by Leo Sipowicz
142 songs, 9 hours and 6 minutes (not including Kon the Louis Vuitton Don and the Freshman Adjustment mixtapes). Kanye West’s discography is extensive but not massive considering the almost 15 years it spans. Every album is unique and holds a special spot in my heart, but the effect of listening to each album in its entirety—starting with College Dropout and ending with KIDS SEE GHOSTS—gave me a new perspective on Yeezus himself.
After a careful listen to each album, I think most listeners will see three pretty distinct ways to group the albums based on the content of each album. These are as follows:
“Hurt and Reflection Period” (808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and The Life Of Pablo)
I think these three albums are the weakest connection I've made, but I definitely think the connection is still strong. Each album in this group feels like a therapy session with Kanye: he is processing his pain, success, and family. Each album is more sonically creative than the last; these albums cross genres and were each incredibly influential to the music industry as a whole. These albums are all where Kanye has been the most creative with the production with a softer focus on lyricism.
“College Period” (The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Gradation)
The “College Period” is the most in-your-face connection between albums, as they were released in chronological order and share obviously connected titles. Each album is explicitly connected via Kanye’s reflections on college and his own experience. However, each album shares much more deep-seated connections as well. Many of the themes discussed in these albums are rooted in Kanye’s early belief that the world and the people around him want him to lose. As you move through each album Kanye is able to reconcile his decision to drop out even though it's not what his mother wanted and as each album made a bigger name for himself he ends graduation in a good place with his decision.
“Yeezy Period” (Yeezus, Ye, and Yahandi)
The “Yeezy Period” is easily my favorite storyline between multiple Kanye albums, and, even though Yahandi still hasn't been released, I think it has the most potential. Yeezus is as boastful as Kanye gets, and it places him in his own world where he has decided that he is a god. Everything about the album is over-the-top: he knows he is the best and feels godly. Five years later, Kanye releases Ye. Ye matches Yeezus step-for-step in self-reflection, but instead of being arrogant and self-absorbed, Ye is Kanye's admission to being only human. Kanye reflects on the unique failures and success of his life that make him human. I think it’s safe to guess that Yahandi will be similar to Ye and Yeezus with a more humble and caring perspective.
These descriptions are purposefully short and vague because I think everyone with a vague inclination to Kanye should listen to each album on their own and interpret his art in there own way. If I were you, I would listen in this order: The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, The Life Of Pablo, Yeezus, Ye, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Yahandi, Watch The Throne, KIDS SEE GHOSTS. (Or in chronological order.) I also want to mention that KIDS SEE GHOSTS and Watch The Throne are not included in any of my groups because they are collaborations with Kid Cudi and Jay-Z, respectively, and, in my opinion, do not connect to any other albums.