PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

"Hurry Up With My Damn Croissants!": The 15 Best Kanye West Lyrics

Ten years after Kanye West's first album, The College Dropout, we count down the rapper's top lyrics.

Arrogant. Provocateur. Genius. These are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe the one and only Kanye West. Before the memes, before the infamy, there was the artist. Not only one of the most notable hip-hop artists of this generation, but one of the genre’s biggest luminaries, period. With each of his releases, West has continually brought something new to the table. Through every evolution, West’s razor-sharp lyrics have remained one rock-steady constant. Socially aware with a flair for the superficial (and "so much emphasis") since his 2004 debut, The College Dropout, Kanye's words and self-conscious mentality have been just as his important as his self-made, powerhouse beats.

 
15. “Street Lights” (808s & Heartbreak, 2008)

West got down with his cyborg self on the mournful, heavily Auto-tuned 808s & Heartbreak, but lying underneath the metallic sheen was the same Kanye unabashedly wearing his heart on his sleeve. On “Street Lights”, a somber ‘Ye delivers some of the biggest lyrical downers of his career as he likens passing street lamps on a cab ride to life moving by at a pace he can’t control. In spite of the fleeting nature of existence, Kanye still remains hopeful (“Things ain’t always set in stone”), and on an album filled with sadness and regret it becomes one of the more inspiring moments.

 
14. “Mercy” (Cruel Summer, 2012)

Between the minimal, buzzing bass and all the boasting, “Mercy” oozes swagger. Mid-way through the track, Kanye deconstructs the beat and hijacks the entire affair for himself. And why not? After all, he is the de facto leader of G.O.O.D Music, so it’s only fitting that the guy in the charge should steal the show. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, ‘Ye strolls into the room and puts his signees in their places (though Big Sean and Pusha turn in commendable efforts). The four-on-the-floor bass only lends additional strength to his outlandish claims (“I threw suicides on the tour bus”). When he says a line like “I step in Def Jam building like I’m the shit / Tell ‘em give me fifty million or I’m- a quit”, you’d be hard-pressed to tell this guy “no”.

 
13. “Niggas in Paris” (Watch the Throne, 2011)

Kanye kept things simple lyrically on this standout from Watch the Throne, but in the process created some of the biggest catchphrases of his career. Who else could bring such notoriety to a fish fillet sandwich? Whatever you do, just be sure not let him into get into his zone.

 
12. “Through the Wire” (The College Dropout, 2004)

Even with the dental hindrances after a devastating 2002 car accident, West never dials down the fiery passion as he recounts the near-death experience. While throwing around visceral lines (“There’s been an accident like GEICO / They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael”), not a bar goes to waste, clenched jaw and all.

 
11. “Who Gon’ Stop Me” (Watch the Throne, 2011)

“This is something like the Holocaust”, West boldly raps on the first line of “Who Gon’ Stop Me”, in reference to the history of plight toward Black Americans. Aside from this refrain, the song has little to do with the past and everything that’s happening in ‘Ye’s present; instead, the song focuses on all the money he’s stockpiling and how much more he’s making annually than us. But damn, does he do it in style. He has significantly less time on this track than his partner in crime, Jay-Z, but Yeezy still fires bullets in all directions. The line “y’all weed purple, my money purple” may or may not even be a subtle jab at prolific stoner Wiz Khalifa who shacked up with West’s ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, around the same time Watch the Throne was released.

Next Page

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.