Kayne West is quite possibly one of the most influential artists in the evolution of hip hop. This is because he broke the barriers set by the gangster era that came before him. Kayne found new ways to change the genres view, sound, and reputation. He consistently found new ways to keep the music new and fresh while also allowing it to keep its integrity. He allowed the music to not stray too far from its roots, but let it get far enough away from them for the genre to gain back some credibility and gain new listeners who had grown tired of the gangster lifestyle constantly playing on their radios. He reinvented hip hop as we know it.
One of the many ways Kayne influence hip hop was how he was one of the first to actually sing instead of rap and to talk about emotional things such as death and heartbreak while being sincere and real. He did this on his fourth album “808s and Heartbreak” which was produced in 2008. Some of the inspiration for this album came from the death of his mother in 2007, and ending his engagement to Alexis Phifer. While dealing with these losses he was trying to adjust to being famous all his own. This album was a way for him to express his loss and loneliness. On this album he used hip hop beats with autotune and sincere lyrics. This combination took hip hop to a place no one had ever seen. It broadened the appeal and set new standards to being ‘real’ within the hip hop genre. He showed the world that rappers can have feelings and there is not a need to be constantly tough because emotions make art.
“808s & Heartbreak” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 450,145 copies in its first week. By 2013, it had sold 1.7 million copies in the United States. The first song the album, “Say you will” is very obviously his response to the breakup with his fiance. This song can be seen below. This is unlike most songs in the hip hop genre because it is sung and has a show low key rhythm that does not overpower the lyrics. the emphasis is put on what he is saying which is how he feels. It is works like these that have made Kayne a king of modern day Hip Hop for showing how many different sides and shapes the genre can take.