The first time I saw Kanye West was in 2002, a year after his debut album, The College Dropout.
It was the second of four albums he’d released over the course of that year, with the last being his sophomore effort, College Drop Out 2.
His debut LP was an immediate hit with critics and was a critical and commercial success.
The second, The Life of Pablo, was a big hit with fans and critics alike.
But in 2003, the rapper was a different artist altogether, having taken a hiatus from the music industry.
He had been diagnosed with cancer, but the prognosis wasn’t good.
“It’s a miracle that Kanye’s not dying,” one critic wrote of his last album.
The next year, he announced he would be working on a new album, but at the time, the public was still uncertain of his prognosis.
Kanye’s absence also coincided with the rise of the hip hop genre.
By the time he returned to the scene in 2005, he had released a slew of critically acclaimed albums, including College Drop out, The Chronic, and Good Kid, M.A.A./G.O.O.: Rockstar.
The first two were followed by 2009’s The College Years, which cemented Kanye as a major force in hip hop.
By that point, he’d been involved in music for over five years, producing tracks on the likes of Kanye West’s Cruel Summer, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and Lil Wayne’s Bad Boy.
His next album, 2016’s Yeezus, followed that year and featured an extended collaboration with Common and the Alchemist.
In 2017, Kanye and Common made a comeback with Yeezys 2.
That same year, the Alchemist also announced he was collaborating with Kanye again on an album, and the two of them teamed up again for the next two years.
When Kanye returned in 2018, the two were on another album, which was released in early 2019.
But by that point in his career, Kanye was no longer a household name.
He was no Kanye West.
By the time the album came out, he was no Eminem.
He was no Kendrick Lamar.
His return to the spotlight was marked by a number of missteps.
Kanye had a falling out with Common over a tweet in which he referred to Common as “the most powerful man in the world,” which resulted in the rapper calling him a racist.
Kanye also dropped a song called “Runaway,” which included a lyric about an ex-girlfriend he had in college who had a crush on him.
The song’s chorus included a line about his ex-wife, who is white.
The controversy was just one of many instances where Kanye had to grapple with the fallout from the public’s perception of him.
“He just kept getting into it, I guess,” Common said of Kanye.
“I mean, he never wanted to be called an arrogant, mean-spirited asshole, and that’s why I kind of came to respect him.
And that’s when I felt like I really started to get a little more comfortable with the fact that I wasn’t going to have to live with that label on my sleeve.”
As Kanye’s comeback began to look like a failure, he took to social media to vent his frustrations.
His first post on social media was titled, “Kanye West, what’s your plan for me?”
The following day, he addressed the media for the first time since his comeback.
He apologized for the tweet and said he would not be returning to music for a long time.
“I am going to take a break from music for the rest of my life, I will be focusing on my personal life and my career and everything that I love about my life,” he said.
It was the first public statement from Kanye about his comeback, and he quickly took to Twitter to vent.
Yeezus was a disaster.
The record was awful.
The lyrics were awful.
I didn’t write them.
The music was terrible.
I never intended to make music.
It wasn’t even my intention to write lyrics.
I wrote the album because I wanted to talk about real things, real issues.
I was just tired of hearing about Kanye’s failed career.
I was tired of being in this spotlight.
I had to just get over it and go back to my life.
I can’t go back.
It’s the only way.
He continued his apology, tweeting, “I can’t be a part of that bullshit.
I’m tired of the shit.
I don’t know how else to respond.
I am done.
I’ll get over this.
He went on to describe the album as a “sad, sad album.”
“My intention with this album was to just write about life,” Kanye said.
“If I’m making a career out of a single song, then I