On my way home from #data17 (the London Tableau Conference on Tour) this week I decided to catch up on the Tableau Wannabe Podcast episodes recorded during the conference. The first episode I listened to was the interview with Neil Richards. Neil spoke about his work at HESA (which he also presented at the conference) but also mentioned how he began using Tableau and gave some advice for those just beginning their Tableau journey. One thing that Neil mentioned was to practice using Tableau with data covering a subject that you enjoy. This isn’t the first time I have heard this advice and I also agree that it’s much more enjoyable vizzing data covering a subject you care about versus the standard superstore sales dataset (apologies to all the superstore sales fans out there).

While I participate in the #MakeoverMonday project most weeks which covers very diverse subjects, I don’t often use Tableau to visualise data I have a specific interest in. I decided upon my return home I would look for data covering a different subject to the norm and produce a quick viz about it. I also wanted to take the opportunity to practice dumbbell charts, as demonstrated by Ryan Sleeper during his presentation at #data17 so I knew whatever dataset I chose needed to compare two measures.

Where does Kanye West come into all of this?

As it happens it was Kanye West’s 40th birthday on 8th June so I decided to produce a viz covering Kanye data. In particular, I wanted to analyse the populatrity of his singles over the years and how they have performed in the UK versus the US charts. I used to be a huge Kanye West fan having discovered him at the time of the College Dropout in 2003, at the beginning of his mainstream career. I have seen him perform live countless times since then and each time I am blown away by his creativity and showmanship. Say what you will about him (yes, he can be a bit weird / eccentic / OTT) but he has a eye for detail and is a true perfectionist, both on stage and in the studio. Kanye’s style has changed dramatically over the course of his career and I was interested to see if key life events coincided with the decline in popularity of his music; most notably his mothers’ death and his more recent marriage. Kanye’s Mother, Donda West died suddenly in 2007 following complications during surgery. Kanye was incredibly close to his mother (who also acted as his manager). Donda was (and continues to be) very present in his music with frequent references to her. Kanye famously married Kim Kardashian in 2014 and they have since had two children together. Again, Kim has heavily influenced Kanye’s work and there are frequent references to her and their children in his more recent music.

The Data

I sourced the data from Wikipedia as this presented his discography in a table format to show how each single performed in various different countries (I was only interested in the US and the UK so I removed the others). I used Google Sheets to connect to the data and cleaned up the format manually so it was suitable for use in Tableau.

The Results

As I had predicted there has been a decline in the popularity of Kanye’s music in the UK since 2007 (the same year Donda passed away). Stronger (released in 2007) was a number one hit in the UK and the US and has been his only number one in the UK to date. Despite the declining popularity of his music in the UK, Kanye has remained popular in the US and majority of his singles reach the top 10 over there. Despite a change in his musical style there has been little change in the popularity of his music (in the US at least) since marrying Kim in 2014.

Below is the original viz I uploaded to Tableau Public:

Kanye West Singles

Feedback from the Tableau community

Once I posted an image of my viz on Twitter I received some feedback from the community; the first comment being from Gwilym Lockwood from The Data School:

Gwilym Lockwood Feedback

This was followed by a very similar comment from Mark Bradbourne:

Mark Bradbourne Feedback

I replied to both of them to explain I had indeed toyed with the idea of reversing the Y axis but had decided to stick to the traditional lower to high format in the end. However, given their feedback (as well as a few other things I wanted to tweek) I decided to update the viz and make a few changes. This is one of the many reasons why I love the Tableau Community and I think it’s great how we can all work together to improve.

I was also unhappy with the background colour I chose in the original viz so decided to change it to black to mimic the covers of the ‘Clique’ and ‘Mercy’ singles. I also adopted the font used on these single covers.

Here is my final viz. Click on the image to view in Tableau Public:

Kanye West Singles2

Thanks for reading.