Music is really a beautiful thing. It’s a celebration of life and its wide range of emotions, whether they be joy, sadness, anger, melancholy or bliss, you name it. I’ve heard people say that a particular artist, album or song saved their life, and while I won’t go quite that far, I’m certain of one thing — Kanye West changed my life for the better.
The first clear memory I have of hearing a Kanye West song, I was 12 years old. I was getting ready for a football game and my teammates were blasting some songs to get hyped for the game. All of a sudden, “Stronger” came on the playlist.
I wasn’t much of a hard-hitting football player but in that moment, I was so hyped up I could have run through a brick wall. After the game, I must have gone home and listened to any Kanye I could get my hands on. I was hooked.
For most of my life, I wouldn’t have considered myself to be a creative person. I liked reading, playing video games and watching sports, typical teenage boy stuff. But I didn’t really ever feel a drive to make something myself, except when I listened to Kanye.
If you’ve ever listened to Kanye, you know his songs are pure, unfiltered Kanye. In his music, he throws himself into his work, not stopping until the song is a masterpiece, with countless different sounds layered together to create a sweeping melody. In his lyrics, he doesn’t censor himself, he preaches from the heart with all the good and bad that comes with it.
And I loved that about Kanye. When I heard him speak his mind, I knew I could speak mine too. It finally gave me that creative spark I had been missing most of my life and the confidence to know that I could stand by my work. I didn’t exactly become a musician like him, but when I wrote, I could feel that electric feeling of inspiration. Just as Kanye had found his way decades ago, I became enthralled with creating things. For him, it was music. For me, it was writing.
At this same time, I was dealing with many of the struggles that come along with adolescence. Being unsure of my place in life, having all sorts of emotions running around in my head and suffering the pressures of life, I could always find solace in Kanye’s music. No matter what emotion I was going through, I could find myself in his songs.
“Through the Wire” gave me the motivation to keep grinding, “Hey Mama” made me want to cry and hug my mom, “Touch the Sky” always put me in a good mood, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” helped me when I hurt, “Say You Will” comforted me and “Runaway” gave me goosebumps.
I could go on for days simply because of how much each individual song and album spoke to me at specific times. No matter what issues I had going on in my daily life, things keeping me down or problems to worry about, I knew I could take a deep breath, settle into the music and reconnect with myself.
That’s what it boils down to at the end of the day. Kanye West’s music helped me embrace my emotions, harness my creativity and make myself into the person I wanted to be. Chances are, you might have an artist or album which speaks similarly to you, and I think that’s beautiful.
Music is truly a wonderful thing and every time I put on a Kanye album, I’m reminded of my strengths and my successes. It makes me feel that I can accomplish anything. So yes, as corny as it may sound, Kanye West has changed my life. And I’m thankful for that.