The enigma that is Kanye West continues to confound his audience, but that audience is still listening. At least, they are listening when the right song and viral video comes along.
In fact, Kanye's latest single is his biggest hit in years. "I Love It," his oddly infectious and anti-serious collaboration with Lil Pump, may have produced mixed reactions, but based on the Billboard Hot 100, it's West's highest-charting single since 2015, when he teamed up with Rihanna and Paul McCartney for “FourFiveSeconds.”
“I Love It,” released on September 7, debuted this week at No. 6 on the Hot 100, two spots shy of the No. 4 peak of “FourFiveSeconds” in February 2015. Ye's only other entry into the top 10 since then came this past June, when ye lead single “Yikes” peaked at No. 8, making it Kanye West’s second biggest hit of the year.
Prior to the release of "FourFiveSeconds" at the beginning of 2015, Kanye West’s previous biggest hit would be 2011’s “Ni**as in Paris” with JAY-Z. The track peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 that year.
While we like to imagine Kanye as a monolith of talent and hip-hop culture, these statistics put into context that Kanye West the icon has more all-time pop culture reach than Kanye West the hit-making rapper.
Influential as he may be to all of rap, from production to style, it seems that outside of the hip-hop sphere and without the behemoth of streaming, mainstream fans have mostly struggled to connect with Ye over the past half-decade.
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