One of the many things that I was picked on for as a child was my music selection. For some reason, my classmates frowned upon the fact that I would rather listen to a song by Guns N’ Roses than a song about guns sung by guys who are really sweeter than roses. Now don’t get me wrong, I always have and always will have a special place in my heart reserved for hip-hop, I just have a fondness for other genres as well. I purchased my first Linkin Park album at the age of 11, and it really didn’t do wonders for my popularity at the time. I was already being described as “gay” and “a wanna-be white boy” due to the fact that I was part of the elite few in my elementary school who actually cared about learning By 2003 I had expanded my collection to the likes of Gorillaz, All-American Rejects, and N*E*R*D, and had grown tired of people vicariously living a life that wasn’t even theirs through mediocre songs.
I was beginning to think that I would never be able to enjoy the amazing beats and potential of modern day hip-hop and the positive relatable messages of alternative rock. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a musical white knight of sorts appeared on Rap City. This video was raw. It was powerful. It was positive. It was real. It was “Through the Wire” by Kanye West. It was four and a half minutes of a man pouring his soul into an equally soulful beats, describing not only his pain and tragedy, but also his prosper and triumph. I knew that only a person with infinite passion for music like me would be openly willing to put themselves through excruciating pain in order to get their message heard. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe he’s just a one hit wonder, maybe not.
In the months to come he would prove that he was not one trick pony with the release of singles like “All Falls Down”, “Slow Jamz”, “New Workout Plan”, and of course the inspirational and innovative “Jesus Walks”. Notice anything about the five aforementioned songs? I do. Since his debut classic album in February of 2004, Kanye West has never released a single with the same subject matter as the previous. He has managed to produce an illustrious career without conforming to the normal formula for the common rap album, such as:
The Song for the B***hes
The Song for the Street/Dumb N****s
The Song for the Smart N****s
The Song for the Club
The Song for the Radio/Ringtone/Mainstream America
After a much publicized feud with fellow hip-hop heavyweight 50 Cent in 2007, Kanye West proved once and for all that good music with strong, positive, and relatable messages can prevail in an industry where violence, promiscuous behavior, and the glorification (for lack of better terms) of complete bullshit. The music that I listen to is not determined by the color of my skin, their lyrical prowess or how much money the artist made last year. The music that I listen to is determined by how much I relate to an artists message. It doesn’t matter if it’s the unending double-entendres of the likes of Lupe Fiasco, the soft crooning of Maroon 5, or alternative rock anthems of Gym Class Heroes. If the music is made from the heart, I will most likely love it.
…and that’s why Kanye West is my favorite rapper…
-”Meteora was nice, but I bought Hybrid Theory twice”-Lupe Fiasco
-Any intelligent African-American male who attended an inner city public school can tell you
what I’m talking about
-”What Makes a Classic Album” coming soon.
-I put slashes in between some of them because usually they go hand in hand