Thursday, August 16, 2018

I Rank All of Kanye's Solo Albums

Starting from the bottom of the list, because why not?

#8 - Graduation

Graduation is such a great album. But it's rather forgettable, if I'm entirely honest. I've listened through this album a fair amount and the only songs I can sing along to are Stronger and Flashing Lights, and the 2 worst Kanye album songs are on this album, Barry Bonds and Drunk and Hot Girls. I would still recommend it to others, but definitely not as the best Kanye album.

#7 - The College Dropout

College Dropout is where the albums start to get really good. It has so many great tracks, like New Workout Plan, Graduation Day (which is an outro to the song We Don't Care), All Falls Down, Slow Jamz, Spaceship, and others. However, the 4 tracks of School Spirit (the song and 3 skits, actually) are definitely a low point. School Spirit isn't a bad song, but I don't find it very unique or compelling compared to others on the album or in Kanye's discography. Last Call is a great outro track though, and it spends most of its runtime telling an interesting story. However I can't say I necessarily want to hear this story more than probably thrice. This album is also quite long. If 2 or 3 of the songs on the album other than School Spirit were boring or bland, I couldn't justify the 76 minute runtime.

#6 - Late Registration

Late Registration is the Kanye release that is most similar to its predecessor. That doesn't mean it doesn't have its own unique sound though. The album as a whole features more soul samples than College Dropout. This album seems more personal than College Dropout, especially on the popular songs Hey Mama and Roses. The skits here are much better than on College Dropout too. I could never forget "BROKE PHI BROKE, WE AIN'T GOT IT" and "I walked into the brother Kanye's closet and I found new shoes!" My favorite track is Addiction because the instrumental is really relaxing. It's not even like relaxation type music. It soothes the soul. My least favorite track is We Major, which isn't interesting and goes on too long. The only other problem I have with this album is that there's 2 Diamonds from Sierra Leone's for some reason, like, do we really need 2 of them? I only listen to one of them when I go through the album.

#5 - Ye

Between this album and the next album, I had a hard time picking both #5 and #4. I really wanted this to be #4 because it really deserves it, but I just couldn't do that. This album is Ye's most introspective album. I'd like to start with the worst song on the album, All Mine. It's not very fun to listen to. Kanye's first verse is good, with the exception of the last line. It's dumb. The chorus is a bit annoying too. Like the first time through I had no idea what the words were. Then I watched the lyrics video and I was like "This is cheap." Fortunately for us, the 6 other songs on the album are all fantastic. I Thought About Killing You is such a quotable, memorable song. I first heard it and I was so hyped for the rest of the album. Yikes has a great vibe that I won't soon forget. Wouldn't Leave and No Mistakes go hand in hand. Wouldn't Leave is my favorite on the album. It really shows a side to Kim that not many people want to see or care to see. They'd much rather just victimize her and her family. Wouldn't Leave is my favorite on the album. Then we get to Ghost Town, which has a great hook with "I throw my hand on a sto-o-ove..... to see if I still bleeeeeed!" Then we get into Violent Crimes, which is sort of a love letter to his children. Not like a romantic love letter, because that would be creepy. He really cares about his kids here. I love this album. I wish I had the CD actually. If you'll mail me one, send it to me.

#4 - Yeezus

That picture doesn't do it justice. The physical release for this album is gorgeous. Watch some YouTube unboxings of it. It looks even better in person than on YouTube. This album is not so much about trying to see into Kanye's life and moreso trying to give you a unique experience. On Sight is quite the opening. I can't imagine people that only like radio pop could listen to On Sight and feel genuine hype. But I feel genuine hype. That's what it's there for. Black Skinhead is the most non-Yeezus song on the album. It still sounds like Yeezus, but it has more power and a less dark tone. It makes you feel powerful. That's in contrast to I Am a God, which makes you feel scared in the presence of Yeezus himself, portraying himself as a god among men. The end of New Slaves with Frank Ocean signals in a new sound starting with Hold My Liquor, which is more somber and it feels exactly like what I imagine a hangover is like. [I don't know for real, I'm a kid and also a law-abiding citizen.] I'm In It is big and up in your face. If you pay close attention there's dogs barking in the background of some parts of the song. And Blood on the Leaves....
I meant that in a good way. It really makes you feel what Kanye is feeling here. You feel distraught, unsure, and anxious. Then in Guilt Trip, we get a change of heart. "I need to call it off. I need to make it known." He's changing his ways. The dem a gwana's on the hook are addictive and amazing. Send It Up has some synths that are offputting at first, but you get used to them. Bound 2 is a wonderfully crafted track about Kanye's view on love after Guilt Trip's change of pace. It ends in the perfect place. This album could not be 2 seconds longer or shorter.

