The transition from hip-hop maestro to rap artist is a tough one, and not everyone can master it. But when it comes to getting down on the mic, some beatsmiths just have the gift of gab. With Kanye West making the successful leap from soulful in-house producer to one of the game’s most respected (and controversial) voices on the mic, XXL felt it only right to count down the best 10 producers turned rappers of all time in the October 2010 issue, which is on stands now.
Coming in at No. 1 is Kanye West, who as a lyricist is the total package bringing vulnerability, humor, wordplay, an MC’s arrogance and social commentary to his rhymes. Be sure to pick up the October issue to get the full write up on ‘Ye and how he earned his spot. But for now, here’s the 5 key elements of Kanye’s lyricism.
“My friend showed me pictures of his kids/And all I could show him was pictures of my cribs.” —Kanye West’s “Welcome to Heartbreak”
“She got a light-skinned friend looks like Michael Jackson/Got a dark-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson.” —Kanye West’s “Slow Jamz”
“They say ‘As-salaam alaikum,’ say ‘Walaikum assalaam’/That’s no Oscar Mayer bacon, you should run and tell your mom.” —Kanye West’s “Power (Remix)”
“Top five MCs, you ain’t gotta remind me, top five MCs, you gotta rewind me/I’m high up on the line, you could get behind me, but my head’s so big you can’t sit behind me.” —Kanye West’s “Barry Bonds”
“Over here it’s a drug trade, we die from drugs/Over there they die from what we buy from drugs.” —Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)”