2. KANYE WEST
By: Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
As Kanye West’s music has grown in scope, so has his outsized personality: He’s one of the world’s most admired—and controversial—pop stars because even when writing his wrongs he refuses to be penned in. Years before he left jaws ajar with his game-changing debut, The College Dropout, when his penchant for wedding soul-raising hooks with trunk-rattling beats landed him in the liner notes for some of rap’s most illustrious, it was clear West was bigger than the MPC. But he may have even surprised himself with his remarkable evolution into Auto-Tuned love songs, neon-lit dance tracks, dark twisted fantasies and greatest-to-have-ever-done-it conversations. With a 360-degree vision, half the excitement of Yeezy’s forays into fashion, fine art, and freaky videography is seeing where he’ll take himself (and us) next. He’s already relocated the heir to rap’s throne to Chicago.
Pete Rock, producer, says:
“I think Kanye took inspiration from how to dress as a man and applied it to music: He’s dressing music in a way where it’s creative and undeniable. You never know what to expect from him; he’s displayed an ear for hip-hop, R&B and pop, then mixed all three together. That’s pure talent. He’s at the top of his MC game, as well. He actually asked me to rhyme on “The Joy,” but I knew I’d have to step my game up tremendously. What he brought to the table was something to admire. He definitely put the battery back in my back.”