There’s no disputing that Kanye West has had one of the wilder story arcs in modern music history. Never one to hold his tongue, his timeline has seen him gradually evolve from the protagonist of an endearing underdog story to a seemingly unstable, yet admirably uncancellable villain.

However, above all the personal drama the producer, rapper and fashion mogul has very publicly endured since his debut album The College Dropout dropped 20 years ago, his music has remained his constant. His creative mindset is always in perpetual motion, resulting in a catalog that has evolved along with him — sonically and thematically, for better or worse.



In a world where antics and relevance go hand in hand, Ye has made a habit of dying on very unpopular hills, making it increasingly difficult for some to separate the art from the artist. That, of course, is a very mild way to put it.

Still, his discography remains one of the most celebrated and influential in Hip Hop.
With that said, HipHopDX has put together a list of his albums — solo and collaborative — and ranked them from worst to best. Check out our list of Kanye West albums ranked below.

Editor’s Note: The selections below are listed in descending order from worst to best.



VULTURES 1 (w/ Ty Dolla $ign)

Following the release of his stem player-only Donda sequel, Kanye West did absolutely everything he possibly could to further divide his fans. Among other things, he professed an over-the-top love of Hitler and hatred towards the Jewish peopleburning down every bridge in sight.

Vultures 1 — a collaboration with frequently featured Ty Dolla $ign — feels like an attempt to move forward and just forget the whole thing. Moments like “Back To Me” featuring Freddie Gibbs and “Talkin” featuring his daughter North West almost make that seem plausible. However, with weak bars, multiple lulls and sample clearance issues, it’s one of the least inspired Kanye West albums.


This album marked Kanye West’s pivot to surface-level gospel music, reflecting his public embrace of Christianity. The album, accompanied by Sunday Service performances, signified a new chapter in his career, one focused on faith and spirituality. Despite its shaky critical reception, it underscored and, frankly, tracked considering the unpredictability of his “genius.”

In embodying this new, squeaky-clean — and lyrically downgraded — path of enlightenment, he shunned his non-secular back catalog, vowing to never perform it live again. What made this hard for some fans to embrace was that Jesus Is King is the album that dropped instead of the aggressively delayed Yhandi. For some, it stung about as hard as a surprise André 3000 flute album.


The sequel to Kanye West’s ambitious 2021 album Donda attempted to expand his exploration of grief, faith, introspection and redemption, albeit in an unconventional format. Exclusively released on his Stem Player — a device designed to let listeners manipulate tracks by isolating stems — the project was intriguingly hyped as a work in progress.

While it was promised to grow and evolve — a captivating notion in theory — it never reached completion. Furthermore, the album’s aggressive inaccessibility led to rampant leaks, not to mention bundling it with the Stem Player made it ineligible for Billboard charting, which Ye celebrated, stating: “We can no longer be counted or judged.”

It remains a collection of demos, some plagued with placeholders and scratch ideas, representing a significant ‘what if’ that never fully materialized into Ye’s complete vision. As a result, it occupies a curious space within his discography, making it pretty tough to review thoroughly and rank fairly. But as this is a list of Kanye West albums ranked, we had a go.


Recorded in the seclusion of Wyoming — the second of five projects made during this period — Ye is concise and deeply personal, addressing Kanye West’s mental health, family, and, of course, controversial statements in the media (his infamous “Slavery was a choice” monologue being one of them). The album’s intimate listening party, set against the backdrop of the Wyoming mountains, offered fans and influencers alike a glimpse into West’s current state of mind, making the project feel like a personal confession set to music.

There are many moments on the project where the message gets muddy, however, it was a far better listen than many detractors at the time gave it credit for. While it lyrically bordered more on ‘just fine,’ it was noticeably more focused than The Life of Pablo. Still, while it saw success, it remains one of his poorest-performing releases, proving that by this point, the art had become harder to separate from the artist.


Released after Ye — and recorded during the Wyoming sessions — Kids See Ghosts served as a cathartic release for both Yeezy and Kid Cudi, deep-diving into their struggles with mental health. From the haunting opener “Feel the Love” to the introspective closer “Cudi Montage,” each track offers a glimpse into the artists’ shared struggles and triumphs.

The project’s fusion of psychedelic rock and Hip Hop, along with its exploration of themes of rebirth and healing, offers a hopeful counterpoint to Ye, beautifully displaying the therapeutic power of collaboration and friendship in overcoming personal demons. While only bite-sized, at the time of its release, it gave fans something to believe in.


Named after his late mother, Donda is a sprawling, genre-blending epic that hears Kanye West wrestling with grief, faith and his public persona. The album’s release was preceded by a series of high-profile listening events, each with altered tracklistings and mixes. The ongoing evolution of the project was almost as exhausting as it was engaging.

At its best, the album hears Ye, who had been on a draining social media spiral, channel his emotion into a sprawling labyrinth of Hip Hop, gospel and electronic soundscapes, with a stacked guest list in tow. At its worst, it is an extremely long listen (27 tracks) that loses coherence at points — something heightened by the oversharing of his creative process.


There’s no question that The Life of Pablo is a much more universally palatable listen than its predecessor, Yeezus, albeit Ye’s pen game a little more weathered. Fans got their first taste of the LP during the Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden, with the album later getting a Tidal-only release.

The album, however, became a living, breathing entity — changing on the fly. By the time it hit other DSPs (prompting a lawsuit from one disgruntled fan), it was an altered listening experience from its initial version.