#3 - The Life of Pablo

The Life of Pablo is such a wonderful album in every way. Ultralight Beam is a great intro track, with Father Stretch My Hands telling a quick story of someone who's happy, but has issues with anxiety and other things. Famous has unique Nina Simone samples and defines Kanye's public character at that point in such a great way. Like Dropout, Registration, and Graduation, this album has too many songs to describe all of them. But tracks like I Love Kanye are great intermissions. Songs like Real Friends, 30 Hours, FML, Wolves, and others all sound thematically similar due to their solid instrumentals. Fade samples a song that I can't seem to find. Like I googled the sample from Fade and the sample website couldn't help. It does have samples, but not the right ones. I know what I'm looking for because I heard the song on the radio, but I haven't found it yet. I know my destination, but I'm just not there. Anyway, Saint Pablo, which was added later, is a great bookend to such a great album. Saint Pablo is the yin to Ultralight Beam's yang, if that makes any sense.

#2 - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

You probably thought this would be #1, didn't you? Every song on this album is great. Not even going into detail of the ambition of Good Fridays, the vinyl, and everything else, every song is expertly crafted in a way that nothing can be changed and still be as good. It's like an intricate machine with hundreds and hundreds of tiny parts. You don't know exactly how it was built, but it works, and it's amazing. The hooks on every single song are earworms. Every. Single. Song. There are some fantastic verses on Fantasy that would seem weird elsewhere, like how Kanye used a verse from Dark Fantasy in a BET Cypher and it was sorta weird. The flows on this album, except for Jay Z on Monster, are exceptional. Even some of the songs I don't like as much as others, like Runaway, are songs I find myself singing or humming quite a bit. The sample of Bon Iver's Woods in the beginning of Lost in the World is what led me to becoming a Bon Iver fan. This album is exceptional. But it's not as good as

#1 - 808s and Heartbreak

Truth be told, 808s is one of the last Kanye albums I listened to. I was kinda scared I wouldn't like it. But I got it on CD back in June at a Half Price Books and I've listened to it maybe 20 or even 30 times since. It starts off with the perfect Say You Will, which, like On Sight, really gets us into the sound of the album. Don't say you will..... unless you will. Then it gets into Welcome to Heartbreak. It's really sort of a sequel to Good Life from Graduation in my eyes. "Welcome to the Good Life"..... "Chased the good life my whole life long; I look back on my life and my life gone." Cudi's singing is excellent here. Heartless is what made me a Kanye fan back on May 15th. I had gone through a lot of emotional highs and lows and Heartless really brought me through a miserable time in my life. And so did the next track, Amazing. It's simply Amazing. Love Lockdown is a change of pace. But it really encapsulates a mood. "I'm not loving you the way I wanted to." Paranoid is the least good song on the album up to this point. It's still great though. Hudson's hook is really good. RoboCop is a song I originally didn't like, but then it grew on me and now I love it. Street Lights is such a memorable song. Like a lot of songs on 808s, I really relate to it. "I know my destination, but I'm just not there." Bad News is such a jam. It has a Nina Simone sample and it goes well with the rest of the song and the rest of the album. See You In My Nightmares is less somber, more loud. It's harsh because Ye and Wayne are angry and bitter. My favorite line is "But now we just repenting and now we just resenting." I don't even like Lil Wayne. Like, at all. The strings on this song are on point as well. Finally, we have Coldest Winter. A great tribute to his mother. The sample used on the hook is so wonderfully executed and the lyrics are so personal. Such a heartwarming song. But if you keep the CD running, there's a bonus track called Pinocchio Story. It's a freestyle recorded at a concert. It talks about how Kanye feels alone and nobody can really understand his sadness. It's always fun to listen to an album and thinking it's over but then getting a hidden track on the end. 808s is spectacular. It really makes us experience Kanye's pain and it helps us feel less like we're alone in our own pain. I love 808s.

If you want to buy any of the albums mentioned above, here are links.

The College Dropout
Late Registration
The Life of Pablo (digital only)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
808s and Heartbreak

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