Ranking Kanye West's 6 Albums From Worst To Best
We attempted the impossible task of ranking Kanye West's six solo albums.
This was hard. This was really hard. Mostly because we love all of Kanye West's albums. They've each played a unique role in the progression of hip-hop (and music in general), each pushing the boundaries of his sound and offering something new to the table.
However it's fun to really dissect a great artist's work, and Kanye's is no different. His music (and his antics) has been the subject of much conversation amongst music critics, news anchors, and even our president. So why not try and pick a first and worst when it comes to Mr. West's output?
That's just what we did, so feel free to agree/disagree in the comments, argue around with each other and embrace some good ol' fashioned musical debate.
Yeezus wasn't for everyone. It was raunchy, dirty, unique and thrilling, but it wasn't an inherently chill listen at all. Certain songs stick out by themselves and are hard, but as a whole it just isn't on par with the soulful sounds of his previous six efforts.
This isn't to say the album wasn't enjoyable at all, just not as much as the earlier works.
Graduation ushered in a new era of Kanye and was the first glimpse we saw in to the ultra-modern aesthetic that he has been chasing ever since. Beginning with "Good Morning" and ending with "Big Brother" was a perfect move, no less impeccable than the 11 songs that fall in between them.
Where the album falls shorter than the next few is in it's ability to really push the envelope. Collaborating with Daft Punk was definitely a groundbreaking moment for electronica and hip-hop alike, but the rest of the album doesn't carry along the 'unprecedented' vibe.
808s & Heartbreak (2008)
Departing from the style of his previous three LPs, Kanye West took auto-tune and synthy 80s influences to produce 808s & Heartbreak. The album met mixed reviews off the bat, but is largely considered a classic in 2015, to the point that Rolling Stone listed it as one of the 40 most influential albums of all time.
The album definitely ushered in a new era of hip-hop, and the game hasn't been the same since its release. Evidence of it's influence can be seen as early as Drake's similarly important mixtape, So Far Gone, where he takes on the "Say You Will" instrumental.
Late Registration (2005)
Every song on Late Registration is awesome and unique, but it comes together as a slightly more jumbled work than the next two on the list. Though it may lack cohesion, it still stands as a masterful set of songs.
"Touch The Sky" perfectly utilized a Curtis Mayfield sample, and everyone from Common to The Game added a meaningful feature. In the end, we're left with nineteen classic records, (or 21 on the special version), which is no small task, even for Yeezus.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
This album is nothing less than a movie. It's one of the most vivid hip-hop albums ever created, if not the most vivid. As soon as Nicki Minaj's opening spoken word leads way to "Can we get much higher?" which precedes a RZA-collaborated beat before Kanye chimes in:
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I fantasized about this back in Chicago
Mercy, mercy me, that Murcielago
That's me, the first year that I blow
How you say broke in Spanish? Me no hablo
Me drown sorrow in that Diablo
Me found bravery in my bravado
D.J's need to listen to the model's
You ain't got no fuckin' Yeezy in your Serato?
(You ain't got no Yeezy, nigga?)
Stupid, but what the fuck do I know?
I'm just a Chi-town nigga with a Nas flow
And my bitch in that new Phoebe Philo
So much head, I woke up to Sleepy Hollow"
The rest of the album doesn't slow down for a second. Kid Cudi, Raekwon, Jay Z, Rick Ross, John Legend and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon go on to compliment Kanye in such a way that you can not simply dumb down their performances with the word "features." It was an incredible joint effort that truly put Kanye West on top of the music world.
The College Dropout (2004)
It was really hard to rank The College Dropout first, but it's kind of hard not to rank Kanye West's first album as his best. Introducing the best 'best producer on the mic' since J Dilla, Kanye West took the world by storm with singles like "All Falls Down," "The New Workout Plan," "Jesus Walks," and "Slow Jamz." They acted as an incredibly diverse quartet of singles that may have made Kanye the most versatile MC right off the bat.
It also was the debut of a man who could make his own music to rap on. This was at a time where hip-hop had gotten a little stale, and most singles were cookie-cutter tracks that rapped about money or bad-mouthing women. Kanye didn't completely disregard those themes, but was able to focus largely on more relatable topics through the concept of college registration.
The LP also wasn't short...not by a long shot. Twenty-one songs is a lot, even if a good handful were skits. The breadth of the album was probably the best since Jay Z did The Blueprint, of which Kanye had his hands in as well. It was clear that hip-hop was getting a new king, a new GOAT, a new legend in Mr. Kanye West. And nothing has been quite the same ever since.