Ever since “Imma let you finish,” I’ve been standing on the line between Yeezy fan and T-Swift admirer (don’t call me a Swifty). I thought Kanye could have handled his “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all-time” campaign a little more gracefully. I thought Taylor lied about Kanye not speaking to her about the “might still have sex” lyric long before Kim’s snapchat. But whether you like them or not, these two are defining musical icons of our generation with a catalogue of music that can rival anyone in the last fifteen years. Their albums dominate radio waves and iPhones across the country when they drop and each have quirks that make each uniquely memorable. I don’t know anyone who’s ranked their favorite Taylor Swift albums (not that I’ve asked), but how you rank your Kanye albums speaks to your manhood. Either way, I’m gunna rank them both… from worst to best… of all-time… together… interchangeably…
The Louis Vuitton Don and Taylor… Swizzle?… Is that her best nickname?… Oh well. Without further ado…
12. 808s and Heartbreak
After recent “What’s Kanye’s worst album?” debates, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is it. No, I’m not heartless. 808s spot on the list is more of a testament to the rest of Ye’s discography. It’s a special album, but when you take a step back, it’s Kanye in his feels, drunk on autotune. Which is dope, but not enough to climb higher.
11. Late Registration
This album is the one that battles 808s for that uncoveted title. The back half of the album shines to me more than the first, but not enough to make me forget forgettable songs like Drive Slow and Crank Music. Also, Jay-Z kidnaps the whole album in his Diamonds (remix) verse and never gives it back. Like damn. It makes you ask Kanye, “What’s up with you and Jay man? Are y’all okay?”
The first T-Swift entree on this list and her own sophomore product. With it, we saw her grow from the girl crying on guitars to declaring who belonged with her. It was another tip toe from the country singer she introduced herself as, towards the pop icon she is today. She was scripting her own love story.
9. Taylor Swift
Taylor’s self-titled debut tapped into something. She was going for a country sound, but it reached way more than your boot-wearing, beer-chuggin, mericans. It reached people like me. I wanted a somebody to tell that this is our song to and then have a picture of us to burn when it didn’t work out. It was country, but catchy like pop. A sign of what was to come.
8. The Life of Pablo
Ultralight Beam makes me cry every time. The rest of the album is me picking up the tears. The Life of Pablo is a lot because it’s all of Kanye. It’s the closest you get to Kanye the person, while witnessing Kanye the artist. It’s his most intimate in that way which makes you respect it, but maybe it’s the peak that is Ultralight Beam that makes me not quite love the rest of the album like I do the first song. For whatever reason I can’t bring myself to move it higher.
Yeezus is Kanye’s weirdest album, but probably his most fun. Singing Blood on the Leaves while thinking about an ex is my favorite past time. Rapping his second verse of New Slaves as raw as you can is my second. The first couple listens left me lost, but the album grew on me unlike any other, each song slowly but surely.
6. Speak Now
There isn’t much to say about Speak Now outside of there’s just so many songs that I love. Sparks Fly, The Story of Us, Mean. Ours eventually. It’s just a collection of memorable music and that’s all that an album needs to be. This one will always hold a special place with the little white girl side of me. Nough said.
5. The College Dropout
Kanye’s first and if felt like it. You can hear the album being his whole life’s work (up to that moment) in the music. The topics were wide ranging. He made Jesus walk. He rapped through the wire. Kanye stepped on the scene with as much street cred as me, and changed the History of Hip Hop forever. I couldn’t leave it out my top 5.
Taylor Swift’s Yeezus? Probably not that, but probably the closest thing to it. Taylor tapped into EDM culture with We Are Never Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble. It was dope and showed that she could alter the formula that she had perfected. And everyone realizes the brilliance of 22 when they turn 22. As someone who’s 23, I wish she created a sequel.
Graduation may not have put an end to gangster rap, but it put a dent in it that it may never recover from. Kanye’s third album was dropping on the same day as 50 Cent’s forgettable third. There was a lot of talk about who would sell more records in the first week. Kanye vs. 50 was a big question. Kanye prevailed and look at the two’s career since. It should come as no surprise with both albums in our hands now. Graduation cemented Kanye an all-time rapper that you couldn’t tell nothing for a good reason.
With her fifth album, Taylor shook off all the haters and doubters and released a gem. Put 1989 on shuffle, listen to it from beginning to end, listen to it vice versa. It doesn’t matter. It always rides and comes together cohesively. Give this album to ten people, and don’t be surprised when everyone chooses a different favorite song to fill in the blank space. It’s Taylor’s Graduation in my eyes. She came out of the woods and stepped into a realm where no bad blood could stop her.
1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
I’d be roasted for years if I didn’t put a Kanye album at one, but not that I needed to try. MBDTF isn’t just worthy. It’s a masterpiece. Every song carries weight. The features are unforgettable. I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t even know what puns to slide in here. Yeezy didn’t teach me well enough. You can’t skip a song on this album. Every song is a masterpiece in its own right, and then it comes together to form something both beautiful, dark, twisted, and fantastical.
But, I don’t think Kanye will ever produce something as great as this because it took him falling to a dark place to put it together. A place he reached in part because of the backlash he received when he interrupted a young girl at the 2009 MTV VMA’s. A young girl named Taylor Swift. Would Taylor Swift be as famous without that stunt? Would Kanye been able to craft MBDTF without it? Hard to quantify the impact that the event had for both, but the two are forever connected because of it, and I think (if this list doesn’t prove anything) that it was for the better.