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What are the most mentioned brands in Kanye West's songs?

Between Louis Vuitton and Gucci, a journey into the relationship between Kanye's music and fashion

What are the most mentioned brands in Kanye West's songs?  Between Louis Vuitton and Gucci, a journey into the relationship between Kanye's music and fashion

Not only a rapper and producer but in Kanye West's very long curriculum there's also a very close relationship with the fashion world. Even before giving life to his Yeezy brand, Kanye had flown to Rome with his friend Virgil Abloh for an internship at Fendi, while during his career he never missed the opportunity to transform some of the items he wore into grails, from the iconic Phoebe Philo's Céline shirt to the most recent Raf Simons patch shirts. Obviously, music also had a place of honour in the relationship between Ye and the fashion industry, becoming the outlet with which Kanye rhymed some of his favourite brands, distributed over the course of a 17-year musical career, from the debut with The College Dropout up to the most recent Jesus Is King

After tracing the most cited brands in the rap songs of 2020, Gabriele Murtas got back to work to draw up the ranking of the most mentioned brands by Kanye West in his songs, examining the entire discography of Ye in a work that saw protagonists 89 songs, 24% of Kanye's entire production. These are in fact the songs in which the Chicago rapper and producer mentioned 22 brands, ranging from Louis Vuitton to get to Zara. The French Maison is the most cited with 32 songs to its credit, including Stronger ("'Cause it's Louis Vuitton Don night") and Gold Digger ("With a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm"), once again certifying Kanye's historic passion for Louis Vuitton, started out at the beginning of his career and up to the appointment of Virgil Abloh as artistic director of the brand. Follows in second place and close to Gucci, present in 24 pieces including Ni**as in Paris ("What's Gucci my ni**a?") and Touch the Sky ("Back when Gucci was the shit to rock"), while in third place we obviously find Yeezy with "only" 9 quotes in songs like No More Parties in LA ("Some days I'm in my Yeezys, some days I'm in my Vans ") and Hold My Liquor ("Yeezy's all on your sofa"). 

Then follow Prada and Chanel with 8 citations, Versace, Dior and Louboutin with 7, Nike with 6 and Fendi with 5. YSL, Balmain (of which Kanye West was also testimonial) and adidas with 3 quotes close the ranking, while only one quote for Zara, Vans, Pyrex, Virgil Abloh, D&G, Jimmy Choo, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. The very low position of the American brand, connected to the early stages of Kanye's career, is surprising, as is the great difference between the first two positions and the rest of the ranking. If West has never made a secret of his passion for LV and Gucci, on the other hand, the trend highlights a progressive change of course for Ye, who from a luxury fanatic has slowly turned his attention towards minor and second-hand brands. Brain Dead, Martine Rose and Dickies are just some of the names Kanye has worn in recent years, as Carhartt and Los Angeles Apparel have found a place in West's wardrobe. A trend that saw its final step in the agreement with Gap, the fast-fashion brand for which Kanye worked as a teenager and with which he signed a contract to create an exclusive apparel line.

A real change of course, therefore, a passage to a more mature phase that has seen the disappearance of the brands also in the texts of the most recent pieces by Kanye West. If Kids See Ghosts and Ye are two discs focused above all on the intimate and psychological aspect of the rapper, in Jesus Is King the protagonist is instead his relationship with faith. Precisely for this reason, the research of Gabriele Murtas manages to have a double value: if on the one hand, it answers a question that has always been in the minds of Kanye West fans, on the other it helps to trace the human and personal evolution of the American rapper and designer.