Ranking All 10 Kanye West Studio Albums
In recent times, people might have seen Kanye West mentioned in the news because he has changed his name to Ye without a surname. Regardless, he remains one of the most notable artists to emerge in the 2000s. Of course, some of West’s studio albums have been better than the others, though which one has which rank is very much a matter of personal opinion.
Ye is Kanye West’s eighth studio album. It is interesting to note that this was said to have been re-recorded over the course of two weeks after a TMZ interview in which he made his controversial comment about slavery being a “choice.” On the whole, Ye has some highlights. However, they aren’t enough to make up for the meandering remainder, which often feels either incomplete, unpolished, or some mixture of both.
9. 808s & Heartbreak
The name of 808s & Heartbreak is no coincidence. For those who are unfamiliar, West lost his mother because of complications related to cosmetic surgery. Furthermore, he broke up with his fiancee Alexis Phifer, with whom he had been together since 2002. On top of that, West was struggling with how his life had changed because of the international superstardom that he had sought out. As such, it is no wonder that 808s & Heartbreak is filled with emotion. Still, while it proved to be a huge influence on hip-hop as a whole, there is a reason why most people wouldn’t consider it to be one of West’s better studio albums.
8. The Life of Pablo
The Life of Pablo had potential. However, it was dragged down by a couple of things. One would be West’s famous tendency to jump from project to project, which make for a great deal of output but not necessarily a great deal of good output. The other would be West’s reluctance to engage in self-editing. Sometimes, this can be a beneficial thing because it results in a more authentic feel. Other times, well, suffice to say that The Life of Pablo is a bit too long at 20 songs.
7. Jesus Is King
Given its name, it should come as no surprise to learn that Jesus Is King is Christian themed, which provoked a fair amount of discussion among interested individuals when it was revealed. It is a more cohesive album than some of its other recent counterparts. Unfortunately, the execution of Jesus Is King isn’t particularly innovative, meaning that it doesn’t particularly stand out.
A lot of people have called Donda something of a miniature resurgence. This is because it is West’s latest studio album, meaning that it comes after Ye and Jesus Is King. Donda has a number of songs that are quite strong. However, it has the same issue as Life of Pablo, which is to say, West decided to give the listeners everything rather than edit anything out. Thanks to that, Donda is almost two hours long. Something that is problematic because it isn’t as consistently good as its highlights.
Yeezus can be considered West’s most experimental work. This can be seen in its wide range of influences, which include but are not limited to electro, industrial, and punk. As such, some people have outright called it an attempt at challenging, provoking, and even alienating the listeners. The critics loved Yeezus because of its boldness. Meanwhile, the consumers had a more mixed opinion. Still, it seems like there is a good chance that it will become one of those studio albums that get rated better and better as time continues to pass.
Graduation was solid through and through. For proof, look no further than the fact that it earned West his third Grammy for Best Rap Album while being his third studio album, which is the kind of feat that makes legends. Graduation was released at around the same time as 50 Cent’s Curtis. Something that prompted the media to engage in a frenzy of speculation about a sales competition. Both albums broke records because of this. However, Graduation was the one that came out the winner in the end, with the result that it is sometimes credited with ending the era of gangsta rap’s pre-eminence in mainstream hip-hop.
3. The College Dropout
Speaking of which, The College Dropout can be considered one of the studio albums that confirmed West’s status as a hip-hop pioneer. This is because its success opened up a new world of possibilities for what mainstream hip-hop could be. Things that seem normal now but were very much not in the mid 2000s. Nowadays, The College Dropout is no longer the standout that it once was. However, it remains an incredible record.
2. Late Registration
It is common to hear people talk about the sophomore curse. After all, no one has a perfect understanding of the secrets to musical success, so there are a lot of artists who manage to make it big with their debut albums before releasing something less impressive with their follow-up effort. Late Registration made it very clear that West wasn’t one of those artists. He remained relatable. Simultaneously, he showed clear improvement while also demonstrating real thoughtfulness. All of which came together to make Late Registration another great success of the mid 2000s.
1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Comebacks make for interesting storytelling. As such, it was no wonder that the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy received so much media attention when it came out. After all, West had managed to alienate not just a good chunk of his fan-base with 808s & Heartbreak but also a good chunk of the general consumer base because of his MTV Music Awards shenanigans. Thanks to that, there was enormous interest in seeing whether his attempt to come up with a studio album capable of washing away every stain would work or not. Most artists would’ve flubbed it. However, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy made it clear once more that West wasn’t most artists.