YMMV / Kanye West

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The beat drop in "Blood on the Leaves". Not that there's a problem with that.
    • In the middle of "Niggas in Paris", the entire song comes to a screeching halt in order to play an excerpt of dialogue from Blades of Glory.
    • "Pt. 2" includes a section with a bunch of female synthetic voices singing over each other.
  • Broken Base:
    • Initially caused by 808s and Heartbreak, but the rift has healed since then. This hasn't really happened among the fandom with Yeezus, oddly enough- it's largely casual fans and the mainstream audience that were turned off by the album.
    • Kanye's overall demeanor. There is no denying that he is a complete and total Narcissist. But whether you find his ego endearing or insufferable is another story.
    • The Life of Pablo, so far. The complaints don't seem to be about the quality of the songs but moreso its bloated tracklist, apparent lack of construction compared to previous albums, and generally weak lyrics. Reviews have ranged from saying it's his second best album next to MBDTF, to mid-tier, to his worst yet.
  • Critical Dissonance:
    • 808's And Heartbreak was praised by many critics (even appearing on many "Best Of 2008" lists) but garnered a mixed reception from fans, who took issue with the album's heavily processed/mechanical sound and Kanye's subpar singing. Nonetheless, it gradually rose in esteem, to the point where it's now considered a fan favorite. It's also credited with setting the course for hip-hop during the late-00's and early-10's, with many rappers adopting a similar R&B/hip-hop mix and synth-heavy sound.
    • Yeezus seems to be going down the same road. It's received more acclaim than 808s & Heartbreak but the general public has been divided on its industrial influences, with some unfavorably comparing it to Death Grips. At any rate, both albums received a Love It or Hate It reception, and it's too soon to tell whether Yeezus will be as well-regarded in the long term like 808s.
  • Critical Research Failure: "Black Skinhead". 300 is a number associated not with the Romans but with the Spartans, and the Trojans were not, in fact, the enemies of Rome but of Greece.
  • Cult Classic: 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus were too bizarre to achieve much mainstream success (outside of the boost that simply being Kanye West albums gave them) but found audiences in more offbeat musical circles.
  • Ear Worm: Not so much his songs themselves but the hooks are dangerously catchy, particularly "The New Workout Plan", "The Glory", "Heard 'Em Say", "Power", and "Devil in a New Dress".
  • Ending Fatigue:
    • College Dropout's "Last Call" and Late Registration's "We Major" have this effect on some listeners after dragging these otherwise good songs for far too long. "Last Call" could've done away with the eight-minute portion of Kanye talking about how he got discovered after a great four minute song. "We Major" would've also ended stronger without the final two minutes.
    • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's "Runaway" has had a similarly polarizing reaction. You think the song's over, then Kanye plugs in the vocoder...
    • "Cold" (aka "Theraflu") also falls victim to this, with DJ Pharris shouting out pretty much every Chicago 'hood (even a few that don't exist anymore) in the final minute and killing the momentum from Kanye's verses.
    • Does Blame Game really need 3 minutes of Chris Rock talking shit about watches and a girl talking dirty? No.
    • Mercifully averted on "Lost In The World," the lengthy excerpt from "Comment #1" that caps off the song is made its own track, seperate from the song itself on the CD.
    • "Send It Up" doesn't really need a sample of Beenie Man at the end of it.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Kanye's in-house vocalists are ridiculous fuckin' ridicklisss. John Legend was able to turn his guest spots into a successful career, so the title of darkhorse belongs to Kanye's cousin Tony Williams. As Kanye says, "He sings quite beautifully, don't you agree?"
    • Non-single tracks that nonetheless remain very popular among the fandom include "Family Business," "Street Lights," "Coldest Winter," "I'm In It," "Devil in a New Dress," and "Send it Up."
    • As far as his albums go, 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus have gained cult followings, both being Vindicated by History as well as Darker and Edgier than the rest of his work.
  • Even Better Sequel: Late Registration was seen unanimously as a step up from The College Dropout, with critics especially commending its more textured production (as in not relying on samples).
  • Fountain of Memes: He was the first (and for a while, only) musician to have his own meme page.
  • Fridge Brilliance: What's up with Kanye's various attempts to rile up the religious right on Yeezus (the title, "I Am a God," etc.)? Simple: it's an Industrial Metal album, and pissing off fundamentalists is a time-honored industrial tradition. Further confirmed by the ultra-theatrical Yeezus tour.
    • A lot of people apparently didn't get that Chris Rock's skit on "Blame Game" is intended to represent what Kanye heard on the phone. When you realise this it makes the whole thing even better and gives a tragic element to what otherwise seems like a misplaced comedic skit.
    • Several reviewers noted that the unintelligible auto-tune solo in "Runaway" is probably intended to represent Kanye's difficulty in expressing himself verbally.
