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Kanye West: Voice Of A Generation?
December 7, 2008, 10:12 pm
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Kanye West

When Kanye West recently proclaimed himself “the voice of our generation”, more than a few eyebrows were raised, and even more scoffed at what was surely just another attempt to inflate his already over-sized ego. With Kanye you just never know, and this outburst will only spur on his haters to label him as a controversy chasing media whore, but for once, he may actually have a point.

After dropping out of Chicago State University to focus on a career in music, he rose to fame after his production was featured prominantly on Jay-Z’s critically acclaimed album The Blueprint, which eventually led to a record deal with Roc-A-Fella.

Despite gaining recognition as a producer within the Hip-Hop community, it wasn’t until West’s debut album, The College Dropout, that he came into the public spotlight, with massive hit singles such as ‘Through The Wire’ and ‘Jesus Walks’. 

With a foundation to build on, West began his climb to the top, dispelling the tricky second album rumours with the international smash ‘Late Registration’. Over 24 tracks he expanded his sound and showed off an array of guest stars that sent him into the A-list.

Never being one to rest on his laurels, West released Graduation in late 2007, a celebration of himself and all he had achieved, cementing himself as one of the world’s best recording artists, while revealing an ability to edit himself, releasing a 13 solid songs, cutting out skits and interludes that had cluttered previous releases.

Following the release of Graduation, West began to focus on the performance side of his music, constructing the critically acclaimed Glow In The Dark Tour.

However, in late 2007, West was brought crashing down to Earth when his Mother, his biggest supporter and inspiration, died due to complications following surgery. He decided to continue with his tour, an experience he later described as  “like losing an arm and a leg and trying to walk through that”. It was this experience, coupled with his break-up with his fiancee, that informed new album 808’s & Heartbreak.

A collection of stark, robotic arrangements, with 808 beats and flourishes of strings and no rapping, featuring West singing with the aid of Auto-tune, 808’s has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Many fans have been alienated by the fact that this is nothing like the hip-hop that made him a superstar.

Yet there can be little doubt that, no-one in recent memory, if at all, has ever had the balls to experiment so wildly with a winning formula, and for that West must be commended. While his so called contemporaries such as Timbaland stick rigidly to the same recycled tune again and again, Kanye is a star in his own right, offering another side of himself, previously unheard, to the listener.

This album is a trip into the darkest corners of West’s soul, revealing the pain that drives him, and has led to a reinvention of Kanye West as an artist. 

Whether or not the general public is ready to accept it or not is another matter, but Kanye West may well be the voice of our generation.

Download: Robocop

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