Music Monday Playlist: Kanye Classics

BY ASIA RIDDICK

Kick off your week by diving into our Music Monday Playlist: Kanye Classics. We’ve featured 18 songs from the legendary rapper and producer. His catalog speaks for itself so, check it out below and let us know what some of your favorite Kanye classics are. This playlist is not in any particular order. 

1. “Jesus Walks,” The College Dropout (2004)

“Jesus Walks” hands down is probably the ultimate Kanye classic. The melodic tune opening with, “We at war, we at war with terrorism, racism but most of all we at war with ourselves,” sets the tone for the story he tells - a story of faith, trial, and self-discovery. For years to come, this anthem would be esteemed as one of Ye’s most potent tracks and it's safe to say it is. 

2. “Everything I Am (feat. DJ Premier),” Graduation (2007) 

A rather underrated song from his Graduation album, “Everything I Am” without a doubt serves as a moment for clarity, not only for Kanye but all those who listen. With piano keys weaved into the bassline of the song, we are taken on a nostalgic trip. Through this lens, Kanye showcases a vulnerability different than what we’ve ever seen, evoking a fervent emotion amongst listeners. 

3. “Hear ‘Em Say (feat. Adam Levine),” Late Registration (2005)

With an analysis of the cycles of poverty and institutionalized racism Kanye’s “Heard em’ Say” featuring Adam Levine is Kanye as we know him – speaking exactly what is on his mind. One of the many things we love about his artistry is the fact that he doesn’t refrain or censor his self to be politically correct. Galling to some, Kanye ignites a much-needed dialogue on conversations that often go unnoticed. “Heard em’ Say” is a representation of the type of music Hip-Hop needs. 

4. “Homecoming (feat. Chris Martin),” Graduation (2007)

About the Windy City of Chicago, West raps about his hometown – an ode if you will. Often confused to be rapping about a girl, West in “Homecoming” metaphorically explains his relationship with his City. A rather introspective piece the track is met with a feature from Chris Martin who sings the chorus. 

5. “Street Lights,” 808s & Heartbreak (2008)

A vibe that’s essentially unmatched is the feeling “Street Lights” give off, simple yet, so beautiful, comforting and blissful all at once. Peaceful and perfect wrapped in one!

6. “Two Words (feat. Mos Def, Freeway & The Harlem Boys),” The College Dropout (2004)

“Two Words,” is two words, an undervalued masterpiece. This goes beyond music, this track is us witnessing art in its purest form. Featuring Mos Def, Freeway and The Harlem Boys this track is what real Hip-Hop looks like.   

7. “Gone (feat. Consequence & Cam’Ron),” Late Registration (2005)

With a sampled vocal from Otis Redding’s version of Chuck Willis’ “It’s Too Late” the song starts off with “But it’s too late, it’s too late/ He gone”. Brilliantly engineered and mixed, this track features Consequence and Cam’Ron who kill their verses. Yet another slept on track. 

8. “Lost In The World (feat. Bon Iver),” My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) 

Ahead of his time, Kanye showcased beautifully in his lyrics as well as visual for “Lost in the World” his artistic genius. Not many will ever truly understand the emotional depth of his struggle or the intricate nature of the messages he conveys throughout his music. Touching to the soul the dulcet beauty mixed with the potency this song possesses is evidence of his timelessness.

9. “Hey Mama,” Late Registration (2005) 

Written in honor and appreciation of his mother, “Hey Mama” is a personal song of nostalgic childhood memories and promise-filled verses of a better life for his mother who deserves the world. Sampling Donal Leace’s “Today Won’t Come Again,” Kanye’s tribute to his mother Donda was heart-wrenching and powerful in the significance it holds. 

10. “Welcome To Heartbreak (feat. Kid Cudi),” 808s & Heartbreak (2008)

Can we just say that the world was not ready for 808s & Heartbreak when it first came out? Even today the entire album is pretty underrated, specifically “Welcome To Heartbreak” – the track which features Kid Cudi. An undervalued gem, this track which talks about heartbreak in regards to his previous relationship and the passing of his mother is followed by a masterful music video directed by Nabil Elderkin that was truly ahead of its time. 

11. “White Dress,” The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

“White Dress” is undoubtedly one of Ye’s hidden gems – a more romantic tune encased for the martial arts film The Man with the Iron Fists. With a soul beat, this song makes you appreciate the artist Kanye is even more.   

12. “Paranoid (feat. Mr. Hudson),” 808s & Heartbreak (2008) 

A classic, “Paranoid” featuring Mr. Hudson gives off an 80’s beat and is an account of how incredibly amazing 808s & Heartbreak is. Seemingly light-hearted at surface level, the song if you dove deep enough actually shows signs of being slightly dysphoric. Another remarkable ahead of his time Kanye piece. 

13. “Spaceship (feat. GLC & Consequence),” The College Dropout (2004)

This song is one of those songs you listen to when you need to get away from everything for a moment – an escape from the frustrations and madness of life. A mellow groove that many of us can relate to, “Spaceship” is a place we can all identify with at one point or another in our lives.

14. “Touch the Sky (feat. Lupe Fiasco),” Late Registration (2005) 

Not only is “Touch The Sky” a classic but, the video that follows is iconic. Featuring the talented Lupe Fiasco, the song samples the late great Curtis Mayfield's 1970 Funk classic, “Move On Up”. Rapping about his triumphs in overcoming his struggles and doubts Mr. West readily proclaims his flyness. Headlining the legendary Pamela Anderson, Nia Long, and Tracee Ellis Ross, the video briefly takes us back in time as West is seen portraying Evel Knievel. Foreshadowing what was to come, this song definitely displays that Kanye was true to his word as his success proves. 

15. “Good Life (feat. T-Pain),” Graduation (2007)

Produced by Ye and DJ Toomp “Good Life,” an uplifting tune celebrating the finer things life has to offer features the exuberant T-Pain. The duo while acknowledging their success, bask in this moment they’ve worked so hard to attain with Ye stating, “50 told me, go ‘head switch the style up, and if they hate, then let em’ hate, and watch the money pile up”. Clearly, he’s unbothered - focused on his music and his money.  

16. “Get Em High (feat. Talib Kweli & Common),” The College Dropout (2004)

That moment when the beat pauses and Ye goes acapella then transfers right back into the beat with “…like alcholics” then, with “…out of college” seamlessly was nothing short of Ye doing what he does best. Kanye definitely chopped it up on this track along with Talib and Common - an ode to old Kanye without a doubt. 

17. “Through the Wire,” The College Dropout (2004) 

Laying down verses through a wired shut jaw are the types of things legends do – and Ye is indeed a clear representation of that. After having a near-death experience back in 2002 Ye showed no signs of letting his car wreck get in the way of making fire music, reciting “spit my soul through the wire,” which is exactly what he did. Sampling Chaka Khan’s 1985 “Through the Fire” single, “Through the Wire” is a beautifully crafted masterpiece of funk and soul.  

18. “Crack Music (feat. The Game),” Late Registration (2005)

Kanye has never been the type to stray from political messages and “Crack Music” is evident of that. With lyricism that’s probably one of his most underrated by far his first verse opens with, “How we stop the black panthers? Ronald Reagan cooked up an answer”. Serving as a lyrically progressive form Kanye interchangeably speaks about the crack era in its effects on Black people and their communities as well as Hip-Hop becoming ‘the next crack’. Probably one of the deepest tracks on Late Registration this song features The Game and continues today to move conversations on America’s willingness to jump on anything so long it makes money. They’ve seemingly jumped on Hip-Hop, something they once saw as a negative thing. Kanye was right when he said, “this dark diction has become America’s addiction”.