Thank You Kanye West, The Greatest Musician Of The 2010s
As Kanye West crashes and burns at the end of a very busy year, a year that finds some flies in the popstars ointment: the first album of the year since I started this website where his current release won’t be the album of the year, the first concerts he (would have) been performing in nyc I was planning to pass on even as he cancelled them. An MSG gig that paled before his one during the Yeezus tour, and a Meadows gig that was as deeply depressing as anything I’ve ever seen.That’s not to mention, because I don’t care about, his paranoia mixed with fashion persona, culminating in his endorsement of President Elect Trump. Of course, a quick listen to “New Day” should have warned me.
Meanwhile, the MSG set was pretty good, The Life Of Pablo was at least in my top three albums of the year and I am still not convinced that “Ultralight Beam” isn’t superior to “Make America Great Again” by Pussy Riot. With the possible exception of Tomas Doncker, whose past three years have been exceptional themselves but hasn’t gotten commercial traction, and maybe Chance The Rapper (who has another three years to catch up, of course), and MAYBE Beyonce, close -but I’d give it to Yeez, the greatest of the 2010s.
This is less a beginners course and more a personal faves, more or less in order of preference. Very little from his first albums, it is mostly 2008 and on. If you have Spotify, enjoy…
Runaway – Steve Crawford dubbed this the best song of the 2010s and he may well be right, an impeccable, dirty mouthed, exploitation and explanation of sexism and love in the rap game, which Pusha T almost steals.
Ultralight Beam – Kanye West as music builder in a league with Max Martin, building songs up and up and up. Only West has, you know, soul.
Hey Mama – For those who believe West to be a shallow, egotistic, talentless nutcase, take this ode to his mother and singalong to the “let me tell you what i’m about to do…” hook.
Can’t Tell Me Nothing – WAIT TILL I GET MY MONEY RIGHT!!!
Black Skinhead – When he performed this on SNL, the Kanye West faction splintered, but Lou Reed compared it to Metal Machine Music.
Power – The best bit is where he is driving drunk, the second best bit is where he contemplates suicide.
Robocop – This was Kanye West mired in deep depression, which would last for the entire 808s And Heartbreaks. “That’s a good one, your first good one in awhile” he tells the girl as she leaves him, in the hope it is all a joke. The strings tell you other.
Love Lockdown – Same album, a world conquering soul blast.
Gold Digger – A commercial smash hit that sent him through the stratosphere.
Fourfiveseconds – A Rihanna song, with Kweezy and Sir Paul.
Stronger – The ego bearing , chest pounding, arena rocker of your dreams.
Monster – Forget Kanye on this one, it gave the world Nicki Minaj.
Wolves – When I saw him perform this with Vic Mensa and Sia, I just about lost my mind. This version takes away Sia and adds Frank Ocean. I’d prefer both.
I Love Kanye – When I went to the listening party, West was over the moon and for good reason. This should have been the theme song to the happy Kanye. Incidentally, at the Pablo concert, same venue last September, he was in a terrific mood as well, didn’t lecture us and couldn’t stop smiling.
I Am A God – where are his croissants? Forget god, “the only rapper compared to Michael”.
Blame Game – In which Kanye re-upholsters Chris Rock’s girlfriend’s pussy and Chris thanks him for it.
Pinocchio Story (Freestyle In Japan) – An astonishing performance, with Kanye insisting he wants to be a real boy and the fans screaming inappropriately.
That Part – A Schoolboy Q track that’s the part Kanye does like.
Famous – I didn’t include “Blood On The Leaves” here, but this is a similar mix of the sublime and the profane.
Coldest Winter – The saddest song he has ever written, supposedly for his ex, but really for his late Mom.
On Sight – The most incredible sound Kanye has ever constructed, a brain snapping power zone of art tweets and vigorous smackdown.
Jesus Walks – Always ripe for religion, if you don’t read Jay Z’s credits, this dream song set Kanye West on the road.