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Imma Let you Finish…

Sumair Khattar

“I’mma let you finish but… Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.” These words echoed through the walls of households across the world. Boos engulfed Radio City Music Hall in New York as thousands of VMA supporters expressed their shock and horror. Within a day, a man that many loved became the most hated man in America. This one burst, this one interaction, this one moment, was the moment Kanye West became infamous.

To start, Kanye Omari West was born on the 8th of June, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised by his mother Donda West in Chicago. Ever since his high school years, he has been producing beats, doing freestyles, and attempting to express his thoughts and feelings to the world through music. His beloved first album, The College Dropout, describes his life as a college dropout, the flaws in the educational system, and more broadly, the decisions that people make in their everyday lives. His debut album was the first in the trilogy that is known by fans as “Higher Education.” After The College Dropout, fans received one of his best albums to release: Late Registration. In this album, he explores the struggles and differences that come along with this newfound fame. His last addition to the trilogy was Graduation, effectively ending his “Higher Education.” This album features a cover designed by Takashi Murakami, a Japanese designer that has worked with Kanye on several occasions. The bright colors accompanied by the classic bear perfectly capture the positive and vibrant mood that is conveyed through the strong and powerful instrumentals that Kanye selects. In this album, he relies heavily on electronic music, even collaborating with Daft Punk on the hit song “Stronger.” The general mood of his first three albums, which is reinforced by lyrics, production, and cover art, is positive. His songs talk about positivity, chasing your dreams, and living your best life.

On the 10th of November 2007, Donda West passed away. This ushered in a new era of Kanye. A more deep, dark, and bleak vibe took over. After his mother’s death, Ye released 808s and Heartbreak, arguably one of the most influential and important albums of all time. His use of heavy bass paired with pop-Esque rapping influenced a whole new genre of rap that has become increasingly popular in today’s culture. Artists like Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Juice WRLD, and Lil Uzi Vert all credited the album as an inspiration for their music. Kanye made it the norm to not just rap but sing, use autotune and use 808s (a nickname that was used to describe the Roland TR - 808 Drum Composer) in rap.

While the world’s affection for Kanye grew larger and larger, it all collapsed in one swift motion: the infamous Taylor Swift incident. The aforementioned incident pushed Kanye out of the world to his own distant island. He couldn’t step outside of his house without being hounded for his actions at the award show. Because of this, he moved to Japan, where he contemplated quitting music altogether and even taking his own life. In this pain and turmoil, he created what many believe is his Magnum Opus, even one of the best albums of all time—My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Everything, starting with the cover, catches the eye, enticing one to dive deep into the mind of a broken man. He explores themes of power, sadness, and fulfillment through his lyrics, arguably his best instrumentals, and his performances where he would mix and mash all of his songs using a soundboard that he designed while standing in the middle of the audience in his bright red suit and shoes. Hundreds of artists have sampled the project before, and some of the greats such as Kendrick Lamar have described the album as artistic inspiration. Even his more recent albums, Yeezus, The Life of Pablo, ye, Kids See Ghosts, Jesus is King, and Donda have created revolutionary music, culture, and fashion.

Kanye has also branched into fashion. Although many doubted Kanye’s ability to design and produce clothing and shoes, his brand was an instant success. His first project in fashion was his collaboration with Louis Vuitton. He designed a shoe for them and was dubbed the “Louis Vuitton Don.” He then made the Air Yeezy, a collaboration with Nike that has become extremely iconic and nowadays incredibly rare. After his collaboration with Nike, Kanye signed a multi-million dollar deal with Adidas creating his most famous shoes, clothes, and much more. He changed the sneaker industry with the release of the Adidas Yeezy 750 which used Adidas’ ultra boost technology along with Kanye’s design to create a smash hit. He continued to collaborate with Adidas and became so influential that many brands tried to replicate his designs. During his tour for his album ‘Yeezus’, he went on stage wearing masks designed by Maison Margiela, showcasing the god complex that he explores throughout his album. In the fashion world, he also collaborated with Takashi Murakami when he designed merchandise for his album Kids See Ghosts, a collaboration between Ye and Kid Cudi. He used Murakami’s design to create the album cover which was used for merchandise that was sold on tour. More recently, he began a partnership with Gap, releasing a jacket so far, with much more to come. Finally, he worked with Demna Gvasalia, a Georgian designer who is the creative director and co-founder of luxury fashion houses Vetements and Balenciaga, respectively. They worked together to design the merchandise for his most recent album, Donda, a tribute to his mother and his deep love for her.

“No you’re not perfect but you’re not your mistakes,” (Only One). Kanye has made mistakes in his life. That’s undeniable. His ego, his controversial opinions, his public outbreaks, and many more things make it hard for people to support him. But no matter what your opinion is on him, no one can deny his influence. The pink Polos, the Yeezys, the Maison Margiela Masks, the album covers, the Daft Punk, the Takashi Murakami, the soundboard, the Red Suit, the 808s, the love for Donda, and of course, the I’mma let you finish...