After the genius of the early college days, Kanye West has advanced his musical plethora through collaboration, resulting in the ultimate manifestation of West’s ideology: YEEZY. His creative progression though music and fashion has undeniably made him one of the greatest current modern day artists and creatives.
808s and Heartbreaks (2008), formed off of difficult personal times, brought Kanye back down to earth after Graduation. ‘West chose to not exploit his pain but rather he helps us experience it with him’ (Noisey Images.) His sound became dominated by auto tune and a melancholic 808 drum machine, asserting loneliness and bereavement.
(Coldest Winter: Track 11)
‘Memories made in the coldest winter
Goodbye my friend, will I ever love again?’
Vulnerable stripped-down lyrics and beats came together with minimalistic tailored grey and white woolen suits, completed with a cracked red love heart made from Lego. West took his performance clothing for this album to a new level more recently whilst performing Pinocchio Story, matching an emotive song to a custom-made puppet suit covering his entire body.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was Kanye’s first musical release since that Taylor Swift incident and a period of self-inflicted exile, exploring the darker sides of fame and love. The deep cut samples, relatable lyrics, and anthemic hooks saw Kanye return to the industry with more musical capability than ever before.
(Runaway: Track 9)
‘Never was much of a romantic
I could never take the intimacy
And I know I did damage
Cause the look in your eyes is killing me’
Kanye continued to assert his return to music with his clothing. For his live performances, he wore an infrared coloured suit with red Louis Vuitton sneakers to match (later providing inspiration for his Nike trainers, The Red Octobers) a direct ode to Michael Jackson. Underneath, an army of gold chains hung down from his neck like a modern day Tudor King.
Watch The Throne saw West and Jay-Z co-produce an album that expressed the success and power of two black American musicians. As well as documenting ‘black excellence’, the two artists also continuously referred back to black oppression, from the streets and ‘black on black murder’ (as heard on murder to excellence), to their own experiences of racism.
(Murder to Excellence: Track 10)
’In the past if you picture events like a black tie
What the last thing you expect to see, black guys?
What’s the life expectancy for black guys?
The system’s working effectively, that’s why!’
West’s first concert tour in four years saw the pair performing fifty-seven shows, with an entire wardrobe in black designed by ex-Givenchy creative director and friend Riccardo Tisci. The aesthetic analogy Tisci and West shared fused the fashion and rap world together, something which West had always strived for. Oversized t-shirts with Tisci’s distinctive Givenchy stars around the collar, and a black leather kilt remain one of West’s boldest stylistic moves within the rap industry, challenging hyper-masculinity and fearlessly impacting on gender fluidity within fashion.
‘Splintering electro, acid house, and industrial force’ (Genius) came together for West’s sixth studio album, Yeezus. Fury and resentment were communicated in Kanye’s most threatening album yet, transforming the rap genre once more, with the wardrobe to match. A new collaboration, with Maison Martin Margiela, fuelled the crazed visuals that his tour possessed as he was ‘supplied with 10 couture pieces, 20 ready-to-wear pieces, an “exclusive” pair of trainers and four mask designs; one studded, one tiled, one mirrored and one jewel-embellished.’ (Vogue). Kanye performed every show in his iconic Margiela masks to add to his new sinister demeanor, unnerving the audience though the mixture of aggressive rap and the reluctance to show his face.
During performances of his most recent album The Life of Pablo, Kanye draped himself head to toe in his own brand, YEEZY. His genius has reached new heights in his ability to market his creative mind to the world and his brand embodies the growth of style shown throughout his albums. Fortunately for us, we can all buy into West’s genius’ as YEEZY season 6 is available for pre order now.