As well as being a Beatles admirer I’m also a big Kanye West fan. This one’s a little more controversial because he’s obviously a complete idiot, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying his unique brand of hip-hop. Most of his albums so far have been superb, but today I’ve decided to go a little outside the box and look at my favourite songs including Kanye as a featured artist (thus also excluding anything from 2011’s Watch the Throne as well as Cruel Summer from the Kanye-led collective GOOD Music.). Kanye is a popular featured performer as he usually adds something different while bringing some much-appreciated star power. I’m sure there are a few that I don’t know, but these are my favourites of the ones I do:
#7 E.T. (Katy Perry, Teenage Dream, 2010)
Teenage Dream is an album I like a lot, and although in my opinion E.T. is probably the least remarkable of the five singles I still consider it worthy of inclusion as one of the most successful songs of 2011.
#6 This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race (remix) (Fall Out Boy, 2007)
This one is included more out of sentiment and suspicion than merit if truth be told. I still don’t really know why Fall Out Boy collaborated with an artist of such a different style, but I think it’s an intriguing song that captured my attention a long time ago.
#5 Make Her Say (Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, 2009)
This song is a lot of fun; originally called “I Poke Her Face” Cudi was coerced into renaming it to make it radio-friendly. It also features Common and an acoustic sample of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, around which the chorus is based.
#4 Run this Town (Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 2009)
Into the more serious contenders comes “Run This Town”. Kanye and Jay-Z are long-time friends and collaborators, and this song, also featuring Rihanna, was a big success. Kanye’s verse is good enough that it’s even been criticised for overshadowing the rest of the song.
#3 Supernova (Mr Hudson, Straight No Chaser, 2009)
Far more successful in Europe than the US, Kanye’s collaboration with British artist Mr Hudson is a song I have a lot of time for. Hudson was signed to Kanye’s GOOD Music label the year before and the two wrote “Supernova” together.
#2 Knock You Down (Keri Hilson, In a Perfect World…, 2009)
This song, from Hilson’s debut album, is very close to being my favourite. Hilson, West and Ne-Yo come together to create an R&B classic about love and heartbreak that I really enjoy.
#1 American Boy (Estelle, Shine, 2008)
In truth, “American Boy” was always going to be top of my list. Estelle’s vocals mix perfectly with Kanye’s humorous verses and the song was a big hit across the world, being nominated for the Grammy for Song of the Year and winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
So it appears that for four years from 2007-2010 Kanye West entered a golden age of collaborations while releasing two excellent albums of his own (and one mediocre one – no prizes for guessing). 2009 in particular was a standout year and the songs from that year take me back to a time in my life I enjoyed; a lot of people don’t like the guy, but he was undoubtedly a big part of my teenage years.