Urbandale Unplugged

The Student News Site of Urbandale High School

Urbandale Unplugged

Urbandale Unplugged

NFL Draft Recap
NFL Draft Recap
May 8, 2024
Podcast Episode 2
Podcast Episode 2
April 12, 2024

Greatness and Controversy

The Story of Kanye West

Kanye West, the profound rapper who once was on top of the world, with his name being mentioned by hip-hop’s greats, now seems far from what he once was. From his groundbreaking albums and innovative music production to his very controversial outbursts and unstable behavior, Kanye West is a rollercoaster of Greatness and Controversy.

Kanye’s rise to hip-hop fame was nothing short of greatness. He broke into the music scene in the mid-1990s, creating beats for small and low-key artists in the Chicago area. West received his first production credit at the age of nineteen after he produced eight tracks on Chicago rapper Grav’s debut album “Down to Earth” in 1996. After this, sometime in the late ’90s, Kanye’s talent caught the eye of Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella records, where he initially began as a producer. His creative beats and unique style captivated the music industry. Kanye was the creative force behind Jay-Z’s most famous album “The Blueprint,” a huge turning point in his career. Despite all of this success with being a producer, Kanye wanted something more. That something more was being behind a microphone, which would soon change his life.

Angel Laws

During this transition from producer to rapper, record labels and critics didn’t think he fit the typical “rapper” image. Despite all of this, Kanye was determined to prove all of them wrong. He began using his production skills to create his beats and then began to write his lyrics. Kanye’s debut album “The College Dropout” was released in February of 2004 and was a huge success. This album not only won Kanye 10 Grammy nominations, but it proved that Kanye could be not only a successful producer but a rapper. West’s perfect blend of soulful beats, catchy hooks, and authentic lyrics established him as a unique voice in the rap game.

After releasing his debut album in 2004, Kanye was right back at it when he released his 2005 album “Late Registration”. This album was also a huge success, debuting number one on the Billboard 200 chart and selling over 860,000 copies in the first week of being released. It came with some of his biggest hits, including “Gold Digger” and “Touch the Sky”. Following his mother’s death, Kanye released his best album, “Graduation” in 2007. This album is known for its upbeat feeling, mixing in hip-hop, electronic, and pop music elements.  It featured chart-topping songs like “Stronger” or “Flashing Lights”. This album also sat atop the Billboard 200 chart and is not only a fan favorite but a real testament to his growth and evolution as a rapper. 

Kanye’s most influential album came after all of these in 2008, when he released “808’s & Heartbreak”. The album was focused on introspection, vulnerability, and emotions. Songs like “Heartless,” “Love Lockdown,” and “Paranoid” showed his raw emotions and personal struggles, such as heartbreak and loss. This album was very influential to the music industry, inspiring many rappers that are on top of the world today like Kanye once was. Artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and Kid Cudi have credited 808’s and Heartbreak as a major influence on their music. These are just a few of the artists who have been influenced by the album. The album opened the door for a more vulnerable and introspective approach to rap and hip-hop.

Jason Decrow

Even with all this, as much as Kanye’s fame rose, so did his controversies. His outspoken nature and unpredictable behavior began to overshadow his musical talent. In 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye abruptly interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to declare that Beyoncé should have won the award for Best Female Music Video. This incident did not only take a lot of backlash, but you could say it was probably his most famous outburst. In 2022, Kanye came under fire for making multiple anti-Semitic comments, one of those blaming Jewish people for a “Holocaust” on African-Americans. He has also been seen wearing clothing with slogans celebrated by white supremacist groups. All this controversy around Kanye came with various repercussions, including being banned on both Twitter and Instagram for hate speech, and being dropped by various companies like Balenciaga, Vogue, and Adidas. 

Recently, Kanye collaborated with Ty Dolla $ign and other artists to create the album VULTURES. The album will supposedly have 3 versions, with different songs on each album. The album has had an amazing first week, debuting No. 1 on the Billboard Charts and grossing over $1 million. Kanye and others are currently going on tour, with listening parties worldwide.

Now you ask, my opinion? In my eyes, his controversy cannot outshine his musical talent. In no way, shape, or form will anything make Kanye’s remarks and actions justified. But I feel like people can still appreciate the man for his music and who he once was. His ability to innovate and push boundaries within hip-hop was second to none. While his erratic behavior and vulgar statements stir a lot of controversy, it is his musical talent that truly defines his legacy in music.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Urbandale Unplugged

Your donation will support the student journalists of Urbandale High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kale Smith
Kale Smith, Staff Writer
Kale Smith is a junior at Urbandale High School. He enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, and cooking in his free time. Kale is looking forward to writing and sharing stories for Urbandale Unplugged.
Donate to Urbandale Unplugged

Comments (0)

All Urbandale Unplugged Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *