Revisiting Kanye West's mid-career collaborations with Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Consequence, T.I., & others.
"One of the joys for me in the music business is watching a new artist develop into their own," Jay Z said in the 2004 documentary Fade to Black. "I mean, that shit just bring me joy, to see an artist come from nothing and then they know, he has a name. That's Kanye West, that's Kanye West! He's signing autographs. I love that shit. And right now, this nigga, he's jut delivering, and the passion he's got for music, I don't think it's gonna stop."
Kanye West demonstrated unflagging vision and self-belief from the day Roc-A-Fella signed him on as an in-house producer in the early '00s. He knew what he wanted to title his first four albums before he had even released one. At the 2005 Grammys, he won Best Rap Album and donned powderwhite angel wings to perform "Jesus Walks," a song for which he was mocked when he first played it for his colleagues. Seven months after those Grammys, he went off-script and declared that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a Hurricane Katrina benefit telecast.
In other words, it became clear not too long into Kanye's career that he was an individual who wielded his cultural and musical influence with superhuman passion and purpose, if not grace. This much has remained the case, even as his music has evolved several times over in the years since.
Last year, we devoted an installment of this series to ten of the finest beats from the opening chapter of Kanye West's career (2001-2005). Today, we move on to 2006-2010, a turbulent era in which Kanye ascended to the plane of superstardom, grieved the tragic death of his mother, Donda West, and nearly torpedoed his own career by commandeering Taylor Swift Best Female Video acceptance speech at the VMAs.
This list excludes songs from Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and instead spotlights his collaborations with artists like Lupe Fiasco, The Game, Nas, Consequence, T.I., Jay Z, and Kid Cudi. Scroll on to take a trip down memory lane.