On November 24, 2008, Kanye West released his fourth studio album “808s & Heartbreak.”
The 12 track project was nothing like West had released previously. And with the help of several producers including No I.D and guest appearances from the likes of Kid Cudi, Young Jeezy, and Mr. Hudson, “808s & Heartbreak” became the album that would influence generations of rappers to come.
Upon release of his album, West faced tragedy with the loss of his mother, Donda West, due to complications stemming from cosmetic surgery. A death that Kanye blames himself for and could be heard throughout the album with songs like ‘Coldest Winter.’
Months later, West and then fiancée, Alexis Phifer, ended their engagement and long-term relationship.
These two losses would set the tone for the 808, auto-tuned, and pain-filled project. And it would be the first time we hear the bar-for-bar spitting kid from Chicago express himself via melodies. And as previously stated, that would later open doors for a trend that is heard heavily throughout hip-hop today with artist such as Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, and now Juice Wrld.
As a junior in high school, 808s and Heartbreak came at perfect time for me. 2008 found 17-year-old me, barely passing classes, breaking up with my first love, and prepping to get ready for senior year and college all at the same time. And this was all aside from the drama at home.
Music has always been my go-to vice in my most trying times. And luckily for me, a friend of mine had a spare Zune mp3 player that he would lend me during our bus ride to school in the morning.
Those 30 minutes listening to that album essentially allowed me to be sad. The way I looked at it, my favorite artist was spilling his heart out without a care in the world. Who was I to be ashamed of what I was going through and to keep all that anger bottled up? It was like audio therapy. Not to mention, the intricate use of sampling—though it was minimal—was nothing short of amazing.
In honor of 808s and Heartbreak’s birthday here my top three favorite songs.
- Coldest Winter
- Street Lights
- Love Lockdown
- Paranoid ft. Mr. Hudson
- See You In My Nightmares (Lil Wayne)