During a 2013 interview with the New York Times, Kanye West shed some light on his feelings about his own discography. It wasn’t quite as tidy as JAY-Z photographing all of his music albums in an ordered stack, but it did reveal a lot about what Kanye thinks of his output. He said that 808s & Heartbreak “redefined the sound of radio,” while admitting that “the fact that I can’t sing that well is what makes 808s so special.” Meanwhile, he called My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a “backhanded apology.” In more clear terms, he called his releases in the four years leading up to 2013 the “most culturally relevant albums” of the time.
Almost immediately, his comments were absorbed into the ever-evolving conversation that regularly overtakes the timeline, about how one ranks Kanye’s albums. Regardless of how you may feel about him as a person—political endorsements and bromance breakups aside—Kanye has one of the most impressive rap catalogs ever, spanning nine solo records and three collaborative efforts. He has undeniably secured a place at the bow of American culture. In the words of the artist himself, “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.”
Eight years out from the interview, his testament to his relevance holds up. Following the release of his star-studded album, Donda, we’re revisiting the topic to offer our ranking of Kanye West’s albums, from worst to best. Note: For the purposes of this list, we have not included Donda 2 as a part of these rankings, because it appears the finished version of the album has not yet been released. We will update this list if and when the finished version of the album is formally released.