What Makes Kanye, Kanye: an Analysis of Sound


Hannah Jordan, Staff Writer

Hated by some, praised by many, and tolerated by most, Kanye West has shown his entrepreneurial expertise by casting aside many preexisting music barriers to further sever his connections to conventional hip hop. To appreciate the ingenuity that is Kanye West, it is important to veer away from Kanye as a celebrity, and rather focus on Kanye as an artist. Any and all successful analyses of Mr. West’s music are not influenced by the vulture-like media culture which surrounds Kanye. Kanye offers a unique approach to music through unapologetic individuality backed by sampling within his music.

He is undoubtedly the most perplexing artist in the modern music industry. He will break as many rules as possible just to make his song rich in range, and he believes everything is fair game, just as long as it’s not bombastic. Kanye fills every silence with the human voice. He uniquely uses the human voice as his primary instrumental, as seen in “Runaway”. The synthesization of speech transforms the human voice into a versatile instrument- setting a deep continuous tone. This method of synthesization is uniquely applied in “Wolves”, delivering the same blend of heavy, ominous-sounding bass and the soaring howling falsetto of a choir that anchored the original track.

Kanye is one of the few artists who acknowledge that music is not a science. By prioritizing ingenuity over standing, Kanye has created a league of his own in the music industry. Seen in his 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye took on the task of transforming the (seemingly) universally-implemented hip hop song structure. The previously mentioned structure is made up of three strong components: instruments, beat, and vocals. What Kanye does most remarkably, as seen in his 9 minute song “Runaway”, is make the human voice the instrument. Through synthesizers, sampling and autotune, Kanye West has taken the three-part formula to hip hop success, and rendered it useless. Kanye’s more recent work has excelled in taking something old, and making it new. Kanye West adds meaning to what was once just sound.