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Kanye West vs. Drake: who's the most influential artist?

Drake and Kanye West are both game changers in their own way, but who is the greatest of all time? Here's Explica's take on the two rappers.


Emily Treadgold


Drake and Kanye are both hitmakers. Their albums are game changing, and they've been the source of inspiration for many artists, but who is more influential?

 

Let's start with Kanye West:

 

Kanye changed the hip-hop game. His signature soulful beats and incomparable sampling abilities put him on the map, but he was considered too nerdy to be a real rapper. Label executives thought his lyrics and his aesthetic would never sell. When he played "Jesus Walks" for a table of industry leaders, they laughed about it. No one produces like Kanye. 

 

On the other hand, Drake brought emotions to the table. His lyrics talked about his feelings and brought a softer side to hip-hop. It's now more common to rap about love and be sensitive. 

My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater. That always sounds so funny to people, comparing yourself to someone in the past that has done so much, and in your life youre not even allowed to think that you can do as much. Thats a mentality that suppresses humanity.

Drake's songs definitely have their uniqueness. He combines hip hop and R&B in an interesting way, and he doesn't really rely on features, and he'll sing his own hooks, some of his songs wouldn't even be considered rap.

 

The 40-year-old loves his features, but there's not a lot of artists who can shift genres as flawlessly as Kanye. The maximalist sounds of MBDTF to the sparse soundscapes of Yeezus, he's a trendsetter.

The one place where the 31-year-old shines is his ability to laugh at himself. The Drake memes have been constant and can be considered part of the cultural zeitgeist just for the memes. His "Hotline Bling" video basically took over the music world with its visuals. People just love Drake. He defends women and gives millions of dollars away in the "God's Plan" video. 

 

Let's admit it: Kanye is way more controversial yes, he causes problems. Yes, he takes moments away from people, enter, Taylor Swift. He's not the most beloved character in music, but he does know how to make sure people are always talking about him. He knows he's the villain and plays to that.

 

Both artists have a lot in common. Kanye rapped about his mom; Drake rapped about his mom. Both were considered to be too nerdy and not gangster enough. They both know how to hype up their projects with publicity and how to shift the culture, but it's hard to say where Drake would be unless Kanye had cleared that path for him in the first place.

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