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Top 10 Kanye West Songs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma. As a man, he may be polarizing, but it’s hard to deny Yeezy’s artistry when it comes to making music. For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kanye West Songs. Special thanks to our users LJG8000, Matt Rappaport, antonius1903, Conor Wade, connornm321, Shaun Anderson, Al Bebak, Rengle, Alex Mackenzie, aldqbigsquare, BlackJ19982016, Zach Lerner-Sinsheimer and Alex Canas for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Tiffany Ezuma.

As a man he may be polarizing, but it’s hard to deny Yeezy’s artistry when it comes to making music. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kanye West Songs.

For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs.

#10: “Through the Wire”
The College Dropout (2004)

The story behind this song is almost mythic in its origins. Created while he had his jaw wired shut following a car accident, Kanye West wrote this song to show Roc-A-Fella he deserved a chance to make his own record. The lyrics are deeply personal as he tells listeners of his struggles to be taken seriously as a rapper, and his need to create. “Through the Wire” wasn’t only innovative, but listeners also responded well to West’s ability to tell a coherent story and pack in references over a smooth beat.

#9: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”
Graduation (2007)

Perhaps one of his grittiest songs, this Graduation single serves as an anthem for those who try to rise up above the naysayers. Yeezy is angry as he raps about those who have doubted his success, and the inner demons he battles. Instead of letting self-doubt get the best of him though, he’s vicious as he tells the critics to wait and see his greatness. Featuring a melancholy beat, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” also contains background vocals by Sneaky Sound System’s Connie Mitchell and samples Young Jeezy, both of which give the track an eerie quality.

#8: “Heartless”
808s & Heartbreak (2008)

Say what you will about Auto-Tune, but Kanye really took the use of it to another level on this pop number by singing in a somber, monotone voice and lamenting the loss of a loved one. Even though it shouldn’t work, it does and there’s something strangely addictive about this song. Everything about “Heartless” is at odds; Yeezy’s tone is robotic, yet filled with emotion, the beat sounds like it should be a club banger but the lyrics are about a break-up. It’s also one of the best-selling digital singles ever.

#7: “Flashing Lights” feat. Dwele
Graduation (2007)

This song has grandness to it, which is a quality that Kanye has perfected in his music over the years. By referring to the camera flashes of the paparazzi, he created a song that aptly described the addictive quality of celebrity culture and how it can corrupt people and relationships. He raps over a chilled-out, synth-driven beat that gives “Flashing Lights” a sexy, glamorous vibe. The electronic meets R&B feel of the Graduation tune is also a sound he’s continued to curate over time and makes the track one of the album’s highlights.

#6: “All Falls Down” feat. Syleena Johnson
The College Dropout (2004)

This soul-influenced hip-hop number is one of the best demonstrations of Kanye’s skills as a storyteller. He tells the story of a young woman obsessed with unrealistic images of beauty and excessive wealth. The chorus is the heart of “All Falls Down,” and is filled with emotion and undeniable sadness about what unattainable goals can do to a person. It was a far cry from other rap songs on the radio, thereby marking his originality and Kanye’s first top ten hit in the U.S.

#5: “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”
Late Registration (2005)

This track serves as Kanye’s come-up tale, in which he describes signing with Roc-A-Fella Records and his perceived ego. He asks listeners to show their loyalty him and the label. Meanwhile, his sampling of the James Bond theme song from “Diamonds Are Forever” gives the Late Registration single an almost ethereal, throwback quality. While “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” took home the Grammy for Best Rap Song, its music video and the remix added a broader message about buying conflict-free diamonds.

#4: “Gold Digger” feat. Jamie Foxx
Late Registration (2005)

Arguably his most well-known song, this track has taken on almost-anthemic quality. It was everywhere when it first came out and it’s still a crowd pleaser at big events, even weddings, strangely enough. Sampling Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman,” Kanye creates an exemplary tale about being leery of those who only want money. With guest vocals by Jamie Foxx, “Gold Digger” held the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100’s chart, won him a Grammy, and has become of his best-selling singles.

#3: “Stronger”
Graduation (2007)

Sampling Daft Punk is always a good start. On this single, Kanye takes a sample of the French house duo’s “Harder, Better Faster, Stronger” and builds on its futuristic sound. With lyrics inspired by a well-known Friedrich Nietzsche quotation, the hip hop number gives Kanye his personal mantra for his pursuit of women and power. The song is the ultimate earworm—it’s catchy, fast-paced, and sounds out of this world. And let’s not forget his inventive rhyming of “Apollonia” and “Isotoners.”

#2: “Runaway” feat. Pusha T
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Heartbreaking from start to finish, this is one of Yeezy’s more personal tracks. Sonically, it’s different from his other songs because of its use of piano riffs mixed with various samples and a memorable guest spot by Pusha T. “Runaway”’s album version stretches over the course of nine minutes, giving listeners the chance to hear Kanye ruminate over his unsuccessful relationships as well as his troubled times with fame and the press. Kanye was so inspired by the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy track that it was accompanied by several short films of various lengths.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “All of the Lights” feat. Rihanna
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
- “Good Life” feat. T-Pain
Graduation (2007)
- “Black Skinhead”
Yeezus (2013)
- “Power”
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
- “Homecoming” feat. Chris Martin
Graduation (2007)

#1: “Jesus Walks”
The College Dropout (2004)

Kanye may have moved on to comparing himself to God, but throughout the course of his career, he always showed he wasn’t afraid to rap about touchy subjects like religion. The production of “Jesus Walks” is gorgeous, and features West rapping in an increasingly frantic tone as he proclaims his faith against an ominous beat. Complimented by a soaring chorus with backing vocals that sample the ARC Choir’s “Walk With Me,” The College Dropout single was a top 20 smash and earned him a Grammy for “Best Rap Song.”

Do you agree with our list? Which Kanye song do you think is superior? For more innovative Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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