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Top 20 Kanye West Songs: 10-6

Welcome back!

As we navigate towards the home stretch, I’m sure there are a few questions that I have popped up. Here’s two bigger ones:

 

Why aren’t there any songs from Watch the Throne

I know I’m going to sound like an overly-specific dork here, but Watch the Throne is technically a Kanye West AND Jay-Z album. Given how the official artist isn’t solely Kanye, the entire album was unfortunately disqualified. For good reason, too, because including the album would have made this whole process a lot harder. There are just too many good songs on it. Like this:

 

 

 

No love for 808’s and Heartbreaks?

Short answer: No. 

Long answer: The only song that I even considered pulling from 808s was “Heartless”, but it was beat out by every other entry when I got down to actual rankings. The album also wasn’t supported much through my Facebook peers, so it would have been preferential treatment to feature it on the list. 

It was an interesting album, that was adventurous and experimental with its sound, but it’s easily the “black sheep” of Kanye albums. Sorry!

 

Alright, back to business. Things are getting pretty serious now. Here’s numbers 10-6:

 

10. Power—My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The release of this single was the defining moment of when Kanye ascended into who would eventually be known as “Yeezus”.

Kanye supposedly spent over 5,000 hours composing the lead track of his fourth album—and it shows. West’s virtuoso production prowess comes through yet again, with otherworldly chanting that would only be fit for a king.

The track flows as if it were a sermon, delivered by West atop the world’s tallest mountain of self-indulgence. It was among the first of many middle fingers that Kanye would begin giving his critics through his music.

At the pinnacle of this self-awareness journey is what I still consider to be the best lyric in Kanye West history:

“At the end of the day, goddamit I’m killing this shit/ I know damn well y’all feeling this shit/ I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick”

I don’t even think his most adamant detractors knew how to respond to that.

 

 

 

9. Good Life—Graduation

A slogan that I love to advocate is that something doesn’t always have to be grimly serious in order to be considered as “good”.

Catching this wave of good vibes (pun actually intended) is Good Life, a rare occasion in which West celebrates his terrific fortune without having the lyrics flow from his ass…figuratively, of course.

The beat is infectiously catchy, and the rare glimpse of a genuinely happy West has cemented this song in the hearts of those lucky enough to be around when the track was released.

Along for the ride aboard the Happy Train is T-Pain, whose trademarked auto tuned voice has a knack for invading our nervous system and forcing us to smile.

Yes—even Kanye, who’s all smiles in the video.

 

 

 

 

8. Can’t Tell Me Nothing—Graduation

Okay, back to being serious.

From the very first line of the track “I had a dream I could buy my way to Heaven, when I awoke I spent that on a necklace”, Kanye puts his foot on a gas pedal of defiance and refuses to lay off.

The song is the culmination of West’s self-reported effort to create a “theme song for the people”. The song’s chorus, which consists of “wait til I get my money right” is a perfect way to get into the minds of the public and remain in their heats.

The line itself hit immediately because of its eerie familiarity, since it’s something we’ve all told ourselves at one point or another.

Can’t Tell Me Nothing has become a “street anthem”, as it tells audiences that unapologetic ambition isn’t only acceptable for success: it’s required.

 

 

 

7. Runaway—My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

This is the biggest example of my executive power thus far on the list. A lot of my Facebook peers neglected to mention this song at all, but I’ll confidently state that I find this as one of the very best efforts that West has ever produced.

The reason is because Runaway is a rare glimpse of the megalomaniacal West as a vulnerable, normal human being. I always find it especially commendable when an artist drops their guard and allows us to examine personal flaws and pains. This is the primary reason why Eminem is my all-time favorite music artist.

There might be some of my own personal experience mixed in with this song’s high ranking, but it’s mostly because of West’s own romantic failures that are so nakedly injected into this track. Without sounding too dramatic, I’ll go ahead and say that this song seems a bit more “alive” than others in his catalogue.

There’s just a bit more pain, history, self-pity, and apprehension that this track emits, and I’m amazed that Kanye was brave enough to do this while his brash antics still dominated his image.

 

 

 

 

6. All Falls Down—The College Dropout

Social commentary songs are like the “anti-food industry people” of music. The intentions are usually pure, and the content is sound, but artists can sometimes walk the line between educational and condemning a little too closely.

Given this eggshell walk of a song type, Kanye perfectly handles the topic of materialism without sounding pious.

He talks about the self-consciousness that the media helps create, and the subsequent obsession over fancy possessions that we’re told will help us appear successful.

I’m sure this kind of song has been done both before and since the release of “All Falls Down”, but it’s West’s admittance of his own self-consciousness and attempts to mask it with wealth that really makes this track special.

Nearly every line of this song (“Even if you in a Benz, you still a n*gga, in a coup) is gold, and carries a sense of candidness that makes us feel more pensive than guilty.

“I wanna act ballerific like it’s all terrific/ I got a couple past due bills, I won’t get specific/ I got a problem with spending before I get it/ We all self conscious I’m just the first to admit it”

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Check back later this week for the Top 5 songs!

Numbers 20-16

Numbers 15-11

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