Kanye West’s discography ranked

Sports editor Riley Millette compares 17 years of the rapper’s music

Riley Millette, Sports Editor

‘Ye’ (2018) in an underrated album that was released during Kanye West’s ‘G.O.O.D. Album Summer.’ Photo by David Wolf via Flickr

Now that “Donda” has had some time to sink in, it’s time for the age-old discussion: how do rapper and producer Kanye West’s albums stack up against each other?

As with any artist, there’s a certain amount of consensus that exists with West’s discography. But there’s still plenty to be discussed. Here are my personal top-10 rankings of West’s solo albums. Sorry, “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” and “Watch the Throne,” which are collaborations with other artists, are not included.


1.“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” (2010)

This masterpiece of an album features some of West’s hardest-hitting and most emotional tracks. West is raw and unapologetic on this album, as most have come to know him over the years. He’s brash, uncensored and ready to let every ugly corner of his mind show itself. Even the features on this album, from Nicki Minaj on “Monster” to Pusha T on “Runaway,” are top-notch. “Power” is still in commercials today. “Blame Game,” featuring John Legend, is a highly underrated track that gets overshadowed by the other chart-toppers on this album, as it features some of West’s most sensitive lyrics that show his pain after his separation from Amber Rose.

Top three tracks: “Runaway,” “Monster,” “Hell of a Life”


2.“The Life of Pablo” (2016)

West showed the most versatility and growth on “The Life of Pablo,” for which the bar was already set substantially high following the release of his previous albums, which were highly acclaimed. The sample selection on this album is immaculate, from the “Bam Bam” sample on “Famous” to the “Deep Inside” snippet on “Fade.” There are very few skips on this album, and it features West’s most playable party songs. “No More Parties in LA” and “Waves” are two earworm tracks that fit any occasion, while “Ultralight Beam” and “Wolves” are stellar low-mood songs.

Top three tracks: “Famous,” “Father Stretch my Hands Pt. 1,” “No More Parties in LA”


3.“The College Dropout” (2004)

West’s debut album shows little age in its 17-year history. The record features songs that are still played by a wide audience, including “Jesus Walks,” widely considered one of West’s all-time best tracks. This track sets the tone for what we expect from West today, a devout Christian who will stop at nothing to spread his message about the power of God. Since the album’s release, West has grown unlike any other artist, but the tracks on this album are still relevant to his character and brand today, which is part of what makes it so timeless.

Top three tracks: “Jesus Walks,” “All Falls Down,” “Slow Jamz”


4.“Ye” (2018)

Some would argue this is a high placement for “Ye,” mostly due to the album’s brevity and unfinished feeling. “Ye” came out during West’s historic “G.O.O.D. Album Summer” in which the record label “G.O.O.D.” released five albums that West executively produced, all seven tracks long. This time period also coincided with West’s very public mental health crisis, which is addressed in droves on the album. “Violent Crimes” and “I Thought About Killing You” are important tracks to West’s progression through his bipolar disorder, while “Wouldn’t Leave” gives insight to the marriage between West and Kim Kardashian, from whom he is now separated. “Ye” is only 24 minutes long, but gives irreplaceable insight into West’s mind.

Top three tracks: “Ghost Town,” “I Thought About Killing You,” “All Mine”


5.“Graduation” (2007)

This is one of West’s most commercially successful albums. Songs like “Stronger” and “Flashing Lights” made West a household name when he released “Graduation.” This album was a more distinct deviation into pop and electronic music than West previously showed, and it was met with great acclaim. “Graduation” isn’t as emotional or poignant as the albums placed above it on this list, but the star power that West exhibited on this project is top-tier. This album is the beginning of the middle arc of West’s discography, and it begins with a bang.

Top three tracks: “Stronger,” “I Wonder,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”


6.“Donda” (2021)

Yes, “Donda” is very bloated. Waking up the morning it was released and seeing 27 tracks and 108 minutes wasn’t what I wanted. But West’s willingness to branch out and collaborate with unexpected artists was a more pleasant surprise, and makes up for the stretched runtime. As a Playboi Carti doubter, he showed his ceiling on this project more than once with captivating and on-brand features. The Fivio Foreign verse on “Off The Grid” is still mind-blowing. Don Toliver’s hook on “Moon” is heavenly and enchanting. “Donda” has more than enough to offer, lyrically and sonically.

Top three tracks: “Off The Grid,” “Jail,” “24”

‘808s and Heartbreak’ (2008) is one of the most influential hip- hop albums released in the 2000s. Photo by Kim Erlandsen via Flickr

7.“808s and Heartbreak” (2008)

It’s impossible to talk about “808s” without acknowledging the influential power it had over the hip-hop scene then and now. The combination of strings and bass on “RoboCop” is still a heavily-used duo today, and the use of autotune on “Heartless” inspired countless artists. However, this album lacks the versatility that others have. The human emotion on this album is evident, but  West’s commentary on relationships and emotion on “808s and Heartbreak” pales in comparison to albums like “Ye.”

Top three tracks: “Heartless,” “Paranoid,” “Welcome to Heartbreak”


8.“Late Registration” (2005)

This is probably the most unpopular placing of any album on this list. West’s sophomore effort features some of West’s most recognizable hits, such as “Gold Digger” and “Touch the Sky.” It doesn’t have the same magic that “The College Dropout” did. Highlights like “Roses” and “We Major” bring the firepower that otherwise lacks in the album, but this is merely a good album that doesn’t hold a candle to others that West has released. 

Top three tracks: “Touch the Sky,” “Roses,” “We Major”

‘Late Registration’ (2005) features some of Kanye West’s most recognizable songs. Photo by Kim Erlandsen via Flickr

9.“Yeezus” (2013)

West’s most out-there album, “Yeezus” is an experiment that misses the mark overall. This album’s release signaled a major change in West’s style. It was more abrasive and multi-layered than anything else he had released to date. “Black Skinhead” is a spectacular track and “Bound 2” features the precise production West is capable of, but the lyrical content is a swing and a miss for me. Yes, I’m talking about the feature from “God” on the track “I Am A God.” It’s a bit too stratospheric.

Top three tracks: “Black Skinhead,” “Bound 2,” “Blood on the Leaves”


10.“Jesus is King” (2019)

No one was really sure what to expect from this album. It dropped without much warning, and West’s fans were expecting “Yandhi” instead of this 27-minute gospel album. “Jesus is King” is exactly what it sounds like: a cry out to the powers that be. West focuses way too much attention on religious content on this album, which is by no means a bad thing on its surface, but as a non-religious person, only listening to gospel and little else for nearly a half-hour was a let-down.

Top three tracks: “Selah,” “Use This Gospel,” “Follow God”


The beauty of West’s collection is that there’s something for everyone. It would make all the sense in the world to me if someone said “Yeezus” or “808s and Heartbreak” were their favorite album. Both of those albums hold very high esteem in the hearts of diehard West fans. But if you see me walking around on the quad, feel free to stop me and tell me how wrong I am about my rankings.