Ah, it seems we’re finally having the much overdue Kanye West cross-genre collab discussion. Am I excited to have this yarn!!
If we take a look at Kanye as an artist, we saw him rise to fame in the 2000’s after producing Jay Z’s album Blueprint in 2001 and releasing his own EP, College Dropout (2004). Since then he’s truly been everywhere and has certainly had his fair share of time in the media – we all remember his public response to the Government’s hand in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the whole Taylor Swift v Beyoncé debacle.
When he’s not in the media spotlight for doing or saying something outrageous, Kanye has been consistent in his effort to experiment with genres and collab with a variety of different artists. Within the music world we are seeing the lines between genres become increasingly blurred, and it seems Kanye may have had the jump on this before everyone else started to catch on.
Check out some of his best collabs (in our opinion) below – open to debate of course!
N in Paris with Jay Z
To be fair, the entirety of the Kanye West-Jay Z album Watch The Throne could make this list of favourite Kanye collab’s. But, limitations must be had. We’ll stick with this masterpiece track of incredible lyrical proficiency. It has a beat you can’t ignore, and it sounds like these two friends were just wholeheartedly having a blast in the studio. If you have to take over the aux anytime soon and need to quickly please an unforgiving and slightly intoxicated crowd, ramp up ‘N in Paris’ – it will never die.
Touch The Sky with Lupe Fiasco
“I gotta testify
Come up in the spot lookin’ extra fly
‘Fore the day I day, I’ma touch the sky”
Still remember the first time you heard these lyrics? It was a day to remember in late 2005. Indeed it may be one of Kanye’s more commercial singles, but let’s not underrate it. It’s a gem, and one of the most well-produced songs of Late Registration. Tough gig to mess up when the sample track is flawless.
I Love It with Lil Pump ft. Adele Givens
Try listening without moving. Go.
Homecoming with Chris Martin
The Chris Martin from Coldplay, that is. Homecoming was a rework of some demo tape in 2001; finally released in 2008 with the last song on the album being Graduation. The instrumental is pretty whack – you’ve got piano, a rigorous drum-beat and a weighty bass line. How this works I don’t know, but this tune was played in the flat when I was working on this very list and we’ve decided in should definitely show face more often – we may just swap ‘Chi-City’ to ‘AKL-City’. No regrets.
Four Five Seconds with Rihanna and Paul McCartney
What happens when a rap-king, the princess of club hits and a world-famous Beatle walks into a bar? This song.
Clique with Jay Z and Big Sean
Getting real decent flashbacks with this one of going out with the team and feeling invincible. The song (from album Cruel Summer) boasts a plodding beat and the rap trifecta provides us with a chorus impossible not to repeat back. Let’s hear it.
Heard ‘Em Say with Adam Levine
I love this track with my soul. Levine and Kanye are like… I don’t know. Pay day. It’s a syrupy-melody forever welcome on the playlist, evoking a sense of wonderment and hope for the struggling, worried about living to see another day. Heard ‘Em Say is a classic case of a topical issue told through the hopeful eyes and ears of someone who wishes to push their listeners through a difficult time. Top work from Levine and West on this one.
U Mad with Vic Mensa
Who ran the ASB Auckland Marathon on the weekend? After a running track? This one’s got your heavy bass for the killer hills. U Mad is very much my kind of beat to play whilst getting ready for a night on the town too… Listen below (as per) if you’ve forgotten the feeling.
Wolves with Frank Ocean, Vic Mensa and Sia
Kanye carries on the Yeezus tradition of taking a great beat and spewing genius all over it. Sia seems to follow suit and blend into this soundscape, Frank Ocean and Vic Mensa fitting perfectly in between. It’s got a haunting aura to it for sure, especially with the howls, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a bad headspace.
Does the job though, makes you feel something.
Ghost Town with 070 Shake, John Legend and Kid Cudi
A standout on his (unsettling) 2018 album, ‘Ye’, which declares he indeed has manic-depressive bipolar disorder with the cover reading: “I hate being bi-polar it’s awesome”. This collaboration feels like it falls apart before your very ears; which is purposeful (I hope) given the mental health themes throughout the album. If I was to critique it anyway, I’d freely admit it’s a little ‘mumbly’ at times – but that feature only highlights the purity of the lyrics. Favourite line is a no brainer, 070 Shake’s “And nothing hurts anymore, I feel kind of free”.
Mercy with Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz
This song did real well on the charts and likewise, does real well through the air pods. Sonically, Mercy is said to blend “Southern rap elements with dancehall vibes”. It was the hugest summer hit of 2012 and doesn’t do badly for a good throwback.
So there we have it folks. Our favourite Kanye collabs! We’re hoping to get Kanye’s new album this month – let’s see what else we can add to the list. For now, have a listen to more of his best tracks below.