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What more can be said about one Kanye Omari West that hasn’t been uttered to your face over the last several years (or minutes, for that matter), furiously typed for display on a computer screen, or yelled aloud from the mouth of West himself. In the ten years since his seminal debut, Kanye was gone on to be music’s savior, awards shows’ worst nightmare, politically outspoken pundit, one of fashion’s most emulated magnates, and a future Kardashian in-law. He’s probably done more today than we’ve done in a week, but I’m digressing.
Kanye West – All Falls Down f. Syleena Johnson
With an appropriated Lauryn Hill sample, the video for the College Dropout single can be summed up in two words: Stacey Dash. Hey, the song’s not that bad either.
Kanye West – Spaceship f. GLC & Consequence
A great song about the trials and tribulations of the Average Joe got an equally grandiose video…that took nearly five years to drop. Worth the wait, however.
Kanye West – Never Let Me Down f. JAY Z & J. Ivy
Back when Kanye was more introspective than Isabel Marant, he and Jay — which would be the start of many, many collaborations from the two — concocted this understated cut from West’s 2004 debut. Pharrell’s reaction to Kanye’s verse pretty much explains how we all felt when we all first heard it.
Kanye West – Two Words f. Mos Def, Freeway & The Boys Choir of Harlem
In the earlier stages of his rapping career, Kanye would easily skate between the mainstream and underground worlds. This standout from his debut album bridged that gap, and had every bourgeois bottle-popper and Jansport-rocking backpacker alike bobbing their heads.
Slum Village – Selfish f. Kanye West & John Legend
The Detroit veterans landed their biggest hit with this Aretha Franklin-sampled smash from their 2004 album Detroit Deli (A Taste of Detroit). A sly ode to the lovely ladies of the world, this song made it perfectly okay to two-step around the club like it was nobody’s business.
Kanye West – Drive Slow f. Paul Wall & GLC
During Texas’ screw music invasion of rap in the mid-Aughts, Kanye tried his hand at the genre with this slow-moving (no pun intended) single from Late Registration. Having Paul Wall riding shotgun was one thing, but paying tribute to the late DJ Screw by slurring out the final seconds of the song was just magical.
Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) f. JAY Z
One of the few times where the remix was better than the original, Kanye’s blood diamond rant on this cut was priceless. Plus, Memphis Bleek’s career hasn’t been the same since Jay’s verse.
Kanye West – Gone f. Consequence & Cam’ron
During his tenure on Roc-A-Fella, Killa Cam and Kanye — in their short period working together — made the most of their time, crafting a small litany of bangers. To this day we still wonder what could have been if Cam and ‘Ye worked together more.
Kanye West – Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Kanye’s first Graduation single, was just that: progression toward to bombastic. He exemplified his “stadium-status” aspirations for the album with this single, and those sampled Young Jeezy ad-libs were just the icing on the cake.
Kanye West – Paranoid f. Mr. Hudson
Yeezy’s first foray into weird-hop with 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak was an interesting one so to speak. It was akin to caviar: either you enjoyed it, or you didn’t stomach it. Regardless, the album did produce this highlight, which sounds straight from the synth-pop worlds of ‘80s groups INXS, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran.
Rick Ross – Live Fast, Die Young f. Kanye West
This track was supposed to land on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but Rick took it for his own Teflon Don. Ultimately, the two would reunite again on “Devil In A New Dress.” Side trivia: Kanye’s “Runaway” borrows heavily from “Live Fast, Die Young.”
Kanye West & JAY Z – The Joy f. Pete Rock, KiD CuDi, & Charlie Wilson
Anchored by a vintage Pete Rock backdrop and a beautiful Curtis Mayfield sample, the Watch The Throne closer was a perfect way to end the album.