Kanye West’s top 10 songs

Maya Nayak, A&E Editor

Kanye West is frequently labeled by some as a musical genius with nearly unparalleled artistic vision and by others, as an egotistical maniac. His outbursts and contentious claims have led to his controversiality in the music industry. Despite this, rather than placate the masses with inoffensive music in order to achieve more commercial success, West capitalizes on his unpredictable and uncouth image, utilizing it to garner a rabid fanbase appreciative of his realness and apparent disregard for losing popularity as a result of his often unpopular opinions. In his music, West often explores and illuminates social issues such as racism, police brutality and gun violence. Throughout his distinguished career, West continues to transform what being an artist means in 2018 by producing a number of classics redefining rap music, notably with the following 10 songs.

10. “Ghost Town” ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR

“Ghost Town” is one of the few standout songs in an otherwise mildly disappointing album, Ye. “Ghost Town” is a far cry from the well thought out, perfectionistic previous Kanye works, but it redeems itself with well-balanced and effective collaborations with Kid Cudi and 070 Shake. Its obscure sampling of “Take Me For a Little While” by the Royal Jesters is classic Kanye and establishes that a remnant of the old Kanye is still there post “poopy di-scoop.”

9. “Heartless”

808s & Heartbreak features distant and detached production, owing to its creation in the aftermath of West’s mother’s passing away. “Heartless” encompasses this theme of the album with its heavily autotuned vocals. Kanye’s rapping is regrettably not featured, but “Heartless” serves to display diversity in Kanye’s discography by showing that Kanye does not always view himself as godlike and is not confined as an artist to rapping.

8. “Reborn” ft. KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Louis Prima

KIDS SEE GHOSTS, a duo consisting of Kanye West and Kid Cudi, quickly dissipated fears that Kanye had lost his touch with their self-titled album. West’s verse on this is the best of all his 2018 projects, and Cudi’s hook is nothing short of enthralling. The duo uses “Reborn” as an opportunity to, among other things, aid in removing the stigma against mental health in rap music. “Reborn” shows confusion but ultimately offers a path forward, in how Kanye and Cudi promise to “keep movin’ forward” despite adversity.

7. “Touch the Sky” ft. Lupe Fiasco

The horns and drums that continuously repeat in “Touch the Sky” on West’s 2005 album Late Registration make for one of the most memorable melodies in Kanye West’s discography. It lacks any complex themes or clever juxtaposition, but that hardly matters. “Touch the Sky” is inspirational and invigorating, perhaps showing that we all can aspire to one day achieve true success and  “touch the sky” as Kanye believes he has done.

6. “Good Life” ft. T-Pain

“Good Life,” from Kanye’s third studio album, Graduation, has an uplifting and energizing melody. A well-integrated T-Pain feature establishes it as one of the most iconic sounds in West’s discography. It fosters profound contentment in the listener, and that carefree feeling alone is sufficient rationale for it to make the top 10.

5. “Ultralight Beam”

“Ultralight Beam” is one of the few tracks on The Life of Pablo that managed to exemplify the album’s promised gospel nature. “Ultralight Beam” displays West’s profound faith in God, but cleverly intersperses social commentary. Chance the Rapper’s feature is arguably one of Kanye’s best guest verses yet, and his rapid quip that he plans on “moving all [his] family from Chatham to Zambia,” reflecting how Chicago’s murder rate is higher than Zambia’s despite being more developed, serves to further illuminate social issues to the listeners.

4. “Gold Digger” ft. Jamie Foxx

This record-breaking pop culture phenomenon from Late Registration featuring Jamie Foxx is often at the forefront of people’s minds when they think of Kanye. Kanye’s flow and delivery is at its best and the accompanying riveting percussion contributes to a song that is undoubtedly engineered to get stuck in your head. The lyrics are humorous in the most Kanye way possible, and the end product is so brilliant and ridiculous that it could in no way be left off of a list of Kanye’s greatest hits.

3. “Homecoming” ft. Chris Martin

“Homecoming” was by no means West’s most popular song on his 2007 album Graduation, but it is undeniably one of the most remarkable points in his discography. His artful utilization of an extended metaphor to pay homage to Chicago coupled with contrasting soothing vocals from Coldplay’s lead vocalist, Chris Martin, make “Homecoming” both a tribute to his continued love for Chicago and to his penchant for lyricism.

2. “All Falls Down” ft. Syleena Johnson

West’s critique of materialism in society and his reflection on his own self-consciousness is one of the highlights of his career despite being from just his first album, The College Dropout. Here, Kanye is in his purest form, untouched by fame and its pitfalls, offering truthful social commentary in the use of possessions to hide insecurities. Its message, accompanied by acoustic guitar and endearing vocals, contribute to a song that is both thought-provoking and nostalgic.

1. “Runaway” ft. Pusha T

The opening lines of “Runaway” pan between the two speakers, creating an environment for the listener that is both mesmerizing and confusing, both beautiful and twisted, just as the album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy suggests. It leads into a nine minute, self-deprecating apology in which West comments on criticism aimed at him. Pusha T’s verse serves as a well-crafted juxtaposition to Kanye’s sincere musings, and West’s gradual descent into inaudibility as a result of extensive Autotune perhaps symbolizes his belief that the media distorts what he says until it is no longer reflective of what he means. Though Kanye reflects on and appears critical of how he “always find[s] something wrong,” “Runaway” is clearly the work of a perfectionist, suggesting that he has no intention to change his ways, but rather is content with only acknowledging them.