5) Kanye Is Brilliant At Utilizing Talent
Not since the prime ‘90s era of Dr. Dre has a hip-hop producer mastered the art of orchestration. On his monumental albums The Chronic and Chronic 2001, Andre Young tapped into the greatness of a stable of MC’s (D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Lady of Rage, RBX, Eminem, Jay-Z, Devin The Dude, and Xzibit), musicians and vocalists (Colin Wolfe, Scott Storch, Mike Elizondo and Nate Dogg) and production talents (Daz, Mel-Man, and Lord Finesse). Like Dre, Kanye West understands that having A-list talent on your album does not simply translate to stellar material. Which is why his various collaborations over the years with a diverse range of acts—Twista and Jamie Foxx (“Slow Jamz,” “Goldigger”); Rhymefest (“Jesus Walks”); Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (“Heard Em’ Say”); Lupe Fiasco (“Touch The Sky”); Brandy (“Bring Me Down”); and Young Jeezy (“Amazing”)—has never seemed forced.
But West’s most impressive display as a studio ringleader so far has been his meticulous overseeing of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With a murderer’s row of guests that includes Rick Ross, RZA, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Charlie Wilson, Kid Cudi, Mike Dean, Elton John, John Legend, Bon Iver, Pusha T and frequent collaborator Jon Brion, often times you blink before realizing that a group effort is even taking place.
AOL’s Tracey Ford specifically points to Nicki Minaj’s star-turn on the fan favorite “Monster” as proof of West’s savvy musical instincts. “When you listen to Nicki on ‘Monster,’ it’s clear that Kanye allowed her to shine on his own track,” Ford says. “He knew well enough to put her on the song and let her totally take it. I don’t think Kanye did it just because Nicki had a lot of buzz. That’s just him being a great producer and knowing what fits.”
However, New York Times scribe Jon Caramanica says it helps that the forward-thinking West capitalizes on his superstar status. “Here is where it helps to be [extremely] rich and famous,” he explains. “Because you can be in the room one day and say, ‘Hey, I really think Rick Ross would sound good on this one part.’ 24 hours later, Rick Ross is in your studio. But the thing about Kanye is he’s not bringing these people in to necessarily make him sound better. It doesn’t sound like a bunch of guest appearances. Kanye is bringing them in because he has a genuine fundamental understanding and respect for what they do. Even if you are just hearing someone for just four bars, you know that’s the most thought through four bars that they could have done.”