Thursday, February 18, 2010

Behind the Boards Pt. 5: Kanye West

No man has done more for Hip Hop over the past 6 years or so, than Kanye West. By now, everyone knows that he is a mega-star within the music world, but most people know him as an artist, not as a producer. Hopefully, everyone knows by now that he does pretty much all of the production on his albums, but even fewer people know he's produced for artist's like Jay-Z, NaS, Talib Kweli, Common, Alicia Keys, The Game, and the list goes on... Kanye is a genius behind the boards, and is one of the greatest Hip Hop producers ever.

1) Talib Kweli- Get By

The song that established Kweli on a more mainstream level, "Get By" was and still is, one of Kanye's greatest creations. Utilizing a sample from the song "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone, Kanye flips the piano chords into an unforgettable beat.

2) Common- The Corner

In my opinion, the gulliest beat that Common has ever rhymed over, and possibly my favorite Common song. "The Corner" is so vivid in its imagery, with Common spittin' knowledge and Kanye providing the perfect backdrop, it's hard to imagine a song that is much better than this.

3) Jay-Z- A Dream

Without question one of the most overlooked Jay-Z songs, "A Dream" is simply epic. Kanye laces the beat with an ill guitar sample, and Jay does some of his best storytelling ever. The Notorious B.I.G. sample is a nice addition, but the production is what puts this one over the top.

4) Jay-Z- Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

"Izzo" is the first big song that Kanye produced. Along with "Izzo," Kanye produced "Heart of the City," "Takeover," and "Never Change" off of The Blueprint. Kanye, Just Blaze and Bink!, produced the lion's share of the album. Izzo ended up as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

5) Kanye West- We Major

One of my alltime favorite Kanye songs, "We Major" is just out of hand. The horns make the song so grandiose, it sounds like the soundtrack fit for a king. For some reason I feel like it gets overlooked since it wasn't a single, but for me, it's one of the standout cuts on Late Registration.

6) Kanye West- Slow Jamz

"Slow Jamz" is the first Kanye song I remember, and it was an absolute jam. Jamie Foxx and Twista added their own flavor in to create a great song. "Slow Jamz" came out around the same time "Through the Wire" was released, and together they proved to be a potent mix, and helped establish Kanye as an artist.

7) The Game- Dreams

"Dreams" was a standout track off of The Documentary, and that's no small feat. The Documentary had some of the hottest tracks in recent memory. Kanye sampled the song "No Money Down" by Jerry Butler, but he chopped and edited it in a way that made the song completely his own.

8) Jay-Z- Takeover

"Takeover" is one of those classic 'beef' songs. Primarily aimed at NaS, although Mobb Deep caught hell as well, when Jay-Z dropped this at Hot97's Summer Jam back in the day everyone went crazy. It is the track that started the now epic feud between Jay-Z and NaS, and to this day it holds its own as one of the greatest 'beef' tracks ever.

9) Alicia Keys- You Don't Know My Name

One of the more underrated Kanye beats, "You Don't Know My Name," seems to get lost in his catalogue. It's definitely my favorite Alicia Keys song, and one of my favorite beats. 'Ye provided the perfect palette for Alicia with this one.

10) Kanye West- Last Call

"Last Call" might be my favorite Kanye song. The way he flipped Bette Midler's "Mr. Rockefeller," is simply genius. It doesn't get much better than that, plus the narration at the end is pretty cool as well.

Honorable Mention: Slum Village- Selfish, Twista- Overnight Celebrity, Kanye West- Gold Digger, Jay-Z- Lucifer, Scarface- Guess Who's Back, Talib Kweli- Guerrilla Monsoon Rap

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