I’m incredibly sad to be missing the San Jose leg of the YEEZUS Tour today. Like any disciple of the YEEZUS Doctrine (tenets include, Love Thyself as Much as Yeezus Loves Himself) I got my tickets the day they went on sale. But sometimes, more urgent and important engagements come up. While I cannot complain, because I’m excited to be heading to Mexico for an important event, I’m nonetheless saddened to miss Kanye.
So I thought I’d share my favorite collabs to atleast keep myself in the Kanye hoopla of this week. Let me know what you think!
Kanye has a long and rich history of collaborative work. From Chitown homies like Common and Twista to icons Nas and Jay-Z, Kanye has worked with the best of them. So picking my favorites is by no means an easy task. In order to convey the vibrant and eclectic range of his work, it’s imperative that no more than one song from each “Kanye Era” make the list.
Some you may know, others may be new to you, but I hope you enjoy.
“So Appalled” Kanye West ft: Jay-Z, CyHi Da Prince, Swizz Beats, The RZA, Pusha T
Great song, but has one too many guest stars on it makes it difficult to process and pinpoint standout verses. Too much of a good thing.
“Never Let Me Down” Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, J. Ivy
In an album with social commentary, Kanye and Hova’s hookup fails to make the list through no fault of it’s own.
“Touch The Sky” Kanye West ft. Lupe Fiasco
The mainstream’s introduction to Skateboard Lu! When I was making this list no less than 5 people told me that this is a MUST. Well if it’s a must, then maybe I’ll save a spot for a track you haven’t heard. Yes, I just did that.
It’s hard to believe that in this 2003 track that Kanye was the unknown up and comer. You could hear it in his voice, as he seems to run out of breath at times, trying to keep up with Rap heavyweights like Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Jay Z. It’s rare that a remix supersedes the impact of an original track, especially when the original “Get By” was phenomenal, but Jay Z, Mos and co drop street knowledge on Kanye’s beat and change the meaning of this track. Many a time this approach fails, but not here.
A singing Kanye West? Sounds like the roots for what would become “808s and Heartbreaks” were planted here. Kanye raps about working and being fired from The Gap, while future label mates GLC and Consequence recite their tales of being up and comers. In an album filled with social commentary (All Falls Down, Jesus Walks) and bravado (Two Words, New Work Out Plan) then “Spaceship” falls somewhere in the middle as the closest thing to a street anthem from Kanye’s freshman effort.
Chicago, Detroit, Lions and Bears oh my! J. Dilla inspired Slum Village and Kanye hook up to deliver a groovy track featuring the Kon Man’s signature soul sound.
After some Detroit Deli, Kanye linked up with LA based Dilated Peoples to deliver a powerful ode to personal change. This song gets a special nod for having my favorite Kanye line of all time. “I wasn’t really spitting game, I was scrimmaging.” Great message, fun track.
Cam’ron has long been one of Kanye’s favorite rappers. So following Kanye’s appearance on Cam’ron’s “Purple Haze”, Killa returned the favor and hopped on Kanye’s sophomore effort “Late Registration” Former GOOD Music Alum Consequence rounds out the trifecta. The result? One of the standout and bounciest tracks from the classic album.
PS, listen to Kanye’s final verse.
Common and Kanye have a long collaborative history. Picking one from their rich catalog was hard enough. But “Southside” gets the mention because it won a Grammy and was the Superbowl anthem a few years back.
This 2008 track was the first piece of work that Kanye had released since his mother’s unfortunate passing in November of 2007. You could hear his anger, bravado and gusto in this Jeezy track. It’s the perfect street anthem and we get to hear a different, visceral part of Kanye that we wouldn’t hear again until the famous 2009 VMA Incident.
Whenever I’m feeling sad, confused, or anything really, I put this on. Everything about this song is perfect. Even Big Sean manages to have a decent outing in this go. It’s my favorite track off of Kanye ‘s 2010 “GOOD Friday” Series. If you haven’t heard it yet, do it know. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood once you hear this track.
Technically, an abbreviated version of this song also appeared as a GOOD Friday track. However, the final version that would appear on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” features a guitar solo and a Rick Ross verse. I was concerned that the additions would ruin an otherwise great song, but The Boss and the guitar took this song from great to perfect. I feel like I’m watching a movie every time I hear Kanye croon on the track.
Only Kanye West would think “hey you know who would go great together? Justin Vernon and Chief Keef.” And you know what? It works. I have no idea what Justin Vernon is saying on half of his tracks but all I know is that I love it. I want him to leave my voicemail message. Even if he’s just mumbling inaudible sounds (like here) it will still sound angelic. Keef on the other hand serves a counterbalance to Kanye’s vulnerability. He may only be 18, but on “Hold My Liquor” he sounds like he’s about to take on a street gang by himself. I hope to buy him a shot when he turns 21.
So there you have it. Now it’s your turn, what songs would you add or remove? Tell me why! I’m making a “Best of YEEZY” playlist to cry myself to sleep later.