Controversial. Provocative. Self-proclaimed genius. The most decorated producer in hip hop history.
There are many monikers for the enigmatic rapper, fashion designer, producer and music legend, Ye (formally known as Kanye) West. Whether it be his rise in the Chicago music scene and the release of “The College Dropout,” his incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs and the subsequent release of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” his messy divorce with Kim Kardashian or “Donda,” Ye holds prime real estate in the moral gray area.
West has been in the headlines since the early 2000s giving him a generational reach. Whether you are in the party that despises the Atlanta native — or you would willingly sacrifice yourself for him — there is a guarantee that you have heard at least one or two of his songs.
While Chloe and I tend to find ourselves amid that spectrum, we appreciate his contributions to the music industry. West’s music proudly ran on my pre-race playlist during high school cross country and on the speakers as Chloe warmed up for a field hockey match.
Just a week ago on print night, we scoured the One Direction catalog for our favorite songs. With the Hockey Edition warranting another print night, we returned to list our favorite Ye songs.
We decided to start the night with one of the most famous (or infamous) Ye songs. The repeating E-major key, Pusha-T feature and distorted vocals all combine to create a beautiful mess.
“Touch the Sky”
Beginning print night with Starbucks coffee in our hands, Chloe and I were feeling on “top of the world” as Ye sings in the post-chorus of this “Late Registration” classic. West’s forte in the producing world is his use of samples, which he expertly does here, mixing Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.”
Keeping up the good vibes, we listened to “Good Life” from 2007’s “Graduation” album. The upbeat production, which samples Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T,” — along with T-Pain’s famous auto-tune — kept the energy high.
“Hell of a Life”
With the entire office becoming hungry as it approached 8 p.m., Chloe and I took it upon ourselves to pick up everyone’s Taco Bell orders. “Hell of a Life” has a dark production that is still incredibly catchy.
As we began our walk back from West Campus, Chloe was getting cold — meaning we had to walk fast to warm up. “Otis” is incredibly high-paced and inspired us to pick it up. It features Jay-Z and masterfully puts a spin on Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.”
“No More Parties in LA”
As we returned to the office and the night marched on, we — and our music — began to mellow out. This song kept up with the upbeat theme, but Kendrick Lamar’s flow and the repeating sample cut were the perfect way to settle in.
We went with back-to-back songs from “The Life of Pablo” album. Soon after the previous song, “Ultralight Beam,” followed. This is a powerful song that feels like a gospel hymn with a backup choir repeating, “I’m trying to keep my faith.”
“Through the Wire”
Needing a break, Chloe and I went on a walk to the GSU to relax and get out of the office for a moment. This song was originally recorded with Ye’s mouth wired shut following a car crash. The smooth sample perfectly matched the energy as a mental reset.
One of Chloe’s favorites — “Flashing Lights”— has a futuristic, spacey feel to it as the electronic synths beautifully clash with the strings. This song is perfect for a late-night walk.
Casey, the City News editor, said his favorite song was “Heartless” from 2008’s “808s & Heartbreaks.” A classic song that sounds like an autotuned Ye brought his recording equipment to a train station easily made our list.
The clock hit midnight. As the morning appeared, we naturally played the “Graduation” classic song “Good Morning.” An upbeat song that I used to play on my morning commute in high school, re-energized us for the rest of our long night ahead.
Off of the experimental album “Yeezus,” this song marked the beginning of our second wave of energy. The quick build-up and distorted vocals make this one of Ye’s best songs of the last decade.
“Monster” is backgrounded with dark production and a star-studded feature list. With Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Bon Iver on the track, the song is stolen in the final verse by Nicki Minaj. Distracted the first time Minaj’s verse came on, I had to rewind the song to catch one of her best verses.
“Off the Grid”
Another song that Chloe enjoys, “Off the Grid” is one of Ye’s most recent, coming out in 2021 from the album “Donda.” Showing Ye collaborating with the younger generation of artists, Playboi Carti and Fivio Foreign are featured on this energetic track.
Another song off of “Donda,” “Jail” is one of our favorite cuts from the album. This song came on as we began reviewing pages before sending the paper to the printer.
As the night once again began to simmer down, “Waves” was the perfect way to return to a state of calm as we neared 2 a.m.
In this song, Ye compares his hometown — Chicago — to a relationship with a woman. This song played as we were wrapping up for the night, making Chris Martin’s chorus of “I’m coming home again” hit even harder.
As we walked out of the Daily Free Press office at 4 a.m., 070 Shake’s beautiful voice belting “nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free” rang out as our second print night was a success. Kid Cudi’s hums flowed through the air as we drifted home through the piercing morning air.