From the very beginning of his exceptional career, Kanye West has torn down the outdated idea that rappers had to be a part of the gang life to create music. West never gave into the stereotype of the street kid who grew up in a tough world where the only form of survival was to join the gang. He was none of that. Nor did he ever try to be any of that - and for one reason only - he never *had *to be any of that. His talent was on another level. A level that people did not recognize at first, but he never let any amount of criticism hold him down. Kanye West became a rapper in his own right: without adapting his style, without changing his appearance, without making his music fit the mold that those in the rap industry expected. His fame and his awards were earned purely on his determination and a full and comprehensive understanding of his own unobtainable talent – and because he ignored every ignorant person who said he couldn't make it. He possesses a talent no one understood until it was shoved in their faces with his debut album “The College Dropout” and the infamous “Through the Wire”. From that pivotal album, West became an icon of rap music.
Not only that, but the things he was, and is, so often criticized for - his unyielding, flamboyant fashion style and outspoken nature - have actually served to give him more air time, more interviews, and all around, make the public more interested in him as a person. He never lets criticism change him. In fact, he almost uses the press's attention to make his riveting ideas heard by more than just a few. His manipulation of the media's desire for drama to make his ideas heard is brilliant. He stays just who he is – just as he is meant to be, and he parades himself in front of the world like a demigod. The *New York Times'* Jon Caramanica states that West has been "a frequent lightning rod for controversy, a bombastic figure who can count ranking two presidents among his achievements, along with being a reliably dyspeptic presence at award shows (when he attends them).” From taking the mic right out of Taylor Swift's hands to claim that Beyonce deserved the award, to claiming that President Bush “does not care about black people” after hurricane Katrina, and public apologies that he later retracted, West has proven himself to be able to speak his mind, no matter the situation. But his reputation is preceded by a life of challenges that few could overcome. It is probably these challenges that led to the somewhat wild, yet unyielding and memorizing Kanye West we know and, despite how much the media criticizes him, love today.
His rise in the rapping world from a producer that received little recognition for his rapping talent to one of the most awarded artists of his time is more than respectable. In his debut album, “The College Dropout” in 2004 he forced the world to see his talent as a rapper despite his diversion from the typical hardcore gangster image. His determination to record “Through the Wire” while his jaw was still wired shut after a tragic car accident in 2002 showed his talent and dedication that far outweighed that of his predecessors and rivals. Rather than being held back as others would have, he used this incident to inspire him and move his rapping career forward. He stated that, all the better rappers used their experience to rap about, and so he thought he should do the same. He makes his struggle audible in “Through the Wire”. The slurred rhymes that are spat out through the wire that was holding his jaw shut show his full dedication and unobtainable talent as a music artist, producer, and rapper. He proved not only that he was a phenomenal rapper, but that rap was not just about the image, but about the music and the experience of each individual artist. And with each diverse, engaging, award-winning album, he continues to prove to the world that he has the right to be where he is.
“The College Dropout” is not the only album that is affected by West's experiences. West's life took a dramatic turn in 2007 when his mother, Dodna West, suddenly and tragically died of cardiac complications. Only months after, West and his fiancee ended their long-term relationship. The loneliness, heartache and pain from these incidences strongly influenced his next work, “808s & Heartbreak”. Feeling that rap alone could not express his deep-felt emotions, West turned to singing and auto-tune and made that a central part of this album, which became his most vulnerable album yet. He also demonstrates more of his diverse talent – and the risks he is willing to take to be real in his music. His fearlessness in producing this album is remarkable and sets him even further apart from his rivals and other rappers. While the reviews were much more mixed than those of his previous albums, both “Heartless” and “Love Lockdown” ranked extremely well on the *Billboard *top 100.
