808s ‘Most Groundbreaking Album’?
It’s definitely a bold statement, but one you can certainly make an argument for.
RollingStone just listed Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak as the ‘most groundbreaking album of all-time.’
OF ALL TIME!
(Sorry, had to add that.)
But the case is basically about how influential it was for a rapper to utilize autotune as a new instrument and add to the “emotionally naked” revealing lyrics. I like that phrase for this album, and recall vividly its impact when I listened to 808s over and over again in the coldest winter of 2008.
There’s a case, but what does the title really mean? It was groundbreaking period. Moreso than we imagined at the time as fans like myself came around over time.
Here’s an excerpt:
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, 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.