“I guess big brother was thinking a little different
Kept little brother at bay, at a distance…”
so my good friend G presented this idea to me and I told him “knock yourself out.” Since he only visits/comments on my blog when I discuss hip hop, of course he would be the perfect person to pen this post–as we have debated and bonded over how we love H.E.R. over the years. Check out his tumblr page for his random coolness. When he feels the urge to type more than 140 characters, this is what we get…
Just recently, while listening to “POWER” I realized Kanye is approaching his fifth album and is pretty much the one of the top emcees in hip-hop right now. Seems just like yesterday we were all introduced to a polo-wearing producer turned rapper. He can legitimately be thrown into any “top 10” debate along said his big brother Jay-Z. So naturally I began to think “who is better?” I know what you’re thinking: “that’s like comparing Jordan and Kobe!!”
Yes Jay has more records and has been in game longer, so that would be pointless comparison. So rather than comparing their over all careers, I took a look at Jay’s early career prior to his fifth album (which happened to be “The Blueprint”). So here is quick compression/snapshot of the two (leading up to their fifth album):
Jay: 1995-2001, 4 albums (I excluded “Streets is Watching” and “The Dynasty: ROC La Familia” because I consider those compilation albums) and 11.5 million records sold
Kanye West: 2003-2010, 4 albums and 11.5 millions records sold
So on paper they’re pretty much identical, so I had dig a little deeper to get better comparison, so let’s break it down a little further shall we:
Jay-Reasonable Doubt (1996, 1.5mil sold)
Lead singles: “Ain’t No Nigga” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle”
Notables: “Feelin it” and “Can I Live”
Sleepers: “Coming of Age” and “Politics as Usual”
Kanye-The College Dropout (2004, 3.5mil Sold)
Lead single: “Through the Wire”
Notables: “Spaceship”, “Jesus Walks” and “School Spirit”
Sleeper: “Two Words”
This is a tuff match up, both are classic and are on most fans list of favorite albums. The interesting factor that separates the two is RD was not labeled a classic upon release. Jay himself even said: “didn’t appreciate the first one, until the second one came out”. TCD was a bit unpredictable/risky upon release, who ever imagined a producer turned rapper dropping a classic? (Even Jay was reluctant to sign Kanye at first). No one did, until it dropped and the whole world was shocked.
Winner: this was a “score tied w/:03 secs on the clock in 5 OT of a game 7” situation. Both are undeniable classics, but for sentimental reasons I have to go with RD, but TCD put up one HELL OF A FIGHT!
Reecie’s feedback: I agree. “Feelin It” and “Politics as Usual” are two of my all time favorite Jay songs. But “Two Words” and “Get Em High” are some of my favorites in hip hop too, with Common, Talib, & the Mighty Mos! I also personally hated “School Spirit” lol. The influence of TCD is undeniable though. I think Ye’ wins as far as changing/progressing the genre.
Jay-In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997, 1.5mil)
Lead single: “Who You Wit”
Notables: “Where I’m From” and “Imaginary Player” (Tribute to Biggie)
Sleeper: “Streets is Watching”
Kanye-Late Registration (2005, 3mil sold)
Lead single: “Gold Digger”
Notables: “Touch the sky” (1st intro to Lupe) and “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”
Sleepers: “Late” and “We Major”
Some say Jay was depressed by Biggie’s death and his willingness to let Puffy put him in a shinny suit didn’t add to the album’s allure. It wasn’t horrible but was far from great, it definitely left us all appreciating RD more. Whereas Kanye “came out swinging like Tiger Woods.” He lead off with a Jamie Foxx (who was fresh off of the movie “Ray”) Ray Charles inspired collaboration and the rest is history.
Winner: this was a no brainier; Kanye had this won in the first quarter
Reecie’s feedback: I ABSOLUTELY adore Vol. 1, so I disagree with the appreciating RD more. I love them both for what they are. I know its an unpopular project overall but “You Must Love Me” is great storytelling. “Lucky Me” is a sentimental reflective song to me that I love more EVERY time I hear it, “Where I’m from” is a favorite go hard Jay track and how can you not love “Face/Off?” Even “A Million and One Questions” (the extended remix) is dope. I just LOVE this cd, from beginning to end the flow of the cd works for me so of course most of the tracks I think are sleepers. As far as overall awesomeness, I gotta go with ‘Ye being as I think Late Registration is a better album musically than TCD and really confirmed Kanye as a force rapping. “Late” is my favorite from LR.
Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life (1998, 5.5mil sold)
Lead single: “Hard Knock Life”
Notables: “Jigga What, Jigga Who” and “Can I get A…” (funny that Amil was on both)
Sleeper: “It’s Alright” (Bleek at his finest)
Kanye – Graduation (2007, 3mil sold)
Lead singles: “Stronger” and “Good Life”
Notables: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Sleepers: “Barry Bonds” and “Good Morning”
How could anyone forget the “Annie” inspired summer anthem? There were some decent tracks on Vol. 2 but the album was definitely carried by the success/popularity of “Hard knock life”. By junior year Kanye had earned his respect in the game and deserved to be called Mr. West. Graduation had lots of bangers and how could we forget that this was the album that helped destroy 50 Cent’s career.
