
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