Kanye West has become the biggest star in hip-hop, with each one of the five Kanye West albums becoming even more of an anticipated event. The five Kanye West albums released thus far span the breadth of what hip-hop has to offer, from party tracks to self-reflective soul songs to political and religious statements. Here are the five Kanye West albums released thus far, as well as some of their highlights.
- "The College Dropout." Kanye's debut album was not his first turn in the spotlight; before any Kanye West albums were released, he was already a renowned producer and beatmaker for artists like Jay-Z, having worked on the classic "Blueprint" album. His first album is full of his early hallmarks, with sped-up soul samples and lush orchestrations making up the backdrop for his workmanlike rhymes. The album's highlights include the thoughtful "All Falls Down," an examination of materialism in hip-hop, and "Two Words," a rousing MC showcase for guests Freeway and Mos Def.
- "Late Registration." The second of the Kanye West albums came out a year after his 2004 debut. It features many of the same hallmarks as the debut, more of a perfection of style than a progression. The hit "Gold Digger" was this album's standout cut.
- "Graduation." The third of the Kanye West albums released thus far completes the cycle started with "College Dropout," but adds some more progressive elements to his sound. Tinkling synths drive album standout "Flashing Lights," and a strong European blog-house element is present on many tracks, not least of which is the Daft Punk-sampling "Stronger."
- "808s & Heartbreak." Kanye moves away from hip-hop almost entirely on the fourth of the Kanye West albums, singing in autotune over synth-pop beats. While "Love Lockdown" was a strong song and a hit, this is by far the weakest of the Kanye West albums released to date.
- "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." After "808s & Heartbreak," the last of the Kanye West albums to be released thus far, 2010's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," is a huge step-up, and maybe his best album yet. Mixing the synth-pop style of the previous album with new, art-rock elements, and alternating between rapping and singing, Kanye has emerged as a unique and formidable artist, both on the mic and on the boards. The King Crimson-sampling "POWER" is one of his best tracks to date, and the lengthy album version of "Runaway" is one of his most powerfully personal.