The Rundown: The Best Of Kanye West

Above: Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Kanye West has delivered some of the best music of the 21st century
The Rundown The Best of Kanye West

There are a lot of ways to describe Kanye West and for a lot of people, the top few offering on such a list are not polite.

He’s a dude that is easy to dislike because he says a lot of ridiculous things, is an admitted egomaniac, is married to Kim Kardashian, asked Mark Zuckerberg for a billion dollars (on Twitter!) and so on and so forth. But before everything, Kanye was and remains an artist and whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that he has delivered some of the best music of the 21st century – and that’s just his efforts as a solo artist; that’s not including the work he’s done as a producer or showing up on someone else’s record and outshining the them.

Here’s a sampling of some of his best work.

“Through the Wire” (College Dropout, 2004)

Recorded just a few weeks after a car accident nearly claimed West’s life, he literally recorded with this through the wire as his jaw was wired shut. The Chaka Khan sample and pop culture references were just a sign of things to come.

“Jesus Walks” (College Dropout, 2004)

“They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus.
That means guns, sex, lies, videotape
But if you rap about God, your record won’t get played. Huh?
Well if this take away from my spins
Which’ll probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sin
And bring the day that I’m dreamin’ bout
Next time I’m in the club, everybody screamin’ out”

“Two Words” (College Dropout, 2004)

This collaboration with Mos Def and Freeway was a perfect showcase of the two sides that were tugging at West early in his career – the smart, backpacker hip hop set and the materialistic, money and fame side. He played the middle and delivered an underrated gem that stands up strong more than a decade later.

“Touch the Sky” (Late Registration, 2005)

Those Horns + Lupe Fiasco + Kanye brimming with confidence = the standout track from his sophomore effort. College Dropout was surprising because the masses didn’t see Kanye as a rapper, but Late Registration is where you had to press pause and wonder if this dude might be one of the best in the game and this track contributed to that line of thinking.

“Stronger” (Graduation, 2007)

His most commercially successful track to date, “Stronger” is a seven-times platinum track that hit like a sonic boom in the summer of 2007 with its Daft Punk sample and “The Christian in Christian Dior” throwing down the gauntlet.

“Can’t Tell Me Nothing” (Graduation, 2007)

Complex deemed it Kanye’s best track to date and it is definitely in the mix near the top of the list. It’s a terrific representation of his progression as an artist while continuing to showcase how deft he can be with his lyrics, plus the Jeezy ad-libs are perfect.

“Amazing” (808s & Heartbreak, 2008)

Who knew a simplistic, hypnotic beat and auto-tuned West with a guest verse from Jeezy could blend together to be such an outstanding effort? Well, Kanye did, which is why he put this gem together and dropped it on the world.

“Monster” (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010)

In terms of the verses on this track, no one can argue that Nicki Minaj steals the show with bars that have now been Carpool Karaoke’d by Adele, but that’s one of the reasons it makes this list. Plenty of artists would be hesitant to let someone out-shine them on their own track (and Kanye has done it to plenty of folks in the past), but he just put together this posse cut and let Nicki do her thing.

“N***** in Paris” (Watch the Throne, 2011)

Kanye and Jay-Z teamed up on Watch the Throne and this was one of the masterpieces to come from the album, even if it introduced “cray” into the lexicon. Including a snippet from Blades of Glory (“No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative”) nearly three minutes in is both completely random and a perfect fit because this song does indeed get the people going.

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