Kanye West is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists in the history of hip hop. Whether it is his production, his content, his fashion, or anything else, he has always seemed to make a big change in music with almost every album release.
Rather than debate what his best album is, which I think My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is, I wanted to debate which of his albums has been the most influential to the hip hop community.
Before discussing which one has been the most influential, I want to take off the ones that aren’t in the category.
While I think My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his best, it isn’t one of his most influential.
Late Registration was another great album, but it was basically a continuation of the sound he brought to life in his first album, College Dropout.
His two latest albums, The Life of Pablo and Yeezus, definitely had some experimental sounds in it, but none of those sounds really stuck within the community like albums past.
That narrows it down to College Dropout, Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, and his collaboration album with Jay Z, Watch the Throne.
College Registration was the album that first introduced the chipmunk soul sound that Kanye was initially known for. Not only that, but he was one of the first to show that you don’t have to be a gangster or be hood to make it in the rap scene. The body of work really cemented that hip hop music was changing in terms of content when he won the album war against 50 Cent’s Curtis.
808s & Heartbreak was one of the first hip hop albums to really open up and sing about all the pain that he was going through. It also was one of the biggest influences of rappers using autotune in their songs, alongside Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III and, of course, T-Pain.
Watch the Throne was one of the first collaborative albums with two artists who weren’t in a group with each other, and inspired many of the various collaborative projects that have released recently, like Offset, Metro Boomin, and 21 Savage’s Without Warning, Future and Young Thug’s SUPER SLIMEY, Drake and Future’s What A Time To Be Alive, and plenty of others.
Overall, I think that 808s & Heartbreak has been Kanye’s most influential, if not the most influential album of the past decade.
Not only did it inspire the content and sound of artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, Future and many more, but it is also one of the reasons that we hear autotune in almost every song today. Without the autotune heavy production of 808s and Heartbreak, people like Travis, Quavo, Future, Lil Durk wouldn’t be making music the way that they do.
A couple years ago, HotNewHipHop wrote an article about why they consider it Kanye’s most influential album, and for the most part, it’s true.
Most of Kanye’s albums have progressed the hip hop community in some way, but which album would you guys consider Kanye’s most influential album? Let us know in the comments below!