  • Fridge Logic: The album cover of *My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy* was a manufactured attempt by West to stir up controversy, and indeed, many digital outlets would only display a blurred version of it. However, the blurring of the image obscures the fantastic elements of it (that the woman is a harpy or (ahem) "phoenix", making it so all you can make out is a man and woman having sex, which is arguably more offensive.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In 2005, on his song "We Major", Kanye rapped "Better than some head on a Sunday afternoon/Better than a chick that say 'yes' too soon/Until you have a daughter/That's what I call 'Karma'/And you pray to God she don't grow breasts too soon". Fast forward to 2013, when he has a daughter himself...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In "Hell of a Life" (2010), he sang "I think I just fell in love with a porn star.. [..] One day I'm gon' marry a porn star..". Fast forward to 2013 and he's expecting a second child with wife Kim Kardashian.. who first got famous after a "leaked" sex tape by an ex-boyfriend.
    • "Gold Digger" also had the line "My psychic told me she'll have an ass like Serena / Trina, Jennifer Lopez", which was later fulfilled when Kanye got with Kim ("Break the Internet", anyone?).
    • Another common one related to Kim is the lyric "18 years, 18 years/She got one of your kids, got you for 18 years" from "Gold Digger" (2005); this is due to some people assuming Kim trapped Kanye with her pregnancy.
    • When asked to "humanize" himself for a Saturday Night Live skit in 2013, Kanye retorted "I ain’t runnin’ for office. I ain’t kissin’ nobody’s muthafuckin babies. I drop your baby and you muthafuckin sue me and shit." At the 2015 Video Music Awards, Kanye announced that he's running for president in 2020.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • His infamous line off of "Famous": "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous." Although it was later confirmed that Kanye included the line with Taylor's permission, there was still inevitable backlash that was galvanized by Taylor indirectly addressing the controversy in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammys when she mentioned people that would try and take credit for your success. Kim later released a video which showed that Kanye had consulted with Taylor before the line, and she had signed off of it, which drove deeper wedges between the two's fandoms.
    • Speaking of which, the "Famous" music video, which includes a number of celebrities all naked in the same bed, including Kanye, Kim, Taylor, Chris Brown, George W. Bush, Rihanna, and Donald Trump.
  • Love It or Hate It: Yeezus inspires as much passionate anger as it does intense love.
  • Memetic Mutation: Enough to warrant an entire page.
  • Narm: In his 2013 SNL performance of "New Slaves", Kanye half-heartedly censors the "nigga"s himself, resulting in him saying an odd, mumbled "nnnguh" noise.
  • Narm Charm: There are a lot of corny-as-fuck lines in Kanye's songs, but let's be honest, they're memorable for that very reason.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • In 2009 Taylor Swift won an MTV Music Award for Best Female Video. During her acceptance speech Kanye barged onto the stage and declared that Beyoncé (who also had a video nomination) had one of the greatest videos of all time. That this incident caused him to become the target of extensive mockery doesn't seem to bother him, because he did it again when Beck won the 2015 Grammy for Best Album.
    • Also notable was an incident during a Katrina benefit where he randomly blurted out "George Bush doesn't care about black people!" appropos of nothing. Mike Myers, seated next to him, looked quite embarrassed. Fortunately, it stopped after "Imma Let You Finish" happened.
    • A lot of people aren't willing to forgive him for his..er..interesting cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" at his Glastonbury 2015 set.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • One of the "Flashing Lights" videos. A Woman Scorned Yandere abducts a legitimately terrified-looking Kanye, takes him somewhere in the middle of the desert, and murders him via multiple Shovel Strikes. Oh, and The Stinger? As soon as she's done, the music abruptly stops, and we're shown nothing but a solid-black screen with blood-red text: "FLASHING LIGHTS." Yikes.
    • The video for "Monster". It contains a large number of dead women and other delightful scenes.
    • The part of "I Am A God" where the beat stops for a second so Kanye can belt out an ear-piercing scream followed by nothing but very heavy breathing. Then another scream after some punctuated silence, followed by more screaming over the distorted, heavy beat from earlier in the song.
    • "Blood on the Leaves." At first it's just slightly ominous, with Kanye singing about isolation and gold-diggers over a piano loop- nothing that hasn't been heard from him before. And then Nina Simone's voice pipes up in the background, "black bodies swinging in the southern breeze..." and it becomes clear that this is not "Gold Digger" part two.
    • This SNL perfoormance might explain why Ben Affleck seemed so scared while introducing Kanye.
    • The album covers for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy are all rather creepy looking, aside for the normal one with a grassy hill, a crown, and a sword. The other album covers are Kanye's mascot, the Dropout Bear, with multiple heads, the cover for Power is Kanye's head cut off, screaming...
  • Poor Man's Substitute: Before he blew up, Kanye was usually described as "the cheaper Just Blaze". The roles have since been reversed; you won't hear anyone calling Just a low-rent Kanye nowadays, but it's definitely a lot easier to get a beat from him than from Kanye.
    • Just Blaze produced Kanye's "Touch the Sky".
