Stevie G: Kudos for Kanye in hip-hop career

The appearance together of music rivals Kanye West and Drake was a much-hyped event, and Ye is still arguably the most important figure in hip-hop, says Stevie G in his Downtown column
Stevie G: Kudos for Kanye in hip-hop career

Drake and Kanye West at a Free Larry Hoover benefit show that took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The recent appearance together in concert of music rivals Kanye West and Drake was an eagerly awaited much-hyped event. It wasn’t so long ago that the two rap heavyweights were at each others throats, and in recent years both have traded insults any time when they have released parallel projects.

These were also years where Kanye had come up with some indefensible stuff, but he seems to be in a good place right now and this event proved to be a celebration of hip-hop. Drake has taken over when it comes to streams and sales, but ultimately Kanye’s legacy is far greater, and last week he proved once again that’s he’s got one of the greatest catalogues in modern music history.

The concert itself was a Free Larry Hoover benefit show that took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was the first show Kanye has headlined in five years.

“I believe this event will not only bring awareness to our cause, but prove to people everywhere how much we can accomplish when we lay our pride aside and come together,” he said in a statement.

Healing is certainly a theme of the moment, and it wasn’t only Kanye’s outbursts regarding the likes of Donald Trump that have been talking points.

This concert came on the back of Kanye’s split from his wife, and very quickly after the huge Astroworld tragedy involving Travis Scott, a regular collaborator of both of these rappers.

Overall, Kanye seems to be in a good place at the moment. Donda has been widely acclaimed as being a return to form (in my opinion his last few more Christian orientated albums remain under-rated), and he has been squashing beefs even before the Drake one. He followed the Free Hoover gig with a memorable performance alongside Future a few days later, and it seems that he’s hungry for more. His performance at the Colisuem was a timely reminder to anyone who ever doubted his legacy though. Even a hit maker like Drake didn’t stand a chance with matching Ye, who’s cultural impact on hip-hop and music has been enormous.

He has changed the face of hip-hop a number of times, and there’s not many other artists can say that. He ushered in a whole signature sound as a producer and artist before flipping it completely a couple of times, particularly on the mighty 808s & Heartbreak, an album unfairly dismissed by some at the time, but an album that grows more influential year on year.

Lots of his best musical moves have been misunderstood at the time and the whole ‘Sunday Service’ project is another which is testament to his vision. Donda, like many of his later albums, has one or two moments which aren’t to my own liking, but it’s still full of bangers and it’s still got everybody talking in 2021.

Twenty years ago Kanye was trying to enter the game as an artist himself through making beats for others, but he was never gonna be a threat to those same rappers who ruled rap back then.

If there was a new album by Jay Z or Eminem in 2022 it would probably get less coverage than another Ye one and the Chicago rapper has managed to always remain current too, in a music genre where older artists are usually pushed to the side for fun.

Look at all of today’s current artists who are lining up to work with Kanye or perform with him.

He’s still box office and his ear for music remains really strong. There’s some more great music coming from him too I’d imagine and I’m sure the acclaim he’s got lately will motivate him to make more.

All of this is taking place at a time when his fashion Empire has got bigger and bigger and that too was ridiculed when he first spoke of it. His last few months promoting Donda has been interspersed with lots of trips to Europe and elsewhere doing his other work, and his energy levels seem to be much greater than they were during some of the darker days a few years ago. Drake and many of his peers can only look on.

He’s not the greatest rapper in the world (I’ll pick Kendrick) but Ye is still arguably the most important figure in hip-hop 20 years or so into his career.

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