Growing up in the early 2000s, Kanye West was a big part of my life.
Songs like “Stronger” and “Gold Digger” defined moments in my life and as West’s sound matured, so did I. His hip-hop classics turned into experimental melodies like “Runaway.” I was amazed at how he was able to change his sound so many times without losing fans. No matter if I liked the sound, I respected him as an artist.
Now, with his more than questionable latest release, “Jesus Is King," I am left to reflect on his music through the ages. Not only did Pitchfork give "Jesus Is King" a mere 7.2, but Twitter has rightfully turned the rating into a meme. It makes sense that the album is becoming such a joke, and it's safe to say it's West's worst album.
Here's my definitive ranking of every Kanye West album.
1. "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (2010)
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” not only has collaborators like Kid Cudi, Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj, but it also includes so many classics like “POWER,” “Monster” and my favorite song of all time: “Runaway.” Made in a time when choice hit songs aged questionably, MBDTF remains timeless.
Best song: "Runaway"*
2. "Yeezus" (2013)
There is no other way to say it: this album goes hard. This project is full of bass-heavy bangers that make you want to take a baseball bat to a TV. This is some of West’s best songwriting, and while the songs are all different, “Yeezus” still has a cohesive theme to it.
Best song: "New Slaves"
3. "The Life of Pablo" (2016)
Complete with 20 songs, “The Life of Pablo” doesn’t feel like it’s an hour long. With hits like “Famous” woven between electro-soul songs, the variety captures your full attention. “The Life of Pablo” is the perfect album to get lost in while on a long drive.
Best song: "Freestyle 4"
4. "Late Registration" (2005)
Since the release of his 21-track sophomore album, Kanye has come a long way. Shifting his sound from club-rap to a more abstract synth-beat rap, “Late Registration” reminds you of his roots. The album holds up today but still has the elements of an early 2000s album, like West’s skits between tracks and his intro “Wake Up Mr. West.” For what was coming out in 2005, it’s safe to say this album has aged well.
Best song: "Gold Digger"
5. "The College Dropout" (2004)
“The College Dropout,” West’s very first album, has a star-studded feature lineup and some absolute bangers. While there aren’t as many staple Kanye songs on this one, that’s almost what is so refreshing about it. You haven’t gotten sick of these tracks yet and you probably won’t any time soon.
Best song: "Jesus Walks"
6. "ye" (2018)
As one of West’s more recent albums, "ye" only has 7 songs to it and is 23 minutes long in total. While it is shorter in length, the content is there. “I Thought About Killing You” and “All Mine” feel like multiple songs, with intricate instrumentation and heavy lyrics. Really the only wrong with "ye" is that it begs to be longer.
Best song: "I Thought About Killing You"
7. Graduation (2007)
“Graduation,” West’s third album sounds like an extension of his prior two, “The College Dropout” and “Late Registration.” There are a few 2007 classics on this one like “Stronger” and “Good Life,” but West has definitely evolved from this era — and for the better.
Best song: "Stronger"
8. 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
Collaborating with artists like Lil Wayne and Kid Cudi set “808s & Heartbreak” up to be a hit. However, the album sounds more like West’s producers needed it to sell. If you’ve only heard “Heartless,” off this album, it’s safe to say you know what the rest of the album sounds like. Upbeat, ultra-poppy dance beats feel a bit off for West’s typical pure hip-hop or dark lyrics over abstract synth.
Best song: "Heartless"
9. "Jesus Is King" (2019)
Let’s be real, no one asked for this. Experimenting with a new sound is respectable, but after so many chart-topping albums, “Jesus Is King” was a pretty extreme and rather unexpected change for fans.
Opening the album with almost two minutes of “Every Hour” by a Sunday Service Choir set the mood. After an intro like that, there's no turning back. Every song is biblical and many, like “Selah,” incorporate a church organ and gospel singers.
West mixes the instrumentation and choir together well, but it's the concept itself that feels confusing. And I don’t think any of us were expecting an entire song about Chick-Fil-A.
Best song: "Hands On"
*best song of all time