Yeezy Rankings

In my second post, I aim to do the Unthinkable: rank the Yeezy albums.

First, some ground rules: “Watch the Throne” and “Kids See Ghosts” will be included in this ranking, as he was involved in every track from a vocals/production standpoint. I am going to rank them on the following 3 criteria, followed by an overall ranking:

  • Lyrics: At their best, Kanye’s lyrics are clever and though provoking. At their worst, they have the potential to start world wars on Twitter (Also sometimes they are both).
  • Production Value: His production has always been the gold standard, but there are some true grails in his work, while some of his beats/instrumentals are a bit less earth-shattering.
  • Experimentation: Ye has flipped the hip hop genre on its head multiple times. How far did he push boundaries with each release?
  • Overall: The combination of all of these rankings adjusted for my own bias.

This is going to be a long and arduous process (until Kim gets to town). I am also hoping to gather some data in this quest, so please fill out your own rankings by clicking this link. I will write up another post breaking down these survey results later this month. Now let’s get started.

My Rankings

Lyrics

  1. Late Registration
    Brilliant combination of conscious and clever, with classic verses on tracks like “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” and “Gone”
  2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Introspective and confident bars reflecting his self-acceptance as a “Monster” for better or worse
  3. College Dropout
    Took the world by storm by with tracks like “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks” depicting the dichotomy between his actions and ideals
  4. Graduation
    Stadium rock hooks and verses that inspire without saying too much
  5. Watch the Throne
    Two icons going bar for bar describing their much deserved success
  6. Kids See Ghosts
    Details the rise from the ashes of drug addiction with plenty of psychedelic influences
  7. Yeezus
    Some surprise gem verses on the otherwise sparse album on “New Slaves” and  “Blood on the Leaves”
  8. ye
    Some thoughtful lyrics about his mental health issues, but offers no inights into his recent outrageous political takes
  9. 808s and Heartbreak
    More of a pop album with the lyrical content to match
  10. The Life of Pablo
    The Taylor line is pointless shock-value, and “Facts” is peak pettiness

Production Value

  1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    Dark, symphonic production with collaborators from every spectrum of music
  2. Graduation
    Bright pop and soul samples and  to uplift anyone
  3. College Dropout
    Classic chipmunk soul beats that made him famous to start
  4. Kids See Ghosts
    Grungy psych rock beats with Curt Cobain samples mixed in throughout
  5. Watch the Throne
    Luxury and opulence with EDM influences
  6. Late Registration
    Soul and gospel influences give this a church-like feel
  7. 808s and Heartbreak
    Pop music with plenty of synths and autotune
  8. ye
    Tight production with “Ghost Town” as the main standout
  9. Yeezus
    stripped down beats with highly augmented vocals
  10. The Life of Pablo
    Made no attempt to change the Pandas beat of Stretch my Hands Pt. 2, barely changed the Jumpman beat for Facts, and had a totally cheesy a Capella track

Experimentation

  1. Yeezus
    Spawned dozens of copycat dark, minimalist, brooding heavily-autotuned artists
  2. 808s and Heartbreak
    Simultaneously pushed boundaries in hip hop and pop music
  3. Graduation
    Anthem rock meets hip hop with spectacular results
  4. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    The result of a self imposed banishment to Hawaii as an explanation for his outrageousness
  5. Kids See Ghosts
    A spacey joint album that highlights the strength of each collaborator
  6. Watch the Throne
    Brought together two of the biggest names in hip hop overseas in over-the-top recording sessions
  7. ye
    A tribute to his ongoing familial and mental health struggles
  8. The Life of Pablo
    An iterative album (still unfinished) with a spastic rollout
  9. College Dropout
    Our first taste of Kanye’s sound and lyrical style
  10. Late Registration
    A perfectly executed hip hop album

Overall

  1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
    The best album I’ve ever heard
  2. Graduation
    Non-stop hip hop anthems that always inspire (“Stadium Status”)
  3. College Dropout
    The launch point in a classic career
  4. Kids See Ghosts
    A perfect mesh of styles over matching production
  5. Late Registration
    A classical approach leading to a classic album
  6. Watch the Throne
    The epitome of luxury and excellence
  7. 808s and Heartbreak
    An adventurous concept that had some real strengths but lacked polish
  8. Yeezus
    A minimalist concept that required a higher degree of execution
  9. ye
    An album that did not deliver on its promises to explain his outbursts
  10. The Life of Pablo
    Half baked lyrics and production

That was tough. I know I don’t have all the answers Sway, so please let me know what you think I’m missing out on, and be sure to fill out your own rankings here.

 

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