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Staying Power: Kanye West

Kanye West

Photo | angelonfire

Who has that “it” factor… that certain something that separates the fads from the truly talented? Who are those certain celebrities today that will be just as relevant in 20 years? ‘Staying Power’ is a column that delves into the past to reveal the immortal artists of the future.

Kanye West is my next choice for an artist with ‘Staying Power‘. It’s not just his solo career that impresses me; It’s his incredible talent as a producer. Over the past decade, Kanye has produced tracks for some of the biggest names in hip hop music.

From 1996 to 2000, Kanye produced tracks for Jermaine Dupri and Foxy Brown (to name a few). He gained great commercial success from his work on Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’. After this, he became one of the most sought-after producers in the industry. Within the next year, Kanye ended up producing tracks for T.I, Ludacris, DMX and Monica. From 2004 to today, Kanye has managed to release 22 solo singles as well as continuing to serve as a producer.

His history as an artist isn’t what impresses me. It’s his constant push to stay relevant. He was producing when Diddy was still “Puff Daddy”… when Snoop and Dre dominated hip hop music… and listeners were still trying to figure out what hip hop music really was. Few rap artists manage to maintain their celebrity status for longer than a few years due to a music industry that’s constantly changing. In fifteen years, Kanye has managed to stay extremely relevant by learning to adjust to these changes. Not only has he adjusted to these new industry standards, he’s actually ended up creating a completely new industry himself. His obsession for the highest production standards in his own studio has actually forced his competition to produce a new level of quality, which then created a “new sound” that listeners crave.

Kanye’s success at not only staying relevant, but also becoming the “industry standard” is what gives him ‘Staying Power’. He’s managed to adjust to the industry over the past 15 years, and I can see him adjusting to the next 20 without any trouble.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWDr0f2k2kc&feature=related[/youtube]

Staying Power: Lady Gaga

Abraham Lincoln BoomBox

Photo | 13thFloorGrowingOld

Recently, I’ve been thinking… I showcase a lot of different musicians, but who has that “it” factor. Ya know? That certain something that separates the fads from the truly talented. Twenty years ago, was anyone predicting the artists with staying power, or were they so wrapped up in their current trends that they couldn’t see that far? Did anyone actually consider that “Marky Mark” Wahlberg could go on to have an extensive career in film? Would anyone believe that Body Count’s Ice-T could be better known for his acting role as a police detective instead of his controversial music career? This got my mind thinking. Who are those certain celebrities today that will be just as relevant in 20 years?  And that’s why I’m creating ‘Staying Power’, a blog column that delves into the past to reveal the immortal artists of the future.

I know it’s cliche, but the first person who comes to my mind is Lady Gaga. She’s created a hole in the market that consumers didn’t even realize they wanted… and then filled it with herself. People that are too young to remember Madonna, never got a chance to immerse themselves in the late 80s/early 90s “Be Yourself” music scene.  The in-between time where gangster rap and punk rock hadn’t quite taken over yet, and “pop music with a message” (actually created by the artist) dominated. Lady Gaga’s management obviously figured out that it was time for “a new Madonna”. I can see Lady Gaga in twenty years, touring the world and still releasing new music (exactly like Madonna today).  She has created her own brand, opposed to just riding out a fad.

I want to sit here and list off the people I think will still be relevant in twenty years, but I’ve decided to only showcase one artist per blog post.  This topic is obviously open to discussion and I’m curious: Who do you think will still be relevant in twenty years?  Let me know in the comments section below.