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Why yes, Kanye did have a verse on Jay-Z's "The Bounce" back on The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse.
    • Kanye also appeared in some music videos before his debut, such as Jay-Z's "Izzo (HOVA)" and Talib Kweli's "Get By".
    • For people Ye has given a Colbert Bump to who have later become well-known in their own right - Lupe Fiasco guested on Kanye's "Touch the Sky" from Late Registration.
  • Signature Song: Either "Gold Digger", "Stronger", or "Power".
    • Each album generally has a few that every hip-hop fan will instantly associate with the album
      • The College Dropout: "All Falls Down", "Jesus Walks" or "Through the Wire"
      • Late Registration: "Gold Digger", "Touch the Sky" or the remix of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone"
      • Graduation: "Stronger" or "Homecoming"
      • 808s and Heartbreak: "Heartless" or "Love Lockdown"
      • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: "Power", "Dark Fantasy", "Monster" or "Runaway"
      • Watch The Throne: "Niggas in Paris", "Otis" or "No Church in the Wild"
      • Cruel Summer: "New God Flow" or "Mercy"
      • Yeezus: "Black Skinhead" "I Am A God" "New Slaves" or "Bound 2".
  • So Bad, It's Good: The music video for "Bound 2". However, The Music Video Show doesn't seem to share think this.
    • A lot of Yeezus's lyrics wholeheartedly embrace this by taking typical rap boasts and making them as insanely over-the-top as possible, with incredibly quotable results.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Facts" is like Kanye's own remake of Drake and Future's "Jumpman".
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • The reaction to the heavily autotuned and instrumentally sparse album 808's and Heartbreak. #7 on this list.
    • Yeezus is a choppy, blaring, rough album, and may mark more of a shift in Kanye's style than even 808s. Let the Broken Base commence!
  • Tough Act to Follow: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy got ultimate reviews. Yeezus? Positive, but not to the point of MBDTF.
  • Troubled Production: After nearly three years in development, multiple title changes, singles that didn't even end up on the record, a release date which kept being pushed back, and Kanye generally waiting until the last minute to get anything done, The Life of Pablo finally saw the light of day.
  • Uncanny Valley: The video for "Black Skinhead" (or "BLKKK SKKKN HEAD") features a computer-generated Kanye that zigzags this line for the whole video.
  • Unexpected Character: Each album generally has at least one. Graduation involving Chris Martin, 808s and Heartbreak involving Lil Wayne and Cruel Summer involving Ma$e probably take the biscuit though.
    • The College Dropout had DeRay Davis as the principal, poet J.Ivy on "Never Let Me Down" and Jamie Foxx on "Slow Jamz".
    • Late Registration had DeRay Davis (again), Lupe Fiasco ("Touch The Sky" was his breakthrough), Adam Levine of Maroon 5, and - a major surprise considering Jay-Z was in a major feud with him at the time - Nas.
    • Graduation had Chris Martin, and — dependent on how you viewed Kanye's music at the time — T-Pain.
    • 808s and Heartbreak had Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy, who despite both being involved in the production of Graduation, few expected to feature on a breakup album.
    • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had Justin Vernon of indie rock band Bon Iver (who few had even heard of at the time, let alone knew what to expect from them).
    • Watch the Throne featured Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield (both posthumously), alongside Elly Jackson of La Roux and Frank Ocean of OFWGKTA fame. It also featured Swizz Beatz, to the chagrin of a sizable portion of West's fanbase.
    • Cruel Summer had most of its cast like this. R. Kelly, Marsha Ambrosius, Chief Keef, Jadakiss, MA$E... Few expected these collaborations.
    • Yeezus involves Chicago rappers Chief Keef and King Louie, Daft Punk, Justin Vernon, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, Evian Christ, and techno producers Brodinski and Gesaffelstein. West even used several of these people in unexpected ways, such as Chief Keef singing the hook on "Hold My Liquor", and Daft Punk basically producing horror sounds for "Black Skinhead" and "I Am a God".
    • Kanye himself is this on GOOD Music labelmate Pusha T's "Hold On." Despite being uncredited, his incomprehensible, autotuned moaning is a big part of the beat.
  • Vindicated by History: People have been a lot kinder to 808s and Heartbreak after the success of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy proved that Kanye knew damn well what he was doing the whole time. It also doesn't hurt that it's Kanye's most influential album by far, more or less single-handedly reinventing the modern R&B scene and influencing artists like The Weeknd, Drake and J Cole.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?:
    • Among other things in the film for Runaway, the dinner party scene has exclusively black guests with white servants.
    • The video for "Black Skinhead" is either this or full of Faux Symbolism.
  • The Woobie: Dropout Bear is portrayed as this in the video for "Good Morning", as he has a hard time trying to not be late for his college graduation ceremony, including his car breaking down, having to contend with a long line for the bus, missing the bullet train and being inexplicably eaten by a cloud monster.

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