808s & Heartbreak: Welcome to Heartbreak

808s & Heartbreak is the prelude to what hip-hop music would become in the late 2000s into the 2010s. Kanye West created the album out of sorrow and sadness of his failed relationships and the passing of his mother Donda West. These factors drove a young Kanye to branch out and break the norms he had previously set within his previous albums. 808s & Heartbreak is a pop album through and through, however, it is forged by one of the most prominent rappers of all time. By combining his multifarious knowledge of writing and producing along with an inner desire and passion to express himself, Kanye West changed the face of hip-hop forever with 808s & Heartbreak.

Before 808s & Heartbreak, there had been emotional albums and songs from the hip-hop genre, however, none of them could surmount the narrative that Kanye West culminated in 2008. Before 808s & Heartbreakrappers such as 2Pac, Eminem, and Geto Boys were at the forefront when it came to emotional rap until the end of 2008. Kanye West set out to express himself and his feelings on the album and that is exactly what 808s & Heartbreak is. By switching his singing with auto-tune, Kanye set the guidelines for the future of hip-hop. Kanye West would even seek out T-Pain for advice on the program. Since Kanye West took this simple yet polished approach to auto-tune, his influence has remained fully intact over the years.

Kanye West decided that in addition to capitalizing on the capabilities of auto-tune, he would also prominently feature the Roland TR-808 drum machine that is referenced in the title of the album. By combining auto-tune and Roland TR-808 drum machine, Kanye West gave his fourth outing a chance to be one of the most sui generis albums in his entire career. Not only would this album be a talking point amongst fans and critics, but it also gave hip-hop a new sound to explore. There is a reason why so many artists in the musician industry have cited Kanye West as a major influence on their sound, style, and career since he first released The College Dropout in 2004. Kanye West isn’t afraid to take chances when it comes to his art and image. While he’s notoriously known for his interruption of Taylor Swift, sporadic rants, and odd views in regards to politics they never once have jeopardized his career in art, music, and fashion. Kanye West knows that his idiosyncratic choices in regards to his behavior and career will be rewarded with attention and profit. However, 808s and Heartbreaks wasn’t about the attention or the profit. 808s and Heartbreaks was about expression through his dark times leading up to its release.

While he was definitely a rising star at this point in his career, he wasn’t always jubilant. Shortly after Graduation was released in 2007, his mother and muse passed away from coronary artery disease following plastic surgery. Donda West was not only Kanye’s mother but also his biggest supporter. Kanye West appointed her as his first manager once he became serious about pursuing a career in the music industry. Donda West not only gave the world Kanye West, but she also gave Kanye the opportunity to achieve success. With Donda West playing such a crucial and supportive role in Kanye’s life, her passing was devastating. After this damaging and unfortunate loss, Kanye West would suffer again just five months later when his engagement was called off with Alexis Phifer. Losing the two most important women in his life at that time had a profound effect on Kanye West moving forward. After loss and heartbreak, Kanye had more than enough reason to create 808s & Heartbreaks.

As Kanye West was on track to be the mega-celebrity that he is today, he quickly realized that it wasn’t entirely what he thought it would be. In order to achieve his success, Kanye West would inevitably have to lose those that meant the most to him. As Kanye’s career was about to spike with the release of songs such as “Love Lockdown”, “Heartless”, and “Amazing” he had lost all that he cared for. From 2007 until the release of 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West’s life was seemingly ruined. Everything Kanye West knew and loved was wiped out from existence within four years of starting his music career. Kanye West did what any capable musician would do and channeled his loss to create an album that can resonate with everyone. Everyone in life will suffer loss until eventually suffering one’s own, however, it is what we do with this heartbreak that conveys humanity unlike anything else. Whether it’s changing one’s ways, honoring promises of those who were lost, or making a piece of art we all have a way to cope through the sorrow and sadness. Heartbreak is a guarantee in life, but for Kanye West, he used the loss of the two women he loved the most to escalate his career and become one of the biggest names in the world.

 

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XXXTentacion (1998-2018)

XXXTentacion was murdered yesterday and I believe that he was a great and talented musician, controversy aside. I’ve done a few pieces on him in the past and decided to combine into this post as a tribute and farewell to the musician. I understand he may not have been the best person or even a “good” person but one cannot say he wasn’t an important musician and influence on modern music. Here is all of my previous work on XXXTentacion. I would like to thank individuals such as Andrew, Terrell, Brandy, Alex M., and Keiyana for getting me into and reminding me of the importance and influence that  XXXTentacion had.

