The best thing about music is that it is entirely subjective. A type of sound to one person may be more enjoyable than to another person. With lots of artists to choose from with a wide variety of different styles, the decision on who could be the best artist of all time is nearly impossible. Even finding the best musician from the last 20 years is difficult, but it can be narrowed down by looking at a lot of different factors. You have bands like Coldplay and Radiohead, who became well known in the early 2000s for making alternative rock music, but never fell off the radar in terms of relevancy or production. You have pop artists like Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, who have sold millions of albums over the years and have gained huge followings. Hip hop artists like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Frank Ocean have delivered insightful projects that have paved the way for new artists to create new music. Of course, not everyone will agree on the musicians I chose, but the great thing about music is that there is no unanimous greatest musician.
It is easy for people to advocate for their favorite musician or musical group, but acknowledging the greatness of an artist that is not your favorite indicates success, which is why I mention Kanye West. Since 2004, Kanye West has released 10 studio albums, created a dozen unreleased mixtapes, and produced over 150 albums for other artists like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Future, and Travis Scott. His musical accomplishments are often in the shadows of his controversial personality, but if you can separate the artist from their art you can really see how great he is for his musical ability. For the last 18 years, nine out of 10 of West’s albums have peaked at the number one position on the Billboard top 200 albums list, a feat which not many musicians haven’t been able to accomplish. Eight out of 10 of his studio albums have been certified platinum and he has received 13 Grammy awards. Although his accolades speak for his skill, his actual musical abilities are worth noting. His fourth studio album “808s & Heartbreak” is often credited for the creation of trap music, which used auto tune and unique drum patterns to make it different from any other album released in 2008. He also is skilled in playing the drums, keyboard, and guitar.
Kanye West has had an impressive career considering his longevity and relevance to this day, but he is not the only musician with a hall-of-fame like career. Taylor swift and Kanye West are often pitted against each other by their fans, but both have had arguably the most successful musical careers of the 21st century. Swift has had all but one album reach number one on Billboard’s top 200 album list, and her recent albums “Evermore” and “Folklore” have shown a shift in her sound that have been praised by many. In terms of musical ability, though Swift’s lack of production skills and experimentation make it hard to compare the two artists on a musical level. It often comes down to preference when comparing the two. Radiohead, although not as popular, have also accomplished multiple number one Billboard top 200 albums placements, while also creating sounds that were new for the early 2000s. Unfortunately, they have not had as many successful albums as West, putting them at a lower position in comparison. Hip-Hop artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Frank Ocean haven’t been around as long to be on the same level, and Eminem does not have the consistency that Kanye West has. Many artists have accomplished great things, but they are only a fraction of what Kanye West has done.
Kanye West’s recent public outbursts have had a huge impact on people’s perception of his mental well-being and his legacy, and there are a fair amount of people who dislike his music as a result of him as a person or because of the genre itself, but his contributions to the music of hundreds of other artists have solidified him as a legendary producer, rapper, and musician.