Features and Featured: Kanye West
It’s always been what separates Kanye West from his peers.
Well, if we’re getting into this, I suppose you could also attribute West’s success to unparalleled ambition and an ability to spot a trend years before it manifests itself in popular art. But, what has always carried his albums from “best of the year” consideration to being labeled “instant classics” is his knack for using other artists perfectly within the parameters of each distinct album. Numerous featured artists have delivered the best work of their career on West albums, looking squarely at you King L, Big Sean and Cyhi the Prynce . With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best feature on each of Kanye West’s six solo albums.
Mos Def on “Two Words”, The College Dropout
Mos Def, following the “two word” structure, gets political, philosophical, and downright filthy on this gem from West’s debut LP.
Jay-Z on “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”, Late Registration
He’s not a business man, he’s a business MAN! There are only a handful of Kanye tracks where he gets outdone by the featured artist, this is certainly the best example and arguably the best guest verse on any Kanye track.
Dwele on “Flashing Lights”, Graduation
It would have been easy to go with T-Pain on “Good Life” and it would have been warranted to go with DJ Premier on “Everything I Am”, but Dwele gets the nod here. His stand-out chorus on “Flashing Lights” sits beautifully on the orchestra’s backing before the patented synth-work of Graduation bursts through.
Kid Cudi on “Welcome To Heartbreak”, 808s and Heartbreak
On 808s second track Cudi’s chorus sets the tone for West’s most honest and vulnerable piece of work. These themes follow up on future Cudi-West collaborations “Gorgeous” and “Guilt Trip”.
Rick Ross on “Devil In A New Dress”, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Objectively Yeezy’s strongest piece of work and the one in which his ability as a project’s director shines through. From Nikki Minaj’s ferocious verse on “Monster”, to Justin Vernon’s “Woods” re-work on “Lost In The World”, to Pusha T’s career revitalizing verse on “Runaway”, the guest performances are as numerous as they are brilliant.
Assassin on “I’m In It”, Yeezus
A relative unknown in the hip hop world at the time, the Jamaican dancehall artist delivers a fury-packed verse that immediately follows the first snares on the entire album. Though we’re still unsure whether the O.J. reference was a (bizarre) ode to the Kardashian connection to his murder trial. Honorable Mention: Charlie Wilson on “Bound 2”.
In 2016 a Kanye guest verse is a rarity, but over the years Ye has blessed us with some classic verses as a featured artist. Here are some of the best ones ranging from the pink polo and backpack days to present day:
Take this all in, and brace yourselves for The Life of Pablo.
Stay tuned to wiux.org for extensive reviews of tomorrow’s MSG premiere and TLOP.