Kanye is one of the most progressive artists around (ever?). But when he teamed up with producer Jon Brion—who was best known for working with artists like Fiona Apple and doing film scores like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—it was a bold new step for him. Sure, rappers seek new producers all the time; that’s how Kanye ended up working with Jay-Z in the first place.
But few rappers would actively seek a producer so far out of their lane for such a high profile project. And Kanye didn’t just work with Brion for a few songs. Brio received co-producer credit, a true collaborative effort. The gamble paid off, and there’s no doubt that Brion helped Kanye grow as a musician.