Every time he drops an album, he moves the needle.
There isn’t much in hip-hop or any other genre that can compare to Yeezy season. When Kanye decides to drop an album, everybody pays attention. Kanye’s brand has become so powerful that his name is synonymous with quality. It's one of the reasons he’s been able to weather multiple guard changes in hip-hop.
Kanye’s biggest advantage over most rappers is his producing past. Kanye instinctively knows what sounds good, what sounds bad, and what new sounds people are waiting to hear. In the best way possible, Kanye is a futurist. While everybody is following one trend, West circumvents that path to create something innovative enough to change the overall conversation.
- Rap isn’t relatable enough to the common man, Kanye drops College Dropout - Kanye sees the approaching EDM wave so he samples Daft Punk on “Stronger” - Rap hasn’t had the defining story of black opulence and excellence so 'Ye enlists Jay-Z to drop Watch the Throne - Hip-hop isn’t experimental enough, so Kanye releases the industrial, new-wave epic Yeezus
Rappers are still mining classics like College Dropout and 808s years later. Within West’s discography are micro-genres on top of micro-genres. While many rappers can change the conversation based upon flows (Big Sean), rhyme patterns (Migos), and dances (Bobby Shmurda), Kanye’s scope is bigger. With every new song, album, and remix Kanye creates a moment that aesthetically mutates not just hip-hop, but music in general. In effect, Kanye has his hands on the metaphorical needle and the rest of rap is at his mercy.