Now, we all know how controversial and polarizing Kanye West is. From claiming he is a God to running for president and feuding with everyone. Yes, we have heard and read it all. But as much as he is scandalous, he is also a musical genius, and no one can take that from him. Here is our list of his top ten songs.
This is a song made in collaboration with Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Nicky Minaj from Kanye's widely appreciated and praised album. The story about making this album has already become a myth as Kanye brought his whole team with him on a Hawaii trip. As one of the producers said, they were living the music 24/7.
The rappers brag on a track about how they are beasts on a mic. Fun fact about this song - it actually launched Nicki Minaj's career. Many people think that she had the best verse in the song, including Kanye! After that, many started respecting her as an artist and a talented rapper.
Let's start first with the album "Graduation." It was set on the same release date as the 50 Cent's "Curtis." Of course, it was all a media show to boost sales. Eventually, Kanye won as a sign of a power shift. From "ghetto rap" to an entirely new sound, Kanye was a rookie at a time, an underdog, and it was a massive moment in hip-hop history.
The song features a guest appearance from Chris Martin, lead vocalist of the British alternative rock band Coldplay. Kanye uses a metaphor to describe his feelings for Chicago, his home, by comparing it to a lost girlfriend.
8. " Gold Digger"
This track samples the 1954 Ray Charles song "I Got a Woman" and features Jamie Foxx. West had the idea to include Foxx because of his involvement in the movie "Ray," where he played Ray Charles. However, Jamie later said that he didn't like the song when they recorded it and considered it trash.
The song tells a story about a woman using her man only for money. Kanye examines the gold digger phenomenon and sheds light on relationships. It is a catchy song that delves into never-ending issues, and we will continue to enjoy it.
Don't we all have assholes and jerks hiding inside, at least sometimes? What makes this song beautiful is not the production (although it is incredible) but its message and the different interpretations. On a first look, you could say that Kanye talks about how he can't change his habits and bad behavior, nor can he explain why he does these things to a "good girl." It's all about his devious actions toward women in his life.
But, dive deeper into the meaning of a song, as we think you would come to more conclusions. It's a reflection of Kanye in the public eye. Some say that the reason why the ending is distorted is to show the general view of him. They hear what he says, but they don't really understand him. This is one of the rare moments where Kanye West criticizes himself.
6. "Love Lockdown"
This was a lead single off Kanye's fourth and experimental studio album. Song was loved by the critics and the audience, and the whole album was such a departure from soul samples in his previous work. Interestingly, the track doesn't contain samples at all.
The beat begins with a repeating 808 pattern that runs the course of the whole song. It also features auto-tune vocals sung by Kanye and tribal drums. The entire vibe paints a picture of being in a relationship and ending it and all the conflicted feelings that come with that decision.
Kanye himself called the sound of the "808s and Heartbreak" album a pop-art genre. Talking about a song, he said it's a "modern-day tragedy." It alludes to his feelings regarding the ending of his 18-month engagement and his mother's tragic death.
It was an unknown territory to cover, a rapper talking about his feelings and how his heart is broken. Kanye actually sings in this song, and his voice is auto-tuned. Not everyone was prepared for that, but the general public loved it. Not to mention, you can't stop singing the chorus.
4. "Through the Wire"
This tune is Kanye's debut single. He wrote and recorded the song with his jaw wired shut after a car accident in 2002 that nearly killed him. Kanye was returning early in the morning from the studio when he fell asleep at the wheel and smashed into a vehicle. He broke his jaw, and surgeons even had to put a metal plate in his chin.
In the hospital, he heard the song "Through the Fire" by Chaka Khan playing in the background on a CD player. He listened to her voice melodically singing the line, "Right down to the wire, even through the fire." That's when the idea for the song was born. He wanted to describe what he was going through.
The biggest hit from Kanye's third studio album samples French electronic music duo Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." In the song, he speaks about the resolve that comes when one is faced with adversity, with lyrics that paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche's words, "What does not kill me makes me stronger."
Some people think he's making a point about how many artists and musicians today are washed up and fake and that he's staying true to his music and art. No matter the intention of Kanye while writing this song, we can all connect to the lyrics. We all had our own difficulties that we had to overcome. It's not a coincidence that "Stronger" is one of the mega hits from Kanye's discography that many people can relate to.
2. "Jesus Walks"
This song was the fourth single from his debut album, "The College Dropout." It uses a sample of "Walk with Me" performed by ARC Choir. The track dives into topics of society, racism, and the battle with ourselves. It's a far cry from what rappers typically talk about-sex, drugs and money.
In the second verse, he challenged radio stations with lyrics: "So here go my single dawg radio needs this, They say you can rap about anything except Jesus. That means guns, sex, lies, videotapes, but if I talk about God, my record won't get played, huh?" It was a strategy that worked. The song was played on radio and MTV and was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rap Song.
The track was a lead single for Kanye's monumental project, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." Produced by Kanye and S1, "Power" samples "21st Century Schizoid Man" by British rock band King Crimson, "It's Your Thing" rendition by Cold Grits, and "Afroamerica" by Continent Number 6. It was a challenging year for Kanye. He faced a couple of controversies, including the critique of his previous album "808s and Heartbreak" and his infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards during her acceptance speech.
A media controversy followed that caused Kanye to escape to Oahu, Hawaii, and record his fifth studio album. The lyrics are "classic Kanye," exploring themes such as egoism, cultural racism, personal issues, and public persona. "Power" was like a rebirth of his career as his reputation was salvaged. Billboard put it on a list of songs that defined the decade, and we would have to agree with that!
In conclusion, many of Kanye West's songs deserve mention as his greatest. Yet, this top ten list focuses only on the essential classics that showcase his musical genius.
Do you agree with us? What are your top 10 Kanye songs, and why? Let us know in the comments.
Cover photo: Peter Hutchins/Photopin