Expression (August 28, 2017)

Music is an ever-changing art; always adapting to reflect the thoughts and feelings of the creator. More recently, we’ve seen musicians be more open with themselves and their true feelings on the record and off. Having a musician open up about their lives and hardships makes them more relatable and gives their fans a physical-being to resonate with instead of an abstract piece of art.

The means of expression through music is across every genre because it is needed to connect with those who listen to the art. Chester Bennington was one of the musicians who were always more open about his life than others, which lead to his music becoming more of a representation of feelings rather than pure thought. With his recent passing, it is plausible to see how his music could serve as his vessel for expression of feelings and possible cry for help. This unfortunate loss is another reminder that just because someone is rich and famous, it doesn’t equate to happiness.

More recently, rappers have come forward and have used their talent to express how they really feel about their private life and public life. XXXTentacion has become one of the newest artists to be expressive, sincere, and open with his fans through music. Even if these larger-than-life musicians may live far from ordinary lives, they still face common problems. These problems could range anywhere from depression, heartbreak or simply not knowing what their purpose in life is. These topics are just a few of the many that these musicians share with their fans and the rest of the world.

This month saw the release of XXXTentacion’s debut album 17, this 22-minute project is the pinnacle of expression for an artist of his stature. The album whilst short provides hours upon hours of content to dwell on after the first listen. This album directly aims for the heart and mind when it comes to lyricism; each song sets out to tell a story and seek a resolution within their two or three-minute duration. The biggest strength of this album is the telling of pure emotion and heartfelt pain that is evidently presented through this medium to help educate and inform his fans of not only his own pain but to show that it is acceptable to speak openly about personal issues.

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Musicians with this talent to create art reflective of their thoughts is what makes the genre worth listening to. Artists like XXXTentacion are leading the way for a new generation of rapper’s, this new generation is paving for a new style by simply telling the cold-hearted truth about their problems. With every music release seeming more like a therapy appointment between the artist and listener, it is easy to see why this format works as much as it does. Anyone can write lines about their day and how they feel but it takes a certain degree of devotion to transform the bars to emotion-provoking songs.

The genre of rap has seen many bright and talented members over the years and continues to grow in size, impact, and talent every day; but this decade has seen the rise of some of the brightest and most promising individuals of all time. The key to their success is their dedication to the expression of their thoughts and feelings especially those thoughts that reflect the current state of social issues in the world. The expression of emotion is the most important factor when making music and needs to be exploited for the sake of creating beautiful works of art.

Expression Pt. 2 – ? (March 16, 2018)

One of the more controversial figures of modern music has made his intentions clear with his newest album titled ?. XXXTentacion has had a rough start whether it be from Drake, legal issues, or even betrayal. Even with a bumpy origin and difficult career, XXXTentacion has been creating some of the most out-there music lately. His unique take on music has seen him ranging from aggressive to sad often, however, on ? his full potential is realized. XXXTentacion is arguably one of the most talented musicians in modern music, but why?

XXXTentacion originally got famous off of “Look At Me”, which is a very abrasive and aggressive track that many people celebrated especially during his time spent incarcerated. Following his release, he released 17 which became yet another large topic of discussion. People were confused when they heard this aggressive rapper making slow, sad, and thought-provoking music which stemmed from depression and obsession. 17 was a turning point in his career as it not only showed his versatility, it also showed his true feelings and thoughts. These thoughts are quite saddening and hint at an internal struggle of love and hate for those he cares about. The album introduced us to a new side of XXXTentacion one that would be fully explored on ?.

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The album is a further indoctrination into the mind, heart, and soul of XXXTentacion. This album is far from rap, as it has a very slow and angsty sound. XXXTentacion steps out of his comfort zone and crosses the genre line especially on songs like “NUMB” and “Changes”. is XXXTentacion showing his true intent and feelings, while still keeping his signature style intact at times. The sound of ? is rare as it has hardly been seen coming from an artist who started their career in rap. Lil Peep and Trippie Redd are roughly the only comparative musicians that come to mind when discussing this sound. The alternative nature of ? what makes it work so well, the sound is refreshing yet powerful.

