23 Apr 2012


Every Monday for the month of April I will be listing a few of my favourite bands and what I believe are their best songs. Although you may not agree with the list, I hope you can respect me for being able to make a call and not totally mess it up.

I think American president Barack Obama said it best when he called KANYE WEST is a talented jackass. His bravado and outspoken nature may turn off a lot of people but there is no denying that his creative vision has changed how we view hip hop and popular music forever. He has released five albums in his career: The College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007), 808s & Heartbreak (2008), and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). BTW, as a word of caution, all the songs below could be considered [NSFW].

10. Stronger - album: Graduation (2007)

I have to admit, this song took a few listens before I started to like it. Even though Kanye did a good job sampling DAFT PUNK's 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' (which in turn sampled Edwin Birdsong's 'Cola Bottle Baby'). I feel the best part of the song was Kanye's lyrics, writing two catchy and memorable verses. "Cause this is Louis Vuitton don night / So we gon' do everything that Kan like / Heard they'd do anything for a Klondike / Well I'd do anything for a Klondike / Well I'd do anything for a blonde dike / And she'll do anything for the limelight / And we'll do anything when the time's right / Uh, baby you're makin' it (harder, better, faster, stronger)"

9. Jesus Walks - album: The College Dropout (2004) 

There really hasn't been a song with this content before let alone one that reached number two on the R&B/Hip-Hop Song chart and snagged a Grammy for Best Rap Song. Kanye really nails the military march feel with the snare rolls and foot stomping sounds; it's unlike any hip hop song I've ever heard.

8. Last Call - album: The College Dropout (2004)

Yes this song runs for 12:41 consisting mainly of Kanye's spoken testimony but the beat is so infectious that the listener is just drawn to Kanye's drawl. Placed at the end of College Dropout, 'Last Call' is the perfect conclusion and epilogue to his semi-autobiographical debut album.

7. Through The Wire - album: The College Dropout (2004)

Speaking of autobiographical, 'Through The Wire' was Kanye's debut single and the first song he wrote after suffering that life-changing car accident that temporarily fused his jaw shut. You can really hear his marbled voice on this which sounds much different than anything else on the album. The sped up sample of Chaka Khan's 'Through The Fire' was the perfect choice for the song too.

6. Flashing Lights - album: Graduation (2007)

This is my own personal night-driving anthem - it just perfectly accompanies the feeling I get while driving in a city at night with the bright lights of the buildings and signs. The strings, the bass drum, and the synth chords come together to form the perfect nocturnal combo.

5. Monster - album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Great beat, better rap verses. This song is packed full of lyrical punches with Nicki Minaj delivering the knock-out blow. "And I'll say "Bride of Chuckie" is child's play / Just killed another career, it's a mild day / Besides 'Ye, they can't stand besides me / I think me, you, and Jay should menage Friday." The song would be higher on the list if it ended right after her verse but unfortunately it continues to give it an anti-climactic conclusion.

4. Gold Digger - album: Late Registration (2005)

What a fun song! With a bouncing beat, comical lyrics, and Jamie Foxx's near-perfect impression of Ray Charles, this song can be easily enjoyed by any listener. I also called this the best song of 2005 in my list of Best Songs of the Year 1960-2011.

3. Devil In A New Dress - album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

This was the only song on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not produced by Kanye but still keeps his old-school-turned-new style production. Featuring an extended guitar solo and monster verse from Rick Ross, this is quite the epic song that perfectly sets up the next song on the album and number one song on this list.

2. Gone - album: Late Registration (2005)

Kanye, Cam'ron, and Consequence spit some fantastic verses over this progressive sample. The song progresses so elegantly from staccato piano chords to full blown orchestral strings that you don't even notice. I love the sound of this song but that maybe because I'm a sucker for strings in contemporary music.

1. Runaway  - album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)  

Rolling Stone magazine named 'Runaway' the best song of 2010, commenting, "In 2010, no other song was so crazily epic or jaw-droppingly gorgeous - not on the radio, not anywhere." The hauntingly simple piano riff forms the backbone of this song from which Kanye layers different and interesting sounds upon creating a really unique song. Add to that heavy reverb, samples that pan around your stereo speakers, and that vocoder solo and you got one of the most creative hip hop songs ever produced. Let's not forget that ludicrous yet memorable, sing-a-long chorus. 

Even though I called this my runner-up for best song of 2010 in my list of Best Songs of the Year 1960-2011, it lost the title by a razor-thin margin because Cee Lo Green's 'F**k You' is just more radio-friendly.

Not only is Kanye West a talented songwriter, he also is a great producer for other rappers and singers. Here are some of his best produced songs:

Stand Up by Ludacris
Be by Common
You Don't Know My Name by Alicia Keys
Down And Out by Cam'ron
Used To Love U by John Legend
Heart Of The City (Ain't No Love) by Jay-Z
Ni**as In Paris by Jay-Z & Kanye West
Wouldn't Get Far by The Game
Brand New by Rhymefest

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