Winner: Jay came hard with Vol. 2, but Mr. West dropped a nuclear bomb with Graduation. Kanye had this game wrapped up by half time.
Reecie’s feedback: I wasn’t a huge fan of Vol. 2 outside of the songs mentioned above, oh and of course “Money, Cash Hoes”–the original and the remix. “Hard Knock Life” was THEEEEE SHIT in 98 though. “Jigga What, Jigga Who” had me thinking I could flow for real. “mufuckas wanna act loco, hit em with numerous shots with the fo fo” Graduation was dope to me when it first came out (the whole 50 cent thing–Curtis wasn’t a bad CD either, btw) but I can’t say I listen to a lot of those songs now either, outside of “Flashing Lights” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” *shrugs* and I’m still salty he reworked “Home” and made “Homecoming” which is inferior to the OG track with John Legend. Revisiting, it’s definitely a solid CD, just not one in my heavy rotation–that goes for both Junior Year projects. I don’t want to pick at all on this one (indecisive Libra).
Jay-Vol. 3…Life and Times of S.Carter (1999, 3mil sold)
Lead: “Big Pimpin”
Notable: “Jigga My Nigga” and “Do it Again”
Sleepers: “So Ghetto”
Kanye-808&Heartbreaks (2008, 2mil sold)
Leadoff singles: “Heartless”, “Love Lockdown”
Sleeper: “Pinocchio Story” (Kanye explains his pain on this track)
Vol. 3 was an overall average/decent album and marks transition of when Jay-Z became Mr. Carter. For Kanye this was viewed by many as his worst album, it was a “star player suffering a season ending injury” situation. Kanye was dealing with the passing of his mother and a recent break up. He chose to express emotions/pain (as well as experiment) on 808.
Winner: Vol. 3 is the winner here. A lot people didn’t understand Kanye’s vision of 808. You definitely have to be in a certain mind frame to appreciate/see Kanye’s vision, because this is not an album you can randomly listen to on a regular day. Therefore Jay wins this round primarily due to replay value.
Reecie’s Feedback: I’ve stated on a previous blog post, I haven’t listened to 808s, so you already know I can’t vote at all, I mean I can and say Jay but I’d be super biased. Other sleepers on this one are “Come and Get Me” hands down my fave after “So Ghetto” and “Jigga My Nigga” became a favorite from the Ruff Ryder’s joint, forgot it was also a hidden track on Vol. 3. Vol. 3 had a good number of commercial/crossover songs like “Snoopy Track” and the joint with Mariah but of course the girl in me liked that one too. I only listen to about half of the tracks on this CD now, maybe less.
Leading up to 5th album
Jay-“IZZO (H.O.V.A.)” **ironically produced by Kanye**
Jay was at the top of his game and “IZZO” was summer anthem for 2001. Who knew a rapper (and producer) could flip a Jackson 5 beat and make it a banger??
Kanye is coming off a hiatus after the Taylor Swift thing and using “POWER” to address it and his position (power) in the industry. The rhymes are clever and the production is a bit risky if you really listen but Kanye definitely made it work.
Winner: Both are winners, because “IZZO” was definitely a fresh sound to the hip-hop game (and introduced us to Kanye the producer). “POWER” is just as creative and makes us all anticipate what is to come. So they both win in my book.
Reecie’s Feedback: Ditto. I will never forget the first time I heard “IZZO”–he performed it during an award show performance before the album dropped and of course being the Hov fanantic I was I was soooo hyped because of course he mentioned VA on the track. I dug it immediately. “Power” I heard before his recent award show performance but seeing it “live” helped me appreciate it a lot more. And the moving portrait video? I think its extremely creative and innovative.
And the Winner is:
After comparing stats/solo albums I’d personally say Kanye is better at this point when compared to Jay’s early career. Kanye had stronger start and has been more consistent overall. His story is genuine and original (suburban kids’ dominating the industry was unheard of before Kanye). The fact that TCD came out the gate as a recognizable classic is what gives Kanye the edge. Yes Jay (reluctantly) put Kanye on, but when discussion Jay early career (prior to the Blueprint) 95% of the time only RD will be referenced out of his first four albums. Personally I believe RD was what got Jay recognized and the Blueprint was what ultimately gave him the crown. That does not take anything from Jay’s career as a whole, but in my opinion when comparing their careers, Kanye is better than Jay was at this point in his career.
Reecie’s Feedback: Agree. Also, the collective Jay is what makes him what he is–we haven’t even touched on the greatness of The Black Album and American Gangster. Shoot even BP3 (what can I say, it grew on me) Plus just like I love Vol. 1, I also dig the select tracks from Kingdom Come and if BP2 hadn’t been a double disc, it would’ve been better too, IMO. Most people consider these as failures. All and all, I look forward to what Ye has coming down the pike.
“My big brother was Big’s brother
So here’s a few words from your kid brother
If you admire somebody you should go ahead and tell em
People never get the flowers while they could still smell em
An idol in my eyes, god of the game
Heart of the city, Roc-a-fella chain
Never be the same, never be another
Number 1 Young Hov, also my big brother…”
Welp, that last quote is how I feel (yall know I love Hov).
So who would you say had/has better career when comparing the two? Can we expect Kanye’s new album to be the next Blueprint? Please discuss/debate…