AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #065 : KANYE WEST

A GUEST POSTING BY ROUGH S.F aka GANG$TA RHYMES

Kanye

This is that Goon’s Shit. An Imaginary Kanye West Compilation by Rough S.F aka Gang$ta Rhymes

I hear what you are saying about Kanye West.

“Kanye West is an asshole.”

“He’s a self-absorbed prick who rants just to get attention.”

That sadly is the point with Kanye West, I don’t like his public persona, but I tell you what, I’m not going to sit here and deny his talent. Whether this is behind the production desk on the mic – he has this magnetic quality that always keeps you wondering what he is going to do next. This is the man that put a Raekwon (a member of the Wu Tang Clan) and Justin Bieber on the same record and made it work. Somehow. For the only time in my life, I listen to a record with Justin Bieber on it. This is also the man who launched ‘Yeezus’ by releasing ‘New Slaves’ a brutally angry record about racial segregation in American prisons by plastering his face all over random buildings all over the world.

You think he cares what you think of him?

He’s the man. Now I’m not stupid enough to argue that just because you win an award you are any good, I mean some years ago, Lulu won an Oscar. Lulu. Also I think Gary Barlow has three Ivor Novello awards for songwriting. Gary Barlow – but Kanye West has won more than 20 Grammys. How many other artists have won that many?

He’s the man. I’m also not stupid enough to believe everything the music press right about stuff – I mean ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’ by Coldplay was voted Album of the Year by seven mainstream papers when it was released. But Kanye West has more records in Rolling Stones Top 500 albums of all time than any other rapper. Pitchfork magazine voted two of his records in the Top Ten (1st and 8th) greatest records of this decade. Time Magazine voted him one of the most influential people in the world last year, and yet still people say he’s shit.

He’s the man. I’m also not stupid enough to say just because people copy you or be influenced by you that this is a good thing. But. When West released the Daft Punk sampling ‘Stronger’ he single-handedly paved the way for a disco and electro revival in the States in the latter part of the ‘noughties’ (sorry, terrible term) and paved the way for a new breed of hip hop acts to change the way it looked at life, much of the ‘Gangsta’ persona has been dropped, acts like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Future and Drake arrived and Hip Hop changed, and in the last ten years it’s been better than it has been for years and years.

Whatever you all think, let’s face facts. Kanye West is one of the greatest hip hop acts of all time. He is as bold and creative artist as ANY of the boys with guitars we all adore. His sound continues to evolve with each release. His albums range from soulful (College Dropout) through autotune hell (808s & Heartbreak) to the experimental genius of ‘Yeezus’. So he is an arrogant self-publicising wankpuffin, who cares! He is a rapper, that’s what rappers do. So what that he has a mouth the size of the Brooklyn Tunnel, He’s a rapper. Get over it. So he dissed Taylor Swift and married a Kardashian. He also dissed George Bush, funded numerous inner city charities (google the Kanye West Foundation), and helped to launch the careers of several excellent rappers through his constant work and involvement in the American Hip Hop scene. Alongside Jay – Z and possibly Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West is probably one of the most influential people in the world right now – whether you like or not. So – here it is, a Kanye West Imaginary Compilation. Enjoy it you muthafucking jive turkeys.

Side One

Jesus Walks – From ‘The College Dropout’ (2004)

They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus—but Kanye did just that, and made a certified hit. It also got praise from critics and fans alike. The drums on this are perfect, the gospel chants are unlike anything else in hip hop. The fact that this is as religious a song as you can feasibly get without turning a bit Cliff Richard is incredible.

Niggas in Paris – From ‘Watch the Throne’ (2011) (with Jay Z)

By 2011, West had become a rap icon. So when he linked with his mentor Jay-Z to record the collaborative ‘Watch The Throne’ album, it was merely a shits‘n’giggles LP recorded for their own amusement. Such opulence was apparent on album anthem ‘Niggas in Paris’, which introduced the term “cray” and reminded us all that we’re mere minions to the throne. That shit cray.