In 18 tracks, XXXTentacion accomplishes what many artists can’t. invokes emotion from the deepest depths of one’s psyche. shows the grim reality of life through deep lyrics and slow beats. XXXTentacion has departed from his rap roots on ? and I hope this transition continues to see the light of day. With each release, XXXTentacion is slowly dissipating music norms as he continues to put out another high-quality album that deviates from the standard trap sound that modern rap has fallen into.

10 Best Albums of 2018 (1/1-3/22) (March 22, 2018)

XXXTentacion delivers his heart and soul on his second album, ?. This album is a great way to start off the year for XXXTentacion and continues to solidify his authenticity for being one of the more influential artists of this modern age. ? benefits from the range and versatility that XXXTentacion has to offer. Songs like “I Don’t Even Speak Spanish Lol” wouldn’t normally be seen in this context nor would it even be good, however, XXXTentacion has cracked this formula on ?. With 17 and ? under his belt, XXXTentacion has had an impressive run over the past two years and I doubt we will be seeing him slow down anytime soon.

Expression Pt. 4 – Billie Eilish

Standing out and making a statement has always been essential when it comes to being a successful musician, however, expressing yourself through art is not an easy process. It is important to maintain a direct link to your roots and knowing what your real identity is. It is critical to act with the most humanistic intentions when attempting to create a new identity to introduce to the world. This ideology is exactly what Billie Eilish did two years ago at the age of 14. Billie Eilish is now 16 and currently expressing herself to her fullest extent with every song release that comes out. But what makes her so great? Billie Eilish allows her soul and mind to flourish and in the process creates otherworldly hit songs in the process

Billie Eilish released her debut EP titled Don’t Smile at Me in 2017 and since then her career has skyrocketed. Her unique and distinctive semi-revival of electropop can easily be linked to her success. Electropop has always been a venue for artists to express themselves, whether it be Madonna or LMFAO all have found success by taking this genre to a new level. The sound that Billie Eilish produces is perhaps the epitome of being individualistic in nature. She can be compared to Lana Del Rey’s unparalleled sound, yet there’s too much artistic freedom being articulated to actually draw a direct comparison between the two wonderful musicians. At the age of 16, Billie Eilish has accomplished what many dream of doing in a whole lifetime. This is purely due in part to her idea to capitalize on her talents and put herself out there for the world to judge. At the end of the day, Billie Eilish is a young woman who’s continuously breaking new ground and exploring all routes of her expressive capabilities, however, what makes her so special?

Being 16 isn’t the easiest stage of life as its commonly filled with drama and judgment, however, that’s exactly what Billie Eilish knows and exploits. The mind of a 16-year-old is intriguing, to say the least, and that’s what makes her music stand out from the other Electropop musicians of the past. By filling her music with honesty she is able to effectively capture what it’s like to be young in 3-4 minutes. Once you take her music and combine it with a rebellious personality you’ll find that Billie Eilish utterly can’t be fully compared to any other artist. Her personality is absolutely the most important factor of her music.

Billie Eilish is young and doesn’t have many responsibilities; once again this is something she seeks to actively take advantage of. Her careless and idiosyncratic character perfectly captures the idea of youth. This image that she’s perfected is possible because of trends and lack of experience when it comes to handling fame. Throwing money at all of the designer brands tends to be the trend these days for young successful acts, and Billie Eilish is no different. Her fashion statement alone is enough to draw you in without even needing to hear her music first. This rebellious nature that she exerts is precisely what allows her image to maintain credibility. Today’s youth typically spends irrational amounts of money on clothes and cosmetics even if they don’t have the funds to continuously keep doing so. Whether or not Billie Eilish has these funds is a question that can be answered when you look at her 51 million Spotify streams. Nonetheless, Billie Eilish is and will be an icon for this upcoming generation to look up to.

It doesn’t matter if she can retain her fame within the next few years; Billie Eilish has already imprinted her character onto the minds of many. I for one didn’t even know who she was until a week ago, now I can’t get enough of her. I hope to see her go far and stay in the spotlight for many more years to come because she’s one of the few young musicians who I believe deserves her fame. If you’re hesitant about listening to Billie Eilish after reading this, I must truly recommend the song “lovely”.”lovely” features Khalid to create a beautiful song that surely will make you think twice about this new generation and what they’re capable of.

If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!