“You can’t have old rules for new games.” Ye
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Kanye West has been the instigator of several "revolutions" in the music, fashion and lifestyle industries. Some of which have changed the rules of the game forever.

All the times Kanye West has revolutionized the music industry.

Since his early days, Kanye West has challenged the “unwritten” rules of Rap, shaping them to fit his own somewhat dark and twisted vision.

He has always vigorously advocated a refusal to be pigeonholed into a musical genre, into a static figure who acts and moves as an automaton in the world of music – and beyond.

His attitude has always been toward novelty, destroying the formula that has worked up to that point in favor of a completely different direction, risking leaving even the most aficionado audience on the street. This concerns-obviously-his musical output, public image and name, which at one point in his career he changed to YE.

Kanye West has been the instigator of several “revolutions” in the music, fashion and lifestyle industries. Some of which have changed the rules of the game forever.

– He Invented the Electronic Rap

With the 2005 album Graduation, Kanye leaves everyone speechless.

He takes the first revolutionary step of his career, both stylistically and commercially, by sampling Daft Punk‘s iconic track “Stronger” with quotes from Nietzsche.

“Stronger” was meticulously crafted, working with 11 mixing engineers and eight audio engineers, for 75 mixes in total. Graduation’s lush synths and electronic influences inspired hordes of rappers and producers to introduce more techno and electronic elements into their productions: the influence of Graduation can still be heard throughout hip-hop today, in different subgenres.

– He paved the way of AutoTune in Hip Hop music.

Before 808s & Heartbreak – a ‘total’ album released in 2008 – AutoTune was used exclusively for mainstream dance tracks. Kanye West first used it as a tool to capture a wide range of emotions, manipulating the vocoder to produce vulnerable and introspective sounds.

No more happy beats for party anthems, as his contemporaries do; through the use of AutoTune West composes intimate songs, touching on topics ranging from grief to melancholy.

808s & Heartbreak will massively influence a whole new generation of rappers, paving the way for the vocoder for Hip Hop brands.

–  He giving birth to industrial rock-rap

The day Yeezus came out – in 2013 – fans did not know what to think.

The industrial and rock aesthetic of the album deviated drastically from the expansive sounds of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne.

As usual, Kanye felt like revolutionizing and shocking his audience, so he focused on the idea of minimalism and created an album full of raw sounds inspired by Nine Inch Nails and Chief Keef.

Yeezus’s most famous song, “Black Skinhead,” embodies the rebellious, punk rock mentality of the album, and less than 10 years after the release of the I say, we have witnessed a whole generation of young artists being inspired by this sound. Before long, every new rapper wanted to be a rock star, and most of them, even changed music genres forever.

– He introduced the Gospel in Rap music.

The Life of Pablo, Jesus is King, Donda: Kanye made his relationship with God evident by introducing a new genre of music, Gospel Rap.

Ye won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2021 with Jesus is King; while with Donda, he managed to transmute modern hip-hop into orchestral gospel in a way that had never been done before.

The new Gospel-Rap era ushered in by Ye has the ability to fuse – seamlessly – religious themes with trendy and street themes: an unparalleled revolution in the world of Rap.

– He has inaugurated the new “Luxury Rap”.

With the albums My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne, West helped push rappers into a new “tax bracket,” that is, spending mind-boggling amounts of money on productions, mixing tracks, and album covers, designed by contemporary artists and designers such as Virgil Abloh, Murakami, KAWS, Condo, and Riccardo Tisci.

Money rhymes were becoming commonplace, so Kanye and Jay-Z began to highlight other things that their contemporaries did not have at the time, such as expensive art collections and designer clothes. From this point on, the rappers’ approach to wealth changes dramatically: not just rhymes and ostentation, but true demonstration of a life of opulence.

Which YE album was a real revolution for you?

WORDS: Manuela Palma

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