Runaway – From ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010)

Chilling, brooding and poignant, ‘Runaway’ was the clear centrepiece of ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. After six minutes of intricate self-loathing with collaborator Pusha T, ‘Ye emphasises the point with another three minutes of piano-laced reflection, this time distorting his vocals to the point of incoherence. Even if you hate Auto-Tune, you have to respect his artistic approach here.

Through The Wire – From ‘College Dropout’ (2004)

Before Kanye would crash Taylor Swift’s parade and highlight then-US President George Bush’s apparent disdain for black people, he was just a regular dude trying to get on. These days, it’s crazy to think that Kanye’s career almost ended before it got started. For ‘Through The Wire’, he rapped through a wired jaw, the result of a nearly fatal car accident in 2002. This track was Kanye at his most human, before all the flash and decadence that keeps the artist from fawning adoration. Oh and it samples Chaka Khan, and that is essential listening.

New God Flow – From ‘New God Flow’ Single (featuring Pusha T) 2012

While “New God Flow” is heavy on the samples (most notably Ghostface’s “Mighty Healthy”) it provided the perfect backdrop for Kanye to shed some light on the recent violence that had been plaguing parts of the States. “I’m from the 312/Where cops don’t through/And dreams don’t come true” he tells us. Kanye has always created certain songs with packed stadiums of festivals in mind – which probably explains the military call and response at the end. Heavenly.

Side Two

New Slaves from ‘Yeezus’ (2014)

My favourite Kanye moment. This is just vicious. A song about racial segregation and not following the crowd “You see there’s leaders and there’s followers/But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” he raps near the start. That, is an inspired lyric. Even if you hate rap, hip hop, anything without a guitar, applaud its genius. The song is pretty basic with this lovely little bassline running through it – but then this truck of beat drives through it to an aggressive conclusion. “Fuck you and your Hampton house” he spits – and you get Frank Ocean as well, cooing sweetly at the end.

Heartless from ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ (2008)

Due to a string of tumultuous events in Kanye’s life (relationship breakdown, mothers death, the collapse of the regime in Burkino Faso, that sort of thing), his album ‘808s & Heartbreak’ broke from his past and took an entirely different path. Favouring Auto-Tune and erm, singing over traditional rapping, 808swas a total departure. And mostly it was difficult to listen to, but then you get this.

Cold and hollow, “Heartless” probably best describes this dark yet beautiful moment in his career. The tones Kanye brought to life may have sounded heartless, but the song was really all about affairs of the heart. Tragedy in love is something every human on the planet can relate to. Bad break-ups happen, and since Kanye was living through one at the time, his honesty bled through. That’s probably why the song sold 5.5 million copies worldwide. He’s shit though, right?

Can’t Tell Me Nothing (single)(2007)

If there were one song to describe Kanye West and his career, this would be it. A statement, a promise, and a motto—“Can’t Tell Me Nothin’” set the tone for his defiant third album, Graduation; and gave West his first-ever street anthem. This song also marks the exact moment in his career when he went from rapper to international superstar. Its his finest moment.

Black Skinheads from ‘Yeezus’ (2014)

This tackles the tricky subject of a black man dating a white woman – note the reference to people ‘coming to kill King Kong’. On this song, West sounds as savage as he ever has done. He is fit to burst. He claims to be wiser than he’s ever been before and its this song that the ‘haters’ come in for particular attention. ‘If I knew what I know in the past, I would have been blacked out on your ass’ he tells them. Watch your backs, Kanye’s angry. Essential stuff.

Good Friday from ‘G.O.O.D Friday’ (2010) – features a cast of thousands

In 2010 West released a series of singles from his ‘G.O.O.D Friday’ series – which was kind of to launch the ‘G.O.O.D’ records label and gave them all away as free downloads. This was the fifth instalment and about 600 people guessed on the record. An ode to going out ‘I know the city getting ready for me’ he states and with that a classic joint was done.

