First Hit #1: September 29, 2007
The enduring popularity of Kanye West can be explained quite simply: He’s an exciting performer. Stronger begins with a Daft Punk sample, and uses that to make a song that kind of transcends its original very good origins. Yes, West’s lyrics are basically about himself, but he does have a weird sense of humor about himself that undercuts the massive ego on display. That’s not the important part, however. The important bit is how he makes something so propulsive, his voice as important component as anything else in the track to just push things forward. Stronger works because it’s a song that just pushes relentlessly further, a song that pushes one forward via a powerful beat. I can understand why people might dislike West, but after something like Crank That, it’s nice to have a genuinely exciting propulsive song, something that doesn’t stop pushing forward. It’s also something that feels complete, an issue I’ve been having recently. It doesn’t feel like it’s built on filler lyrics, the beat is high effort instead of a tired Casiotone, it’s an example of why hip hop can be exciting and vital, even something directed squarely at the heart of the pop market. It’s not like it’s diverging greatly from any recent trends – hell, it’s got its own brand of robot voice which repeats throughout, it’s got the trends from 2007 right there – but it’s not something that just runs with a popular element and forgets to complete the song. It’s distressing how refreshing that is.