What Kanye can teach us about a progressive, growing, musical career.
I’m going to be talking about progress in this article, and how it looks, by using the living examples of Kanye. What many people think about progress is that it’s smooth and it’s an easy slope up the hill, filled with minor setbacks here and there, but other than it’s a smooth, greyhound bus ride to the top, with complimentary drinks and snacks provided. This is what most people think or assume, when in reality it is the opposite, as shown by Kanye’s Career.
Let’s begin. Kanye started as a humble, average guy. He never came from the hood, as far as I know, but he wasn’t fed with a silver spoon his early life either. Everything he has, he had to work for it. Kanye first started out as a producer, he produced for the likes of Jay Z, Common and lots of other artists. He didn’t want to remain a producer though, he wanted to be a rapper. At first nobody was giving it to him, the labels and a lot of other people wanted him to remain a producer. He was pretty damn good at that, exclusively producing Common’s classic “Be,” and nobody really saw him as a profitable venture in terms of rapping. Kanye didn’t give up though. He fought and he fought until he was given a chance. He started recording his own music as a rapper, which would be prepped for release.
While doing so though, one night while driving home, he got into a severe car accident and his mouth sowed shut. Now most people might’ve just given up there, but not Kanye. He recorded a song with his mouth shut, called “Through the Wire,” which would become a successful single. Afterwards, he would release his debut album, The College Dropout, which would go on to be a commercial and critical success. Afterwards he would release Late Registration which too, would become a commercial and critical success. Graduation would follow, another success, and then 808 and Heartbreaks.
Now before we move on to the other albums and the present Kanye. Around the time of Graduation was when things were getting a little iffy for Kanye. When Graduation was released, people saw it as him branching out away from his roots and what made his first two albums so successful. When he dropped 808 and Heartbreaks, everybody saw it as a confirmation. It was an extremely misunderstood album, even though it predicted what the sound of music would be like down the line, i.e now. It was also during this time that he broke up with a long time girlfriend I believe, and his mother died. It was also around this time that the Taylor swift incident happened, putting all of America against Kanye. Kanye was at an all time low, he had made so much progress only to be halted dead in his tracks.
It seemed like it was over for him, and had it been most people, it would’ve been, but once again Kanye proved that he was a fighter and that he wasn’t going to give up so easily. The following album he would drop would be, what many consider his magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. One of the most celebrated albums of all time. Kanye despite all his troubles, despite all the setbacks and backlash, and all the mistakes, managed to pick himself up, make up for his mistakes and put out an incredible album which proved to the world that he was indeed the greatest. That album solidified him as one of the monarchs of Hip-Hop and a force to be reckoned with.
Later on Kanye, would drop Yeezus, which wasn’t well received either, but he would began to break into the fashion industry as well, and drop another album The Life of Pablo, which was more well received than Yeezus. If there’s one thing we can learn from Kanye’s career, it’s this, that Progress is messy and a lot of times slow. It never comes easy and every step of the way, you are fighting for your life. There is no short, easy path to greatness, one must work hard for it.
There will be setbacks, there will be hardships and hard times, and there will be times when you are on death valley, back against the wall, and you just have to fight to be able to just survive. When those times come, remember Kanye’s story and remember that no matter what, you can always bounce back. Remember that there will be failures, there will be downfalls, but also remember that it is part of the journey, it is part of the grind, and part of the process of progress.