One of the best pieces I’ve thought up and executed as an editor and writer was a career retrospective of Kanye West back in 2013 on the eve of him releasing his sixth solo album Yeezus. The idea was to wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it was one of the first times that I asserted myself visually. Typically when you’re a writer, you have little say-so when it comes to the art/photography that will be paired with your words.
In this case though, Billboard’s digital photo editor Kate Glicksberg heard out my idea of finding an illustrator to draw a Kanye that represented who he was during each album and she loved it. She thought of Marco Cibola, a super talented artist, who eventually signed on for the job. Kate and I did some research and found the images that we thought were best to illustrate and Marc hit the assignment out of the park. When it came time to edit, I recall only having nitpick-y additions to ask for: “Can you put some more buttons on the leather jacket?” “Can he look more tired on the 808s pic’?”
And then I went to work writing about all of Kanye’s albums. As a legit fan, I had much to say and the discipline to know I shouldn’t be long-winded. So it was my mission to talk about his Dropout to icon journey in a tight manner.
When I finished the piece, I was super Kanye’d out and ready to go back to simply enjoying the man as a fan. His album was days away from dropping and, thankfully, then Hip-Hop/R&B editor Erika Ramirez was supposed to write the review. But as fate would have it, Yeezus leaked (hours after the retrospect as posted!) while she was out of the office and I was tasked with writing a track-by-track review A.S.A.P. to satiate an internet audience that was hungry for hot takes.
Since Kanye’s releasing his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, today, I thought I’d round up these pieces and share them with y’all.
I’m sure I’ll have something to say about his new album as well. Maybe I’ll come through later with those thoughts.