Kanye’s not crazy — he’s an unrecognized genius


Artwork courtesy of Ashley Lopez Lazo & Cameron Lee

“I understand culture. I am the nucleus,” said Kanye West in a New York Times interview from June 12, 2013–six days before the release of his most experimental, earth-shattering album yet, Yeezus. Many found his statement outrageous, even laughable–but in actuality, it’s completely true.

West, now going solely by the name Ye, (legally changed in 2021), has always been at the forefront of hip-hop since the release of his explosive, grandiose debut album, The College Dropout, all the way back in 2004. Since then, he has released ten solo studio albums, five of them widely considered to be some of the greatest of all time, and has received 24 Grammy Awards wins. But what’s truly amazing is his ability to change the landscape of popular music with each of his releases.

With The College Dropout, Ye pioneered the ‘chipmunk soul’ style of production, using sped-up samples of Motown classics to complement his idiosyncratic, Jay-Z inspired flow. But instead of sticking to his guns for his sophomore album, Late Registration, Kanye eschewed his previous techniques and developed an orchestral, monumental sound, even utilizing a 20-piece ensemble to fulfill his artistic vision–another element of Ye’s genius. His commitment to his own artistic vision, as well as his unfailing dedication to seeing his ideas play out, is simply inspiring to any hopeful young artist. Ye’s style shift after The College Dropout started a trend of continuous evolution in his sound–from Graduation’s brazen synth-pop to 808s & Heartbreak’s raw R&B all to the way to Donda–a beautiful mess of an album.

Kendrick Lamar, creator of the Grammy Award winning album To Pimp a Butterfly, commended Ye for teaching him to “always stay as creative as possible,” a similar sentiment shared by numerous other hip-hop artists. Despite Ye’s much publicized struggles with bipolar disorder (the subject of his 2018 album Ye) and stardom, it hasn’t stopped him before in any of his ventures–be it music, fashion, or even political office. Needless to say, we’re excited to see what Ye has in store next.