We all know Kanye West is a master craftsman of music, but his eye for guest features is equally as masterful. From Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse to Bon Iver’s spot on “Lost in the World”, Ye’s diverse ear for finding musicians to collaborate with is always a surprise, but always delivers strong.
On his latest album ye, rising G.O.O.D. music signee 070 Shake is the project’s scene-stealing highlight for her performance on the uplifting anthem “Ghost Town”. Her wide vocal range, stemming from raspy/grungy to melodic, is one of a kind, and Kanye lets her ability shine for the entire second half of the song. It ultimately led to a spike in people searching her name.
Kanye clearly has tons of hits, but the number of great guest features in his music is just as staggering. Coming off the hype of of the viral 070 verse, we’ve decided to go back and find our top ten favorite appearances on Kanye tracks. As you read below, be sure to tell us your favorite as well in the comment section.
The brag-rap track off of Kanye’s Graduation finds the two artists spitting about their fancy lifestyles and their ability to effortlessly create hits like baseball star Barry Bonds. However, the track really shines on Wayne’s verse, as he playfully misspells words while feeding into his successes. “I’m all about my Franklins, Lincolns, and Reagans/Whenever they make them, I shall hayve them/Oops, I meant ‘have them’ – I’m so crazy!”
For “Lost in the World”, Bon Iver sings a revamped version of his song “Woods”, bringing hauntingly beautiful, autotuned vocals to the introduction of the track. “I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind/I’m building a still to slow down the time rounds” he repeatedly sings. It’s a gorgeous contrast from the larger than life gospel chorus, hard hitting drum-kick, and poetic verse from Kanye. This track is a spectacle through and through.
Kanye is known for breaking down the barriers between rap and the rest of music’s numerous genres, and Late Registration‘s “Heard Em Say” serves as a prime example. Featuring Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, the pop star brings a level of warmth and soul to the darker lyrics about poverty and institutionalized racism for people of color. It’s this blend of mainstream sounding music mixed with stories of black struggle that helped push hip-hop into the mainstream light that it currently is in.
A cut off of Kanye’s Late Registration, West sounds lyrically sharper here than any other track on the album, but it’s the Nas verse that really wins us over. It’s a mega-surprise appearance considering that West produced JAY-Z’s Nas-bashing classic “Takeover” years prior. However, all that is forgotten as soon as the New York rapper spits “I heard the beat and I ain’t know what to write/First line should it be about the hoes or the ice? Fo-fo’s or Black Christ? Both flows’d be nice.”
Easily the stand out hook on the entire Life of Pablo comes from the humming god Kid Cudi. Following the godsend opening track “Ultralight Beam”, Cudi brings an equally melodic vibe to the soulful anthem singing, “Beautiful mornin’, you’re the sun in my mornin’, babe!” It’s uplifting spirit will have you forgetting that you just listened to Kanye rap about bleached bums in the first verse.
Ye served up the alley oop, and Chance threw down a thunderous windmill gospel dunk on “Ultralight Beam”. Bringing the energy level to over nine thousand, Chance raps about his current glo-up with so much energy and passion bleeding through his lyrics you can’t help be excited along with him. From “I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail” to “This is my part, nobody else speak/This is my part, nobody else speak!” How can you not get inspired?
Arguably the best Rick Ross guest verse of all time came on West’s “Devil in a New Dress”. To conclude the lengthy soulful track, Ross leaves listeners feeling like peasants as he spits about his riches and glo-up as soon he begins with, “Lookin’ at my bitch I bet she give your ass a bone/Lookin’ at my wrist it’ll turn your ass to stone”. He further dives into past hustles – including rapping with Ye when his mouth was still wired shut after his brutal car crash in 2002 – and more, but now reaping the benefits from it. From one witty punch line about luxury goods to the next, Ross’ verse pays off and ends one of Kanye’s most beautiful songs on a great note.
Pusha-T went full asshole on “Runaway” and we love him for it. In a song that serves as “a toast to the douchebags,” the Virginia rapper commits fully to the role and delivers a powerful Jordan Belfort-esque rap about clichéd ideas of power, sex, and money and removes all the glamor from them. “Split and go where? Back to wearing knockoffs, haha/Knock it off, Neiman’s, shop it off” he raps.
Nicki Minaj’s tongue-twisting performance on Kanye West’s “Monster” was a star-making moment, and hands down the best verse of her career. Ranging from sweet to ferocious, Nick outshines both Kanye West and JAY-Z with her animated alter egos clashing with each other like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; it felt monstrous. What started out as a verse that she had to fight to keep on the album, became the moment that instantly cemented her as a legitimate tour de force.
Leave it to JAY-Z to perfect an already perfected song. On Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” remix, big brother HOV cuts off an already fire verse by Ye for a bragging rap about about how awesome he and his record label are, which at the time Roc-A-Fella Records was untouchable.
He delivers one his best known lyrics to date, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man! Let me handle my business, damn.” The feature was so good, little brother Ye created a whole song about it on his next album known as “Big Brother”. He raps, “On that ‘Diamonds’ remix I swore I spazzed/Then my big brother came through and kicked my ass.” It’s hard upstaging Kanye on a song – listen to Watch the Throne – but JAY’s superior lyrical ability outplayed his brother this time around.
For more on Kanye West, here are his top 40 best songs.