You Can Learn More Than You Think From Kanye West

Life lessons from Yeezy

Tom Stevenson
7 min readOct 7, 2020


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There’s a famous line in one of Timbaland’s songs that goes as follows: “I’m a real producer, and you just a piano man.”

The line refers to Scott Storch, with whom Timbaland had fallen out with over credits on Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River.’ Timbaland is implying that he’s the one behind the success of the song, while Storch just played a few keys on the piano.

This may seem like a strange way to introduce an article about Kanye West, but there’s a reason. Before Kanye became one of the most recognisable figures in pop culture today, like Timbaland, he was a producer.

He worked with artists such as Jay-Z and had success producing his album, The Blueprint, which revitalised Jay’s career. Today, it may seem like it was inevitable that Kanye would become one of the most successful artists of the 21st century. The truth is that it was far from certain.

Kanye had to fight to become more than just a producer, to paraphrase Timbaland’s lyrics. He was rejected by multiple record companies before Roc-A-Fella records signed him up to a deal. Things could have turned out differently for Kanye.

Kanye isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s a polarising figure. Still, whether you like him or hate him, there’s a lot you can learn from his life. Kanye has struggled to get his voice heard, been involved in multiple controversies and procured multiple best-selling albums.

Success is never guaranteed for anyone, and Kanye’s no exception. Before he released his first album, I doubt many of the executives at the record labels that rejected him would have said he’d become one of the biggest selling artists of the 21st century. If he had suggested the idea, I think most people would have laughed in his face.

Kanye who?

Well, he’s the one who had the last laugh. Kanye may appear to be an odd figure to take life lessons from, but you’d be surprised how much can learn from his success and missteps.

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When Kanye burst onto the scene with the release of his first album, The College Dropout, it had a distinctive soul feel to it…



Tom Stevenson