Artist – Kanye West
Years Active – 2003-Present
Notable Album – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Sample Rhyme (from the track “N*ggas in Paris”):
“What’s Gucci, my n*gga? What’s Louis, my killa?
What’s drugs, my dealer? What’s that jacket, Margiela?
Doctors say I’m the illest, cause I’m suffering from realness
Got my n*ggas in Paris and they going gorillas, huh”
Chicago’s produced some great talent lately. It was tempting here to skip on Kanye — the city, Illinois and perhaps rap itself’s most recognizable name at the moment — and bestow this “honor” to someone like Chance the Rapper.
But there’s no denying Kanye’s immense role in rap over the last decade. He’s produced some of the most innovative, provocative and revolutionary music in any genre over that time period, becoming an icon in the process.
That he finds himself in the tabloids as often as the music charts is another matter entirely — we’re hear to focus on the rap itself. Though critics might argue that Kanye’s grasp of wordplay and flow aren’t always the greatest, his desire, and ability, to expand rap’s boundaries make him a legend.
He wanted to honor and repurpose the hits of the past, and he mixed them into his songs when he made College Dropout and Late Registration.
He wanted an arena feel to rap, and he made Graduation. He wanted to sing, and he made 808s & Heartbreaks. He wanted artistry, and he made My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He wanted anger and he made Yeezus. He wanted attention and he made Life of Pablo.
His ability to change gears and elevate new styles and techniques might make him the single most influential rapper alive today. It’s difficult to name an artist working today, from Drake to Nicki Minaj to Chance, and not be able to clearly see Kanye’s hand.