He’s the man. Accept it.

GR

mp3 : Kanye West – Jesus Walks
mp3 : Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
mp3 : Kanye West – Runaway
mp3 : Kanye West – Through The Wire
mp3 : Kanye West – New God Flow

mp3 : Kanye West – New Slaves
mp3 : Kanye West – Heartless
mp3 : Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing
mp3 : Kanye West – Black Skinheads
mp3 : Kanye West – Good Friday

JC adds…….

Love or loath the man, there’s no getting away from the fact, as GR highlights, he’s made a lot of great music over the year.

14 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #065 : KANYE WEST

  1. I started listening to Yeezus when it came out and the music of the first few tracks simply blew me away. It was off-the-scale craziness of the highest order. Amazing. Then Kanye opened his mouth, and an unrelenting stream of macho, sexist, cliched hip-hop bull$h1t poured out and ruined it all. After four tracks of the same utter nonsense I stopped listening and stopped caring. Shame, because the music was incredible.

    Hip hop hasn’t changed that much – it still has a long way to go.

  2. “I’d rather be a dick than a swallower”.

    I listened to a few tracks until I heard that presumably thinly veiled anti-gay lyric. Well he’s a dick alright.

    And just because someone has shifted 5.5m copies of something doesn’t automatically make it great. I bet Celine Dionne has sold that much product too.

  3. Seriously Robster there is barely a macho or sexist lyric on ‘Yeezus’. ‘Black Skinhead’ is track two I think and that’s about racism. Also hip hop has evolved far more in the last ten years than people give it credit. Kanye is far from clichéd. Anything but I would say.

  4. It’s about consumerism Paul there is nothing anti gay about it. Not following the crowd.
    Selling records doesn’t make you great but it does mean people listen to you.

  5. and it shouldn’t be happening now Robster…..it’s not a system I’ve ever adopted. Let me look into it.

  6. WordPress thought it might have been spam but also recognised you were someone whose comments have appeared before. As such, the comment was put into ‘limbo’ awaiting my approval!!

  7. Badger here. Not the macho sexist sympathising other guy. Before this I thought Kanye West was a tube stop on the Metropolitan Line (thank you J. Hardy).
    Don’t personally care if he buggers cats for fun this set of tracks is incredible. He is important in the world of music. Like it or not.
    Also hip hop is so much better than it was five years ago. It has moved on. Being a white middle class guy who is nearly 50 I can talk confidently on this. I could argue that every single rapper ever is misogynist. I could also argue that most guitar bands are too they are just not as blatant about it.

  8. I’m not anti-hip hop. Far from it. I’ve made it clear many times that possibly the best live act I ever saw was Public Enemy. For me, the best hip hop is that which can make its point strongly and not resort to making constant references to genitalia or derogatory comments about women. Kanye may be a genius in many people’s eyes, but he’s no Chuck D or KRS-One.

  9. Nothing much to argue with here, GR.

    Kanye is no Chuck D or KRS-One, I’ll agree with that. But he has taken hip hop to new places. Not always better (in my opinion), but always seeking to be innovative. Rarely a rapper you’d describe as playing it safe. Of course he says the odd pretty stupid and, at times, if true, repellent thing but he’s not unique in my record collection for that – I’m just more likely to hear about it every single time he does. There may come a point where he steps over a line, or just starts making dull music. But until then, I’m still listening. And enjoying. Rap on.

  10. I wish I could separate the man from the music, although in reality that should never be a qualifier, but West get’s in the way of his own art for me. I am by no means a hip hop hater, nor am I a hip hop music buying fan, so I don’t have any stake in liking or loathing West over any other artists. I just don’t have any immediate draw to his music. I don’t have any immediate draw to James Blakes music or Rhianna either to straddle two poles, but their persona, personality or basically their mouths don’t get in the way of the music. As much as Kanye West gets slammed for being Kanye West, he also gets a pass from an awful lot of people. Hmmm, I seem to see some similarity to Donald Trump here too…

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