Kanye West may not be considered the best rapper in the world, but he is for sure one of the most famous polarizing figures in the rap industry. His unforgettable incident at the VMAs involving Taylor Swift, his guerrilla marketing with Yeezus, and Paul McCartney collaborations are some of the innumerable things that people can never forget apart from his music.
West won his first Grammy for Best Rap Album (The College Dropout), Best Rap Song (Jesus Walks) at the 47th Grammy Awards, and Best Solo Performance for Stronger at the 50th Grammy Awards. West is one of the most distinguished hip-hop artists in history, having 21 Grammys. He is matched with Jay Z as the most awarded hip-hop artist.
So, on the special occasion of his birthday, here are his top 5 of his best songs:
Ni**as in Paris
The music video comes with a warning that it can trigger seizures in photosensitive epilepsy patients. Peaking at No. 5, 3 million digital units sold, and dozens upon dozens of gigs of the same track at each leg of his “Watch the Throne” tour with Jay Z, Kanye made a mark for himself with this song.
A religious, anguished, profanity-laced rant on racial injustice, sin, and the entertainment industry, set to an army march, Jesus Walks is a much-loved song by Kanye. For a few months, Middle America undoubtedly assumed Kanye was a religious rapper, at least until “Gold Digger” debuted. “Jesus Walks” was his third consecutive Top 20 hit during the “College Dropout” cycle.
Everyone in America now knows who Daft Punk is, having just celebrated their breakup, but back in 2007, most casual music enthusiasts had no notion who they were. Kanye sampled their 2001 song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” for his smash track “Stronger.” The song quickly went to number one, and Daft Punk even made a surprise television appearance to perform it with him at the 2008 Grammys. It marked the start of the group’s ascension to worldwide popularity.
In “Heartless,” Kanye pulls away from the hipsterism and inflated positivity of his prior releases in favour of a Roland-808 drum machine and autotuned melody. In direct contradiction to the warming beats and old-school hip-hop rhythms he’s employed previously, he’s theatrical, icy, and aloof here, telling us that, though he’s at the pinnacle of the rap game in 2008.
The tune revolves around a single eerie piano note. His voice is mangled beyond comprehension at the ending. It is Kanye’s way of saying that no one can comprehend him or perhaps even hear what he’s saying.
The track appears to be fiercely uncommercial, but it reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Main Image: Brittanicca