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How Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak influenced a new generation

November 12, 2019 14:17

At a 2008 press conference to promote his then-new album 808’s & Heartbreak, Kanye West described the inspiration for the album as suffering a multitude of losses at the same time. Like losing an arm and a leg and having to find a way to walk through it.

The months leading up to the release of the album had Kanye experience the dissolution of a six-year relationship with his then-fiancee Alexis Phifer and the tragic death of his mother, Donda West, following cosmetic surgery. These losses would inspire the raw emotion, which served as a turning point in West’s life and his musical career.

His 4th studio album which was released on November 2008, has Kanye singing on most of the songs, heavily using autotune. Different from his prior albums, which cemented his talents for chopping down soul samples, Kanye stated he wanted to make an album that stands on its own. 808’s & Heartbreak’s simple beats were created with the TR-808, a computer-controlled rhythm machine from the 1980s. The writing process involved a number of people such as T-Pain and also Kid Cudi, the latter having 4 writing credits on the album. Cudi’s influence is instrumental to the outcome of the album as he adds a particular melancholic sound and vibe to it.

The album becomes a commercial success, going platinum in a matter of a few months. It is lead by two of his highest-charting singles in “Heartless” and “Love Lockdown”. Critically the album divided the hip hop audience, as most of his elder fanbase could not connect to singing and autotune using Kanye. Although it did not resonate with his older fans, his younger fan base connected to the vulnerability shown by West in his songs. 

Kanye is not the first rapper to be more emotional, sad, or depressed on a record, but he is arguably the most famous to do it at that time. The melancholic melodies speak to people and with this approach, Kanye planted the seeds for more melody-driven raps, which dominate the charts today. Most notably it influenced Drake, who covered Kanye’s song “ Say You Will” on his breakout mixtape “ So Far Gone” in 2009. Juice WRLD and Lil Uzi Vert would not be where they are today without that groundbreaking album.

808’s & Heartbreak would go on to create a new template for hip hop and pop culture that endures more than a decade later. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, Kanye claimed that the album redefined the sound of radio. The album made waves.

Drake says that Kanye West is the most influential person in creating his own sound and his producer, Noah “40” Shebib, states that it was extremely impactful to hear Kanye spill his heart over that kind of production, making him want to take on that sound as well. Juice WRLD cites 808’s & Heartbreak as his favorite album of all time.

Personally I can also attest to the huge influence the album has had on me. 808’s & Heartbreak helped me be able to express myself more and speak about my emotions in a way I had never done before. I hope that Kanye's new album "Jesus is King", which is meant to be released soon comes close to the genius of 808's and Heartbreaks, until then you can listen to our Playlists that we curated for you here:

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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.