Kanye West’s 7 Best Collaborations: Relive Yeezus’ Best Moments Assisting Rihanna, T.I. & More
When accessorizing, it’s typically en vogue to pair a decent outfit with an extremely expensive accessory. That’s the same function of having Kanye West as a feature on a track. Yeezy adds the necessary something needed to upgrade any hit single. The Chicago-bred rapping-producing-ranting wunderkind spent his early days playing the assist for none other than his now-peer Jay-Z. While that could have arguably been Kanye’s collaborative ceiling, he has since gone on to work with some of rap’s heavyweights while forging a career of his own. Of course Kanye’s musical trajectory isn’t without a little randomness.
Collaborations-wise, Yeezy tends to pick and choose who to work with based on a vibe, not a status. Remember his track “I Still Love H.E.R.” with Asian rap outfit Teriyaki Boyz? Sometimes the tracks he jumps on raise several eyebrows; other times they’re expected — especially when a verse by the Yeezus MC can take a song to the next level. Here are seven of Kanye West’s best collaborative moments. From the super well-known to the hyper-underground, Kanye West knows how to show up for an occasion. Check out hip-hop’s favorite accessory below.
Kid Sister featuring Kanye West, “Pro Nails” (2007): A few historical points to consider: both Kid Sister and Kanye hail from Chicago, plus DJ A-Trak (Kid Sister’s ex-boyfriend) was West’s old DJ. Neither of that played into ‘Ye choosing to jump on Kid Sis’ ode to nail salons. Apparently Kanye loved the song so much he just added his own verse. Kid Sister was clearly thrilled (evidenced by Yeezy in the video and making it her single). If only Chief Keef were as grateful when Kanye added a verse to “I Don’t Like.”
Rihanna featuring Kanye West, “Diamonds (Remix)” (2012): When Sia penned Rihanna’s single “Diamonds,” she had to have known she had a hit on her hands. Having Kanye on the remix though? Now we’re talking. Not only did Kanye open the song with extensive bars, he also broke the secret code. “Illuminati, high society / we in this party and nobody invited me.” For everyone wondering if the Roc Boys were part of Illuminati, there you have it. They are. Well, at least Kanye is. On this song. For now.
T.I. featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West & Lil Wayne, “Swagger Like Us”(2008): Who knew an M.I.A. sample would travel so far. When “S.L.U.” aka “Swagger Like Us” hit the streets, the lineup was pretty impressive. Having most of the bosses of rap at the time, the collaboration felt like a super-group. However, nothing trumped Kanye West’s verse, opening with “Mr. West is in the building / Swagger on a hundred thousand trillion.” It’s a line that has echoed throughout Ye’s entire career, and it wasn’t even on his own song.
Dilated Peoples featuring Kanye West, “This Way” (2004): “I don’t know what’s better: gettin’ laid or gettin’ paid / I just know when I’m gettin’ one the other’s gettin’ away.” That’s the pull-quote from Kanye West’s verse on Dilated Peoples’ intense cut “This Way.” Yeezy jumped on the track moments before he blew up, and it’s a good thing he did. He definitely turned an indie single into a mainstream-valued track. The video probably also marked the last time Kanye ever wore that backpack and polo shirt again.
Rick Ross featuring T-Pain, Lil Wayne & Kanye West, “Maybach Music II” (2009): J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League crafted a cinematic beat to set the stage for Rick Ross’ ode to the finer things in life, while T-Pain coos an Auto-Tuned “realest shit I ever wrote” hook. Then comes Kanye’s verse where he shuts down the haters. “Talkin’ bout how your boy’s clothes extra tight / I just remembered that my limelight extra bright.” So basically he’s saying he can dress in hip hugging H&M pants and still be the dopest dude on the block. Once again, on someone else’s track. Now that’s bawse.
Jay-Z featuring Rihanna & Kanye West, “Run This Town” (2009): Jay-Z took the opportunity on “Run This Town” to introduce the world to his Roc Nation regime led by first mate Kanye and first lady Rihanna. This pledge of allegiance to the Roc was made extra special by way of Kanye’s verse where he basically talks down to the object of his affection, asking if she’s ever had “shoes with no shoestrings.” It’s condescendingly romantic, though, since he’s basically trying to introduce to the finer things in life. Then he shuts it all down with: “Ya feelin’ like ya runnin’ huh? Now ya know how we feel.” Boom.
Estelle featuring Kanye West, “American Boy” (2008): Estelle was looking for an “American boy” to show her the ropes across the pond. What better tour guide than Kanye? He didn’t want to take her around the US though; he was all about London in his verse. “Just touched down in London town,” he says, as he’s hoping for a pound (triple entendre there). It’s a playful verse from Kanye on a whimsy track about being swept off one’s feet. It’s not always so series in Kanye’s world. At least when Estelle is involved.