[Creative Source – I’d Find You Anywhere – 1976: Sampled on ‘Wouldn’t Get Far’ – The Game ft. Kanye West – 2006]
Kanye West may be the most polarizing artist of our generation. It seems every move he makes has the media in uproar and someone on the internet mad enough to churn out these hilariously cruel memes with passionate finesse. He has pop culture and society completely divided. His brand doesn’t come with a moderate setting, and that is apparent in the public perception of him – You either love him or you hate him.
I love him. I always have.
In 2014 I don’t think there are any half ass Kanye fans left. The bandwagon is long gone, and if you were previously on the fence? Well, ‘Yeezus’ probably hammered the nail in that coffin. That album had Hip Hop purists genuinely angry and even [what I like to call] ‘modern’ Kanye fans, slowly retreating with confusion. “What happened to the old Kanye? He’s trash now” – I’d hear from just about every second person I spoke to after its release. (I personally loved the whole album) Yep, Kanye did it again. He pulled the carpet out from under our feet and shoved us into some futuristic realm where we didn’t want to go, and weren’t prepared for. He gave us a nearly full album of harsh pulsating almost purely electronic noises, underneath some disgustingly arrogant lyrics. (Even by Kanye standards.) And then as if to give one last middle finger to his ‘Golden Era Fans’, he finished the album with ‘Bound 2’ – A slightly updated version of a track that could have been on College Dropout or Late Registration, as if to say “Yeah of course I can still make 50,000 perfect songs with truly heartfelt lyrics, and amazing samples from the 70’s, but screw you. I don’t want to and I don’t have to because I AM A GOD.” *Kanye Shrug*
What an absolute genius.
But, I digress. I’m not here to convince you of why the love I have for Mr West is relevant and warranted, I’m here to talk about the part of him that we can all agree is undeniably talented – Production and SAMPLE SELECTION. You can hate on his new music and controversial persona all you want, but the man has faultless taste and magical ears. Not unlike Serena’s right-hand serve, or Maradona’s left footer, Kanye’s ears possess something that is in its own league. As a lover of all kinds of music, I have this obsession with discovering new sounds and artists. I have a particularly deep connection with Hip Hop because in essence, it’s a genre completely built on the greatest qualities of its preceding forefathers – Jazz, Soul, Blues, & Funk.
The rabbit hole that is Hip Hop is something I’ve been sucked into time and time again over the years. It always starts so innocently “Ohhh this Mos Def song is cool, I wonder who produced it?” A few clicks of the computer later and I’ve discovered a heart-wrenchingly beautiful love song from the Motown era. Before I know it, I’m listening to Dilla’s discography. Then all of a sudden it’s 2am and I’m on the Wikipedia page of some obscure barbershop quartet from 1933, cursing myself for the sleep I’m not getting but secretly elated with all the astonishing songs I’ve just found.
There is no denying, Hip Hop is a breeding ground for musical geeks, and Kanye beats are the cream of the fertile crop. My brain explodes when I think about what his music library must look like, and my empty pockets shudder at the money he must have sitting in his Sample Clearing and “In case I get sued by the original artist” Budget.
So without further ado, I give you:
The 17 Already Amazing Songs That Became The DNA Of 17 Kanye West Songs –
- Marvin Gaye – Distant Lover – 1973 / Kanye West ft. Consequence & GLC – Spaceship – 2004
- Wee – Aeroplane (Reprise) – 1977 / Kanye West ft. Charlie Wilson – Bound 2 – 2013
- Natalie Cole – Someone That I Used To Love – 1980 / Kanye West ft. Adam Levine – Heard ‘Em Say – 2005
- King Crimson – 21st Century Schitzoid Man – 1969 / Kanye West – Power – 2010
- Aphex Twin – Avril 14th – 2001 / Kanye West ft. John Legend – Blame Game – 2010
- Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne – 1976 / Kanye West – Champion – 2007
- Hank Crawford – Wildflower – 1973 / Kanye West ft. Paul Wall & GLC – Drive Slow – 2005
- Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – You Are I Am – 1979 / Kanye West ft. Swizz Beats, Jay Z, Pusha T, Cyhi The Prynce, & RZA – So Appalled – 2010
- Elton John – Someone Saved My Life Tonight – 1975 / Kanye West – Good Morning – 2007
- Mandrill – Peace & Love (Amani Na Mapenzi): Movement IV (Encounter) – 1970 / Kanye West ft. Mos Def, Freeway, & The Boys Choir of Harlem – Two Words – 2004
- Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – 1973 / Kanye West ft. Rick Ross – Devil In A New Dress – 2010
- Prince Phillip Mitchell – If We Can’t Be Lovers – 2004 / Kanye West – Everything I Am – 2007
- Donal Leace – Today Won’t Come Again – 1972 / Kanye West – Hey Mama -2007
- Mike Oldfield – In High Places – 1983 / Kanye West ft. Nicki Minaj, Teyana Taylor, & Bon Iver – Dark Fantasy – 2010
- Lauryn Hill – Mystery of Iniquity – 2002 / Kanye West ft. Syleena Johnson – All Falls Down – 2004
- Kay-Gee’s – Heavenly Dream – 1979 / Kanye West – Celebration – 2005
- Holy Name of Mary Choral Family – Sermon (He’ll Give Us What We Really Need) – 1986 / Kanye West – On Sight – 2013