How Kanye West’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’ Influenced A New Generation Of Rap | Genius News

How Kanye West’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’ Influenced A New Generation Of Rap | Genius News
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    JACQUES: After Kanye West's 3rd studio album, 'Graduation,' was released,
    he was on top of the world.
    The project sold nearly a million copies in its first week and his cut "Stronger,"
    peaked at No. 1.
    However, fate would intervene and it all came crashing down.
    ANCHOR: Surrounded by friends and family Kanye West arrived at the True Vine Ministry Church
    to lay his mother to rest.
    ANCHOR: Kanye West and his fiancé Alexis Phifer are calling it quits.
    Phifer confirmed the breakup to People Magazine and says she and West are still friends.
    JACQUES: Donda West's death and the end of his engagement to Alexis Phifer weighed
    heavily on Yeezy's mind and pushed him in a new direction.
    Instead of the previously announced 'Good Ass Job,' his fourth album became
    '808s and Heartbreak," released in November 2008 and still resonates today.
    JACQUES: Kanye blamed himself for his mother Donda's untimely death from heart disease
    following plastic surgery.
    JACQUES: Ms. West was very instrumental in Ye's early career and they were incredibly
    JACQUES: The theme of loss runs throughout '808s.'
    On "Coldest Winter," a tribute to his mother, Kanye delivers the album's sorrow
    in just a few lines.
    JACQUES: On "Pinocchio Story," performed live in Singapore, you can hear Kanye struggle
    with what he believed was the cost of his fame.
    JACQUES: To convey this pain on a record he used a technology that was already in vogue.
    JACQUES: In 2008, auto-tune, a pitch correction technology, already ruled the charts thanks
    to Florida's T-Pain.
    T-Pain had 12 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits, including a collab with Kanye called
    "Good Life" off of "Graduation."
    Ye enlisted T-Pain to help create '808s' but the sessions weren't always pleasant.
    T-PAIN: T-Pain shit is weak. It was real like, it was actually pretty lyrical.
    I actually thought he should've put that on the record at some point.
    But you know it would've been a diss record so I thought that was pretty fucked up.
    JACQUES: T-Pain later remarked that '808s' essentially copied his first album,
    'Rappa Ternt Sanga.'
    JACQUES: In addition to T-Pain, frequent collaborator Mike Dean said West fell in love with auto-tune
    while working on Jeezy's "Put On" and a remix of Lil Wayne's hit "Lollipop."
    On "Put On" Kanye's verse previewed the dark themes that later became '808s.'
    JACQUES: West said auto-tune was quote the "funnest thing to use" because
    it reminded him of his youth.
    But the general public wasn't so into it - culminating in 2009 with Jay-Z's
    "D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)," a track that was originally Kanye's idea
    and, well, Ye's stab at auto-tune took a beating.
    COLBERT: I mean why buy Kanye's album.
    You can basically hear it for free, just put a tin can to your ear and lean against a PacMan
    JACQUES: But Kanye then is what Kanye is now - headstrong.
    KANYE: If people have a major problem with Auto-Tune or me singing or me getting my ideas
    out then that's too bad.
    JACQUES: Prior to '808s,' Kanye's first three albums cemented his talent for chopping
    up soul samples.
    But he wanted his fourth to be different.
    KANYE: I was like, I want to make a whole album like that.
    That just stands on its own.
    That's like "Love Lockdown" ain't sampling nothing. Heartless ain't sampling nothing.
    JACQUES: '808's' simple, no frills beats
    were created with a piece of tech from the 1980s.
    ANCHOR: The Roland TR-808, a revolutionary computer controlled rhythm machine.
    Offering more percussive variations and effects than virtually anything other machine
    on the market.
    JACQUES: West was introduced to the TR-808 by indie rock and pop producer Jon Brion,
    who also co-produced West's second album, 'Late Registration.'
    JACQUES: The machine also gave Kanye the same kicks and snares as his inspiration,
    80s English rocker, Phil Collins.
    JACQUES: Producers like No I.D, Jeff Bhasker, Plain Pat and A-Trak joined West on production.
    As mentioned earlier, '808's' contained few samples but a couple snuck through.
    On "Coldest Winter" West interpolates and samples mid 80s new wave group, Tears For Fears.
    JACQUES: "Bad News" sampled Nina Simone.
    JACQUES: And "Robocop" included composer Patrick Doyle.
    JACQUES: West, fresh off defeating 50 Cent in a playful 'sales battle,' was in the
    position to move the needle of rap music.
    KANYE: And I was like, yo, let me stop fucking around.
    I'm gonna just like make it be all melody!
    JACQUES: The writing process involved a number of people like singer/songwriter Esthero who
    assisted on "Love Lockdown" and "Streetlights," the aforementioned T-Pain and a lonely stoner.
    CUDI: He saw a common connection with our creativity and that's why he allowed me
    to work on 808s and Heartbreak.
    JACQUES: Cudi has 4 writing credits on 808s and his debut album, 'Man On The Moon,'
    doubled down on his talent of delivering feels to great effect.
    JACQUES: '808's and Heartbreak' was a commercial success, going platinum within
    only a few months.
    "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown" are some of Kanye's highest charting singles
    peaking at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.
    But critically?
    Well that was another story.
    ROSENBERG: Most adults said this shit sucks, I don't ever want to hear this from Kanye
    West again, and the kids were like this is finally the Kanye West I was waiting for.
    Hip-Hop divides!
    JACQUES: Rap's youngest fans felt the raw emotion.
    Now, Kanye wasn't the first to MC to be sad or depressed on a record - artists like
    Scarface and Notorious B.I.G. come to mind - but West was arguably one of the most famous
    rappers to do it at that time - and it was the melody that spoke to people.
    KANYE: And you know when I was a shorty when they taught us stuff, they taught it with melody.
    I'm bout to express myself with melody and have it be a fine line where you don't know
    if it's rappin, or what it is.
    JACQUES: In this divide, Yeezy planted the seeds for the melody driven rap that dominates
    the charts today.
    JACQUES: Most notably, Drake.
    He covered "Say You Will" on his breakout mixtape, "So Far Gone" in 2009.
    JACQUES: Drizzy later said that Kanye was quote "the most influential person" in
    creating his sound and of the cover, his producer 40 said quote:
    JACQUES: Today, '808s' downtrodden harmonizing can be heard throughout hip-hop - and it's
    something Kanye saw back in '08.
    KANYE: If I was a new artist, I would rather have 'Love Lockdown' than
    'Through The Wire,' today!
    Something that mixed syncopation and rhythm with melody.
    JACQUES: Remember Kanye's point about learning music through melody?
    Well it worked.
    JUICEWRLD: I was singing streetlights really sad like I had some shit to be sad about.
    JACQUES: And Juice WRLD wasn't alone.
    UZI: I wasn't sad because I was young, but it made me want to...
    ROSENBERG: You wanted to feel that!
    UZI: But I was too young!
    JACQUES: The biggest benefactor of '808s' seems to be Kanye's protege Travis Scott
    who said quote:
    KANYE: You take 808s or Yeezus where these
    albums got completely panned when they came out and then you see how they end up influencing things.
    JACQUES: If you look at today's most popular rap songs, he's kind of right.
    JACQUES: If you want to learn more about '808s & Heartbreak,' check out the album page
    JACQUES: I'm Jacques Morel with Genius News, bringing you the meaning and the knowledge
    behind the music.
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