808's & Heartbreak the most Groundbreaking Album of All Time?
You can turn to any true hiphop fans and they'll tell you '08 was the year hiphop changed.
Others might go as far as to say all music changed that year. To many, hiphop was facing an incredibly dull period, one that was from time to time broken by the likes of Kanye, Pharrell and other eccentric characters that were poorly received by the public for the most part. "We listened to Kanye, we just never wanted to make similar music to him" appeared to be the words the music industry were emitting. The reality here is the music industry wasn't interested in generating any more N.E.R.D's but were more content of a Yung Joc or Soulja Boy type accompanied with a catchy hook and sometimes a complementary rudimentary dance. The music industry may have underestimated the intelligence of the hiphop community, and maybe even that of the internet.
What we know of the underground hiphop of the pre-internet rapper era is very little, we were exposed to the outstanding acts like MF DOOM, Madlib among others, yet we had no real connections to the underground as it found itself localized and isolated from most of the public. Until the era of the blog. Blogs played a crucial part in not only hiphop but also music's distribution and delivery. North America saw the rise of the blog with a new subculture accompanied, the hipster. Hard to explain, the hipster had a preference to uncommon music. Underground, old school and mashed hiphop saw a big popularization during this era, 2008/2009.
On September 18th 2008, the world received Kanye West's first single off the album 808's & Heartbreak, "Love Lockdown". No one knew what to think of this new, post break up, Kanye West. This singing, auto-tuned, emotional, heart felt Yeezy we had barely seen before, came to us in shape of a single. It was strange. It was powerful. You could relate to it. You could dance to it. In short form it was different, something no one expected. Little did anyone expect it would change music as we know it. The mainstream consumers & the underground community watched in awe. The underground rejoiced at there was now a mainstream figure head generating a new sound and the mainstream eased up on the cookie cut idea of what a rapper should be. The world took to the underground to find more of this formula, they generated what the public wanted and before you know it, rappers like The Cool Kids, Blu, Charles Hamilton, Wale, Kid Cudi along with others became critically acclaimed as the new life to hiphop. Kanye gave not only gave way to new up and coming rappers to be "themselves", but also gave them a platform to follow. He broke the mold for himself and for countless artists after him as well.
Fast forward to the the present day and the risidual influences of 808's & Heartbreak are still present in music everywhere. Artists like Future or Travis $cott use the same formula Kanye laid down with his 4th album. Autotune is now a permenent feature in hiphop and music all around, well executed or not, it's here to stay. Content today is still as emotionally packed. We underestimated the very left fielded album's effects, and if delivered a permanent whip lash onto everything as we know it. But that's just our take on it. Read the outrageous claim by Rolling Stones for yourself bellow.
"Kanye West's Auto-Tune-heavy, emotionally naked fourth album came after a brutal year during which his mother died and his engagement broke up," the famed music-based magazine wrote. "But the album's cavernous sound and exposed-soul lyrics confused even those who had been aware of West's recent trials. Its core aesthetic was like nothing in Hip Hop: freshly butchered feelings enumerated in detail, but masked by digital processing; beds of spare synths used to balance a mix of singing and rapping. However, over time it served as a new template for up-and-comers in Hip Hop and R&B. Drake cited West as his budding sound's 'most influential person' when he was hustling mixtapes, while artists like Future further tweaked the idea of using Auto-Tune as a way to convey emotions that evoke too much feeling when spoken of explicitly."