It was Kanye West’s birthday yesterday, and in honour of the mighty rap star I decided to compile a list of his best songs. From The College Dropout to Yeezus, I’ll be endeavouring in his ridiculous portfolio of music and picking his 30 greatest tracks, kicking off with numbers 30 through to number 20.
30. Gotta Have It (with JAY Z), Watch The Throne (2011)
‘ello ‘ello ‘ello ‘ello white America, assassinate my character’ is the jaw dropping opening line from one of WTT’s highlights, the various James Brown samples curated by Pharrell best showcases the duo’s chemistry and it’s near impossible to distinguish which outperforms the other, like on the rest of WTT actually.
29. Power, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
One of Kanye West’s most egotistical tracks, built around a sample of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson, it boasted lyrics such as ‘they say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation, well that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation’. It was honest yet cocky at the same time, two contrasting qualities- an aspect to Fantasy that Kanye managed to achieve across the duration of the album.
28. Gold Digger (featuring Jamie Foxx) Late Registration (2005)
Now I know that the majority of the world will place this higher, but as good as it is, I just don’t think it beats the latter of this list. It famously sampled Ray Charles, and is easily one of Yeezy’s most recognised tracks, the drums that bring in his vocals are just impeccable and it’s also one of the funniest Kanye songs- ‘WE WANT PRENUP YEAAAAH’.
27. Welcome To Heartbreak (featuring KiD CuDi) 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
A seriously underrated song, never raved about and often looked past despite some even more-so underrated lyrics: ‘My god sister gettin’ married by the lake, But I couldn’t figure out who I want to take, Bad enough that I showed up late, I had to leave ‘fore they even cut the cake, Welcome to Heartbreak’. All topped up with a soulful [yet sinister against the strings and daunting drum claps] hook from Ye’s protege Kid Cudi.
26. Gone (featuring Cam’ron & Consequence) Late Registration (2005)
I love love love the beat to this song, what with the trademark vocal loop, background strings and expertly picked guest spots from two very different rappers in Killa Cam and Consequence. The track is welcomed towards to the latter of Late Registration, following the incredible Hey Mama and Celebration and showed what a complete piece of music Kanye’s sophomore effort really was.
25. Love Lockdown, 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
The lead single from 808s had to be a big one, fresh off the Taylor Swift saga, ‘Ye needed a huge song to self right his career and that’s exactly what Love Lockdown did. It was something of a new side to Mr West, the new experimental sound featured heavy auto tune accompaniment and it was a bold move, but, complimented with heavy drums it of course was a huge success earning top ten spots in both the UK and the US.
24. Otis (with JAY Z) Watch The Throne (2011)
Nodding at his past production, Kanye crafted the ipso-facto lead single from WTT around a beautifully crafted Otis Redding sample that, with exaggerated organ-style piano chords and Redding ad-libs, made it a massive hit for the pair. Their lyrics were some of the strongest on WTT including ‘photoshoot fresh, looking like wealth, ’bout to call the paparazzi on myself’ and ‘I get it custom, you a customer’.
23. Gorgeous (featuring KiD CuDi & Raekwon) Dark Fantasy (2010)
Another underrated ‘Ye song with Cudi at the helm, the dirty guitar is enough to distract from the song’s content, but the twinge of autotune to Ye’s raps and the soulful hook are enough to tame the track ready for a knock out verse courtesy of the chef Raekwon. The track certainly makes us consider weather ‘hip-hop [is] just a euphemism for a new religion?’
22. Late, Late Registration (2005)
When Kanye appeared with Tyler, The Creator at the OF Carnival not so long ago, he performed Late after Tyler cited it as his favourite Kanye song, I’m not surprised, the numerous samples carried on his trademark College Dropout production style, the difference now being the new-found confidence/arrogance ‘Ye possessed on his sophomore, as the last track on the album it also showed what an album it was.
21. Touch The Sky (featuring Lupe Fiasco) (2005)
Who could forget the Move On Up sample? The career-defining Lupe guest spot? The Pamela Anderson featured music video? It was all the makings of a classic and remains one of Kanye’s best loved songs, the only reason I don’t rank it higher is because of the standard of Fiasco’s verse, arguably better ‘Ye? I certainly think so.
20. Celebration, Late Registration (2005)
Celebration is the most slept-on track from ‘Ye’s sophomore album. It’s such a soulful, melancholic song despite its content, often brash and typically Kanye – ‘..after that I’ll grab your ass’. The production is well thought about featuring a wide wide variety of sounds that all beautifully slot together.
To keep reading on, catch Part 2: Numbers 21-11 available here.