Very few people in the public eye have been as hated as musician Kanye West. From his spontaneous outbursts to his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” rant on live television, the man has brought about so much hate and outrage directed his way. Whether or not that hatred is deserved is topic for another discussion, however his talent as a musician cannot be denied. Writing about an artist seems an odd choice for this assignment, but I believe that West’s approach to constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of his genre and the style of his music, makes him an entrepreneur of a rare kind.
In particular, the album 808’s and Heartbreak showcased a sonic innovator who took the risk of trying something new; and resulted in it defining the sound of a generation. 808’s was released in a time when hip-hop as a genre was defined by brash, aggressive music and lyrics that primarily described a “gangster” lifestyle (women, drugs, alcohol…etc.). Following the death of his mother earlier that year, West decided not to be limited by the restraints placed on him by his genre and decided instead to release an album that deviated from the norm of the time; putting heavy emphasis on more somber, melodic instrumentals; lyrics on heartbreak and the loss of a mother’s love and being more vulnerable and personal than anyone in the genre had been before.
His revolutionary approach and the meticulous effort that he poured into crafting the album would define the music of the 2010’s. Some of today’s biggest artists: Drake, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Alicia Keys and Chris Brown (to name a few) have credited their success and rise to prominence to the music and the style of 808’s; and his bold approach to thinking creatively outside the box has given artists the freedom to not limit themselves but to think and make more experimental music.