Top 20 Kanye West Songs: 20-16

One thing that you might not be aware of (and I don’t know why you would) is that I consider Kanye West as one of my favorite artists of all time.

While it’s been difficult to continue supporting Kanye as a person….or even a sane human being, the single constant throughout his career has been the undeniable quality of his music.

Kanye West was always a great producer, but it wasn’t until he combined his beat-making skills with his untapped talent as a lyricist that “Yeezy” was born. His ability to creatively incorporate samples and feature other top artists to boost his music’s strength has been unparalleled for the past decade…at least.

Sure, he says some outlandish things every now and then, but we need to keep in mind that he’s only making up for lost time. After all, Kanye West as an artist only represents the latter half of his entire career. He spent a lot of time behind the scenes as a producer (he appears at the end of the 2001 Jay-Z “Izzo” video), and waited patiently for his turn.

Now that he’s finally gotten the limelight, he’s making the most of it. It’s hard to get that mad at him, even though he might be a borderline megalomaniac.

Anyway, at this juncture, West has put together quite an impressive catalogue of music. With so many different phases of his career, it’s not uncommon for fans to differ over which songs they consider to be his best.

I’m well aware of this, and so instead of my usual self-ranking of these things, I reached out for help. I got an overwhelmingly helpful response from my peers on Facebook, and they had a lot more to do with the construction of this list than I did.

I did exercise some veto power with the specific rankings, but this is only because I tried to balance the personal tastes of those who contributed with overall quality.

Alrighty, let’s get this party started with 20-16:


20. Hey Mama—Late Registration

The reason why many (like me) prefer Kanye’s earlier work is because of the way every track was bursting at the seams with genuine soul.

You’ll perhaps never find a better example than this particular effort, which is an ode to West’s own mother. It’s hard not to hear Kanye open himself up about his mom without getting choked up while thinking of your own.

It’s this sort of “happy sadness”, created in-part by fabulous production and a sweet-as-candy beat, which helped West gain momentum early on in his career.

Tragically, this song’s weight was duplicated by the death of Kanye’s beloved mother only two years later.




19. Homecoming—Graduation

For you true-blue Kanye aficionados, it’s no secret that fellow rapper Common has had quite the influence on West and his career.

Perhaps more well-hidden is the fact this romantic love song for Kanye’s hometown of Chicago is a revival of Common’s classic “I Used To Love H.E.R.”.

From the opening lines to the metaphor of Chicago as a woman, Kanye masterfully took Common’s criticism of the rap industry and turned it into a celebration of the city who made him who he is today.

It’s also a song that I’m sure we’ve all blasted on the way home at least once.




18. Black Skinhead—Yeezus

“Holy Shit”

That’s what my literal reaction was when I first heard this song, which is probably the same way that a few of you reacted to this raw five-knuckle assault of a track.

If there’s any upside to Kanye’s later works, it’s that he began to operate with zero fear of how his music would be received.

Black Skinhead is bold, in-your-face, experimental, and unapologetically relevant.

It also displays the best aspect of the Yeezus album as a whole: the pinnacle of a Hip-Hop producing talent that we may very well never see again.  




17. We Don’t Care—The College Dropout

Since it’s the very first actual track listed in West’s discography, this ode to the beautiful struggle has been disappointingly overlooked.

It’s lighthearted, catchy, and—most importantly—a big “f*ck you” to the oppressive system that we still find a way to overcome.

The lead track of College Dropout is also one of the funniest songs in the West catalogue, with hilarious lines like “Cause ain’t no tuition for having no ambition/ And ain’t no loans for sittin’ your ass at home” sprinkled around some hard-hitting content like “Look what was handed us/ Fathers abandoned us”

This is one of my personal favorites, for its ability to have us looking at our own struggles with a triumphant smile.



16. Slow Jamz—The College Dropout

This track undoubtedly is deserving of the “fan favorite” label above all others.

Regardless of how high Kanye’s career has climbed, and how complex his content has become, there’s something about this song’s innocence that finds itself in the hearts of fans around the world.

I give a lot of credit to a chorus that has become immortal through the power of drunken sing-alongs. It was also an experience that gave most of us a big “Welcome” to Jaime Foxx’s singing abilities.

…and then there’s the oddly tolerable frenzy of a verse by Twista. Attempts to recite the man’s delivery rate is always a fun exercise in futility.


Check back tomorrow for numbers 15-11!

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