Kanye West has set a number of records and has accomplished things that only someone with his talent could ever obtain. As of 2013, West won a total of 21 Grammy Awards, making him one of the most awarded artists ever; he is tied with the legendary Bob Dylan for having topped the annual Pazz and Jop critic poll, with four number-one albums each. His album “My Beautiful Dark Fantasy” is rated best album of the year so far, and his new album, “Yeezus” was ranked eighth out of 100 albums. West has also won multiple MTV awards, including Man of the Year and the number-one Hottest MC in the Game. Every one of his albums have gone platinum - a feat few artists can claim. But he did not just leave his mark on the rap world; he has also been named number three on Billboard's top 10 Producers of the Decade. Yet he choose to leave a well developed producing career – part of which helped Jay-Z come back with his album “The Blueprint” in 2001- to follow his love and create music that would change the rap world forever. His long list of awards and Grammys prove not only that he has talent beyond the average rapper, but that he is everything he claims to be. He is the fantastic musician that deserves credit for his nearly unobtainable accomplishments; accomplishments that only Kanye West could achieve.
However, he considers himself to be more than just a rapper, musician, and a producer. In an interview with *Rolling Stone,* he said, "I am not what I would consider truly a musician. I am an inventor. I am an innovator...I care about innovating. I don't care about capitalizing off of something that we've seen or heard a thousand times. I'm not a capitalist in that way. I'm an innovator. That's my job. I like two things: I like innovating and I like making things better." And we, the audience, have seen his innovation, from his first album “The College Dropout”, which his insistent perfectionism caused the release to be delayed three times, to his most recent album “Yeezus”, which has been ranked his sixth consecutive number one album. Each album portrays a sense of self and individuality that cannot be beat. Each album is rehearsed and practiced until perfected. Each album demonstrates West's ability and right to be set apart in the rap community – and in every community he chooses to join. Each album reveals him growing as an artist. Each album adapts and shows what he is experiencing in life. Each album is vulnerable, strong and courageous in the risks he takes. And we see him improve not only himself, but raise the standard for other rappers, musicians and anyone in the entertainment world.
After watching in awe as the wild, unpredictable Kanye West led his unprecedented career, we now get to watch as West adapts once again to a huge lifestyle change - having a daughter. The current Kanye West seems to be based on trying to create a world that he wants his daughter, North “Nori” West, to grow up in. In an interview for *The Paper,* West states that all that time, all the seemingly sporadic actions and outbursts, he was “...fighting for his daughter Nori's future. 'Let's just tap back into the real world for a second — we can have children. Let's be thankful...We can raise our kids, let's be thankful. But how about we raise our kids in a truthful world, not a world based on brands and concepts of perception? Perception is not reality. When I look in North's eyes, I'm happy about every mistake I've ever made. I'm happy that I fought to bring some type of reality to this world we choose to stay in right now, driven by brands and corporations.'" West's dedication to not only his music and career, but to changing the world to be a better, less fake, place for future generations is as respectable and amazing as the rest of his accomplishments. His desire to raise his daughter, and the rest of her generation, in a world not run by brands or corporations demonstrates his admirably. It is a trait few can claim – this selflessness is something that is as rare as the talent West possesses.
He also stated that he no longer needs credit for everything he has done or wants to do - another drastic change since his daughter has been born. He states that receiving only partial credit will do for him. He accredits this change to a trip to the dentist. He claims that the effect nitrous had on him transformed him, as he told *US Weekly*, "I came out of the gas and had a completely new attitude on everything...It's fine to not get credit for everything; it's almost better. For the amount of things that I really want to do, it can only work if I'm credited for about 20 percent of them. Because if I'm really credited for the amount of things that I'm going to do and what I want to do, it's just too much. The reward is in the deed itself. The times that I've looked like a crazy person — when I was screaming at an interviewer or screaming from the stage — all I was screaming was, 'Help me to help more! I've given all I've got. I've gone into f---ing debt. It's all I've got to give. But if I had a little bit more opportunity, I could give so much more.' That's what I was screaming for. Help me to help more." He's right. He can't possibly be credited for all of his amazing feats, although he deserves it. He has done too much, accomplished too much and achieved too much for us to possibly recognize every one of them. His new attitude seems to be to take the high road and no longer expect the general public to see him for everything that he is, while still reminding the public of their failings in recognizing how great he truly is. It is us who cannot understand someone a great as he is. His vulnerable statements about needing and wanting help only demonstrates his strength as a person. He sees his own weakness and fixes them. Not when people tell him to, and not because the public disapproves of his behavior, but because he wants to change. That is the only reason he should ever adjust any aspect of his personality.