TLOP notably contains the Grammy-nominated “Famous,” which features what Ye at the time seemed to think was an innocuous claim that he not only put Taylor Swift on — but he could probably have sex with her; the video only made things worse. The tour for the album began in late 2016 but was later cancelled after he went on a political rant, imploring adoration for Donald Trump, which went about as well as you may imagine.


Upon its release, Watch the Throne was, for those who watched Kanye West grow throughout his storied career, a cultural event. Collaborating with his “big brother” JAY-Z, it was recorded in various locations around the world and tackled themes of Black excellence, legacy and success, set against the backdrop of socio-political unrest.

In short, the production was lavish, the themes grandiose and the tour raised the bar. “N-ggas in Paris” and “Otis” remain classics. But, despite its opulent sound and unapologetic swagger, it balanced out its highest highs with some even lower lows.

It largely failed to live up to the huge shadow of either rapper’s discography, perpetually earning itself relatively lower rankings across both Ye and JAY’s discographies. Still, it stands as a monument for two of the genre’s greatest innovators — and one of the most talked-about Kanye West albums.


For a sect of younger Kanye fans, Yeezus served as their entry point, as they never got to know the “Old Kanye” in real time. For many day one fans, it was a sonically jarring and uncharacteristically aggressive listening experience that created a clear division. Brimming with Ye’s obvious frustrations with the fashion industry and, really, society at large, it’s abrasive in how it confronts issues of race, identity and consumerism on tracks like “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves.”

Much in the way that 808s & Heartbreak was a pivot into new territory, Yeezus was a clear rebirth of Ye as an artist. However, more than that, it reinforced his rep as a contemporary disruptor unafraid to alienate fans and critics alike to hyper extents. Ultimately it’s one of those Kanye West albums that fans either unabashedly love or kind of hate — but said they loved at the time to avoid having extended dialogues.


Following up a debut like The College Dropout was no small feat, but Late Registration upped the ante. Ye seemingly evolved his production, teaming up with Jon Brion, who was known at that point for scoring films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The pairing helped weave in live orchestration which introduced a more luscious, cinematic feel to the album — check out “Gone” as a wonderful example.

This album is decidedly more sophisticated and intentional; Ye sheds some of his more lighthearted fare, delving deeper into social issues, like on “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” Conversely, big records like “Drive Slow” and “Gold Digger” exemplify not just his storytelling game but also his ability to make hits while not prescribing any sound that could pigeonhole him or inadvertently lump him in with his peers. It’s part of the reason why “Gold Digger” still sounds so fresh almost 20 years later.


808s & Heartbreak was born from a period of profound personal loss, following the death of Ye’s mother, Donda West, and the end of his engagement to designer Alexis Phifer. Inspired by then up-and-comer Kid Cudi, the project’s stark, autotuned vocals and minimalist production was met with extremely mixed critical and fan reception, as it was a grand departure from his previous work — jarringly so. Tracks like “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless” showcase vulnerability and emotional depth in a way Ye had never done before.

While it isn’t, perhaps, for everybody, it resonated strongly with a whole new crop of soon-to-be industry juggernauts who would all later cite the album as a turning point in their lives. Ye had, up to this point, found himself at the forefront of exciting new directions; 808s & Heartbreak was his most ambitious leap and, ultimately his most groundbreaking.


While keeping one foot in his wheelhouse, Graduation was a shift, embracing electronic and pop sounds — taking risks that paid off in spades with tracks like the anthemic Daft Punk-sampled “Stronger” and T-Pain featured “Good Life.”

Released amidst a head-to-head sales war with 50 Cent, the project didn’t just symbolize Ye’s stronghold on pop culture, as he dominated Fif. It also marked the end of the sonic era that the Queens rap titan’s G-Unit crew had once revelled in, leading the pack as the industry was moving towards a more eclectic, electronic sound. This album was pre-Yeezus Ye at his zenith in more ways than one.


This Grammy-winning gem remains Ye’s Illmatic, a culture-shifting, defiant stand against the status quo of the day. In a time when 50 Cent‘s brand of street-centric Hip Hop was running the game, a pink-Polo-rocking Yeezy was a breath of fresh air — devoid of the overt street aesthetic and mainstream gloss that superstars of the moment were attempting to straddle.

Instead, he crafted a soulful and poignant commentary on the intersections of education, societal expectations and ambition, becoming a champion of the everyman in a way that no rapper at the time was able to pull off.

Built upon his harrowing tale of surviving a car accident, detailed in the breakout “Through the Wire,” this album exemplifies the “Old Kanye” that day one fans will always have a place for in their hearts. If you haven’t spun it in a while, it’s aged beautifully.


Kanye West had a lot to prove when he secluded himself and a small circle of creatives in Hawaii to craft what would ultimately become his magnum opus. Just a year before, after drinking with Joe Jackson at the 2009 MTV VMAs (which is wild in hindsight), he stormed the stage to interrupt Taylor Swift, becoming a villain in what has become one of the greatest success stories in modern human history — a move that could have easily ruined his career.

Instead, he won back public adoration with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a masterful exploration of fame and the toxic mixture of excess and personal demons. Housing songs like “Runaway,”“Power,” and the epic JAY-Z and Nicki Minaj-featured “Monster,”MBDTF stands as perhaps the most fully fleshed-out, evolved example of Ye’s artistic and conceptual genius.

Far removed from his “Old Kanye” aesthetic, and not yet as polarizing as Yeezus, which marked the beginning of a new era for the rapper, this album best showcases why Ye is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of his time.

Did we get the list of Kanye West albums ranked correctly? Hit up the comments section to share your thoughts and let us know which other artists you’d like to see get the HipHopDX ranked treatment.