By James Pavel

5. Diamonds from Sierra Leone

It could have been just another classic from decades ago with a modern rapper spilling nonsense over it and misleading new music fans to believe that the song is a hip-hop original and not actually a slaughtering of a once stunning epic. No, Yeezus takes James Bonds’ eternal diamonds and somehow makes them shine even brighter. He manages to shed light on the severity of the diamond trade in Africa, while elevating his rapping ability to the top of the pack. The original is often overshadowed by the Jay-Z remix, but Kanye’s two verses sans Hova are as slick as any suit Jigga has ever had tailored.

4. I Wonder

Kanye West is kind of like the Anakin Skywalker of pop music. In the early years, he is the promising young Jedi that we pray will lead rap and pop music into a new realm of substance and innovation. But the culture of celebrity swallowed his wholesome nature and transformed him into the monstrous Darth Vadar, solidified by his recent marriage to the Death Star of nonsensical celebrity worship, Kim Kardashian.

So that is why it feels like a different universe when West was once a humble, back-pack sporting, Polo-rocking, producer turned rapper, dying to shine. His first two albums are bathed in soul music, which is appropriate since it is these first two releases where Yeezy is the most vulnerable and still determining who he wants to be. Kanye’s ability to empathize with women is only equalled by the late Tupac Shakur. “On that independent shit, give it up for a husband and some kids,” is a punch at feminism, but only a light jab because it has likely made thousands of single women weep from its bruising honesty. Kanye’s relationship with his mother is the foundation of this acute female perception and it would be this relationship that would serve as the ultimate clock to dictate when and how the hyper-sensitive ‘Ye’ would eventually transform into the polarizing ‘Yeezus.’


3. Runaway

“Runaway” is a modern anthem for the modern d-bag brought to you by the self-proclaimed international asshole. While sexism has quelled in the new millennium, the sexual appetite of men appears to have tripled, leading to rampant adultery, nonstop perverted thoughts and outlandishly stupid ideas like men sending text messages of their penises. While some married men will plead innocence even when handcuffed to the bed frame by their secretary, many fellas are at least aware of their piggish antics. While “Runaway” was a frigid, insensitive dismissal of any women foolish enough to remain close to him, it still showcased the self-awareness that has ultimately come to define, and at times, destroy Kanye West. The repeated hammering of the single piano key at the beginning before a voice yelling “Look at cha!, Look at cha!” is the mirror screaming at Kanye to dwell in self-reflection and discern why it is that he chooses to act like a monster so often.

2. Jesus Walks

It’s ironic that maybe his most defining track is about the pious figure that he would eventually compare himself to six albums later. From some corners of the world, this song is not just over the line, it’s over the equator.

The song is the defining anthem of his career because the initial and eventual interpretation of this song is exactly how to describe the complexity and genius of Kanye West. The naked audacity of West to champion his debut album over a song preaching the power of the son of Joseph, on a disc that blatantly states that many of his primary objectives make the Ten Commandments shiver, was at first blatantly arrogant.

But as you dissect the lyrics and allow the conviction of Mr. West to take hold, you realize that everything he’s spitting, no matter how ridiculous, has some level of merit.

“I’m not here to argue about his facial features, I’m here to turn atheists into believers,” is the slogan door-to-door Christians have been desperate for since Jesus left the building.

1. Black Skinhead

Today’s Kanye West has shredded his cuddly mascot teddy bear like a savage wolf, decorated himself in an aggressive leather uniform and shaved his skull so that his pulsating veins bulge through when he screams the menacing “Black Skinhead.” The backpacks and the teddy bears have been deserted in the locker room of the fictional ghetto university that he dreamed up in his first few albums, in favour of a beautiful, dark prison where it’s so desperately lonely at the top that Kanye is having delusions of divinity.

With his mother and grandmother both passing away and Jay-Z at times behaving as a rival rather than a big brother, Kanye has had no one to turn to except for the mirror that only seems to rev his ego with the power of a fully-fueled 747.

Kanye West simultaneously hates pop culture while completely defining it. He’s married to a woman who is famous and glorified despite having zero talent, while Yeezy is hated and ridiculed despite being one of the most progressive and talented artists of his generation. The dichotomy should make him vomit on repeat, but the pop culture monster that he co-exists in is impossible to destroy when he and his wife act as the central vortex of it all.