For those of you who haven’t heard by now, Rolling Stones Magazine released a list titled “40 Most Groundbreaking Albums Of All Time” and Mr. Kanye West nabbed the number one spot with his 2008 “808’s & Heartbreak” album. I know most are thinking “WTF, why that album of all his albums?” Well, once you sit and dissect the album and see what’s inside of it, you’ll realize why it indeed deserved to be on the list.
“808’s & Heartbreak” was released November 28th 2008. It was his fourth LP following his critically acclaimed 2007 “Graduation” album that was shy a million copies it’s first week out. “808’s” was full of emotion, and heavily accompanied by auto-tuned. The album was recorded following a series of events that took place in West’s life over the previous year. From losing his mother Donda West, to his broken engagement with his long-time girlfriend, to him struggling with newfound fame and star status,West stated “This album was therapeutic – it’s lonely at the top”
The album was full of all the right ingredients for a perfect album. Mixing love, heartache and loneliness over perfectly created beats, was genius to the winning recipe. Although the album was looked at side-ways by his fans at first, the album did received positive reviews from critics. “808’s” still debuted at number one moving 450,145 units opening week. It went on to produce four singles including the hits “Love Lockdown” & “Heartless,” along with fan favorites “Coldest Winter,” “Street Lights,” & “Robocop.” In addition, “808’s” found itself as one of the best albums of 2008 on a lot of year-end lists.
Rolling Stones stated…“Kanye West’s Auto-Tune-heavy, emotionally naked fourth album came after a brutal year during which his mother died and his engagement broke up, but the album’s cavernous sound and exposed-soul lyrics confused even those who had been aware of West’s recent trials. Its core aesthetic was like nothing in hip-hop: freshly butchered feelings enumerated in detail, but masked by digital processing; beds of spare synths used to balance a mix of singing and rapping. However, over time it served as a new template for up-and-comers in hip-hop and R&B. Drake cited West as his budding sound’s “most influential person” when he was hustling mixtapes, while artists like Future further tweaked the idea of using Auto-Tune as a way to convey emotions that evoke too much feeling when spoken of explicitly.”
Kanye showcased a great level of bravery with “808’s & Heartbreak” by veering away from his recognizable soulful-sampling sound that ushered him into stardom. Releasing an album full of electro-pop where he’s singing more than rapping was courage at it’s best. The LP will forever be a game changing album, and one of the first to mix genres together so beautifully. Of course you can only get and expect this from a man who said, “Everything I’m not, made me everything I am.”