If you’ve previously read through both Part 1 and Part 2 of Kanye West’s Greatest Songs here at The West Review, you’d have noticed just how many incredible songs he has in his vast catalogue, you’d also notice how many songs are yet to feature. The difference between this series on Kanye West and the prior one I’ve done on Eminem, Kanye’s tracks are completely down to opinion where as Eminem’s you can always agree that the likes of Stan and Lose Yourself are going to rank high, but with Kanye it’s down to the listener’s opinions.
10. Black Skinhead, Yeezus (2013)
Yeezus was whack. It was a ridiculous racket filled with painful barrages of noise and I hated it, however there were plus points- Yeezus gave birth to Black Skinhead, a track that was like the rest of the album, but was excellent, the production was more intelligent; it wasn’t just a shock-factor-filled song, it had decent lyrics and it was more than what was found at the rest of Kanye’s sixth solo album.
9. Monster (featuring Rick Ross, JAY Z, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver) Fantasy (2010)
Where do I even begin? For starters it’s a song from scratch- there are no samples and is all direct from Ye’s ‘beautiful’ yet ‘twisted’ mind, it’s home to one of the best guest spots in rap history- Nicki Minaj’s, it’s got a terrifically graphic music video and it was one of the best tracks from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If you didn’t realise by now, now you knew he’s a motherfucking monster.
8. We Major (featuring Nas & Really Doe) Late Registration (2005)
One of two tracks from Late Registration to make the top ten cut. Home to a outstanding guest spot from Nas, a fun fact courtesy of Complex Magazine– Really Doe was the ‘man on the right’ Nas referenced on his verse. But the lyrics and guest spots were mere icing on the cake, come [around] the five-minute mark the song ‘dies’ and fades out, it is then revitalised, given fresh life, and when Kanye says ‘Can I talk my shit again?’ you shit down, shut up and listen- he’s taking these motherfuckers back to school.
7. Blame Game (featuring John Legend) MyBeautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Featuring towards the latter of Fantasy, Blame Game followed the violent Hell of a Life, it would have taken a lot to grab the listener’s attention after a song that possessed lyrics like ‘make a nun come, make a priest faint’. But the isolated piano keys complimented with the flawless Legend/West chemistry make for a symphonic deterioration of 2010’s Fantasy.
6. N***as In Paris (with JAY Z) Watch The Throne (2011)
The best song from the collaborative joint between rap’s two biggest honchos. The insanely crafted beat from the man of the hour- Hit-Boy was a perfect basis for the pair to lay down some of their best verses from the album. What makes this such a good song from a Kanye point of view is how he so obviously out-performed his mentor, possessing the most memorable lines such as ‘scuse my French but I’m France’ and ‘What she order? Fish fillet.’
5. Hey Mama, Late Registration (2007)
Believe it or not, my Mum, who hates any degree of rap music has this on her iPod as it made her cry when I once had it playing. That should speak more boundaries about how much of a powerful, emotional and potent song this is. I could quote numerous lyrics from the track but none of them are more significant that the hook’s lyrics, ‘I just want you to be proud of me’.
4. New Slaves, Yeezus (2013)
The other saving grace from Yeezus, it took me a long time to appreciate New Slaves, and bizarrely after hearing Bauuer drop it at Reading/Leeds last year did I begin to listen to it more. The ‘hook’ is infectious, the production is actually standout better from the rest of Yeezus, the outro from Frank Ocean is impeccable, and the lyrics are some of ‘Ye’s best- ‘Meanwhile the DEA, Teamed up with the CCA, They tryna lock niggas up, They tryna make new slaves.’
3. Through The Wire, The College Dropout (2004)
You didn’t think I’d leave this out did you? The lead single to Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout, arguably the song that gave birth to the rap superstar we know today, not only that- his mouth was wired shut, that didn’t stop him, if anything it gave the song more character and made it even more likeable. The beat was to die for as well, sampling Chaka Chan’s Through The Fire it was soulful, melodic, and like fine wine, it’s got even better with age.
2. Runaway (featuring Pusha T) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Yes Runaway is Kanye West’s second greatest song- those haunting lonely keys, the violent demanding ‘look atcha’s, and [again] one of the greatest guest spots in rap history courtesy of Pusha T. Of course the song could easily end following that, but oh no, this isn’t your ordinary album, in the way We Major revitalised itself, Runaway isn’t done yet. What follows is a barrage of autotune, guitar feedback and ‘chugging’ chords that drag it along. It’s simply staggering that it works as well as it does. Only Kanye.
1. Devil In A New Dress (featuring Rick Ross) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Imma let you finish, but Devil In A New Dress is one of the best rap songs of all time. You didn’t think I could have done a Kanye feature and not reference that did you? Track 8 of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is where the album hits even greater highs and somehow exceeds the already excellent songs. Everything is perfect, from the beautiful Smokey Robinson sample, to Rick Ross’ incredible verse in which he brags about ‘getting Tupac money twice over’, that’s not to mention Kanye’s verses, of which are home to lines like ‘I ordered you jerk she said you are what you eat’ and ‘text message break ups, the casualty of tour’. It’s one of my favourite songs, period. ‘The way you look should be a sin, you my sensation’.
So there you have it, the 30 Greatest Kanye West Songs. As I’ve already mentioned, it is completely down to opinion and I know a lot of you will be surprised or amazed at some of the exclusions- Homecoming, Heard ‘Em Say, All Falls Down, So Appalled, Run This Town, Clique, New God Flow, Mercy, Cold, No Church In The Wild, Hell Of A Life, Home, Stronger, Diamonds From Sierra Leone, Good Life, See You In My Nightmares and Drake’s Forever didn’t make the cut unfortunately, as the above thirty songs are my personal favourites, despite the quality of the omitted songs themselves. Maybe I should have made this list longer.