NODFACTOR And VIBE Present: Kanye West’s 50 Greatest Beats!

JLBarrow • November 15, 2010 • No Comments

I’ve never been the  biggest fan of Kanye’s singing and I think he  is a pretty good MC, but when it comes to beats he is clearly one of the best.

While we here at Nodfactor shook our heads at his declaration of being in the top 3 among producers, his catalog is nevertheless impressive. And any man that performs on an MPC at the VMAs gets dap in our book. So with his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy coming out officially this month (and unofficially already) we put our heads together with our friends at to compile Yeezy’s 50 Greatest beats.

Compiled by: Jerry Barrow(@JLBARROW), Tracy Garraud, Clover Hope and John Kennedy

50. Kanye West Feat. Talib Kweli & Common “Get Em High” (2004)
Album: The College Dropout
“I’m tryna catch the beat…” Though one of Yeezy’s more modest gems, “Get Em High” felt like it was gurgling in a bong with its xylophone bounce and jolly giant bass. Simple and buoyant—who wouldn’t take a hit?

49.Common “My Way Home” (2005)
Album: Be
Sample: Gil Scott Heron “Home is Where The Hatred Is”
For one of the shortest songs on the album, Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” got pitched down to enhance the melancholy vibe and was allowed to ride out naked with little additional drum programming un-enhanced by any overdubs.

48. Trina Feat. Ludacris “B R Right” (2002)
Album: Diamond Princess
Kanye throws another curveball on this third single from Trina’s Diamond Princess, fondling violin chords to create a sample-free sound bed perfect for Trina and Luda’s dirty talking.

47. T.I. “Doin’ My Job” (2003)
Album: Trap Musik
Sample: Bloodstone “I’m Just Doin My Job”
Just when you thought speeding up a sample was getting corny, Yeezy squeezed out one more winner with some help from Bloodstone’s “I’m Just Doing My Job”. As with most sample beats it’s about what drums you pair with it and Kanye’s freak of “Impeach The President” made it his own.

46. Kanye West “All of the Lights” (2010)
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
As stadium status goes, this star-studded cut off Kanye’s Wild Things-esque fairytale album is more than worthy of being boomed before thousands. Like the album’s overall soundscape, it’s slightly haunting and expansive but completely glorious, a plethora of majestic blasts and jungle drums. Expertly arranged vocals from Rihanna, John Legend, Alicia Keys and, for Pete’s sakes, Elton John seem like they’re one with the track. Good ass job.

45. Kanye West “Through The Wire”
Kanye West “Through The Wire” (2004)
Album: The College Dropout
Sample: Chaka Khan “Through The Fire”
The way ‘Ye blacks out on the instrumental for this humbled near-death reflection, you have to wonder if he was still high on painkillers. Of course, he was rapping with his jaw virtually clamped—the casualty of a severe 2002 car wreck—but the slightest Chaka Khan tweak made this shrieking sample one of his most clever.

44. Ludacris Feat. Shawnna “Stand Up”
Ludacris “Stand Up” (2003)
Album: Chicken And Beer
Despite how dope this beat was, it marked the last time the two heavyweights collaborated. The rare sample-free treat was Luda’s first co-production credit and that may have ruffled Kanye’s feathers. In some cases, he doesn’t play so nicely with others after all.

43. Monica Feat. Missy Elliott “Knock Knock”
Monica “Knock Knock” (2003)
Album: After The Storm
Sample: The Masqueraders “It’s A Terrible Thing To Waste Your Love”
Monica goes all “sista girl” over gentle chimes here, singing and rapping an “It’s not me, it’s you” note to her newest ex. While ‘Ye scaled back the original backdrop (check the hiccuping sample chop from his own “Improvise”) for this single from After The Storm, his MPC taps build up with hollow percussion and snares toward the track’s end. Anyone home?

42.Kanye West Feat. Pusha T “Runaway” (2010)
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The piano feels like it’s right out of a Stanley Kubrick film and helps you overlook the fact that he jacked Pete Rocks’ drums from an interlude on Mecca And The Soul Brother to make a toast to the douchebags. Call it a preemptive apology?

41. Kanye West Feat. Paul Wall & GLC “Drive Slow”
Kanye West Feat. The Game & Paul Wall “Drive Slow” (2005)
Album: Late Registration
Sample: Hank Crawford’s “Wildflower”
One of the most slept-on of Yeezy’s beats, this single from Late Registration contains a sample of Hank Crawford’s “Wildflower.” Pac fans remember this sample from “Shorty Wanna Be a Thug,” but where those drums overpowered the lilting piano Ye lets the track breath.

40. Common “The Corner” (2005)
Album: Be
Sample: Temptations “What It Is”
The Temprees play more of a supporting role in this instrumental providing sped-up chipmunk wails of “my liiife,” as the drums from the Temptations’ “What It is” provide most of the meat. Again, Yeezy waited patiently for the 1:15 mark where things slowed down a bit to pillage the funk before it all went spastic.

39. Drake, “Show Me A Good Time”, Thank Me Later, 2010
No I.D., Jeff Bhasker
Album: Thank Me Later
One of the highlights on Drake’s hyped debut is this bass-heavy party-starter that boasts the same high-pitched production adlib (aye!) Ye used on another track, Rick Ross’s “Live Fast, Die Young.” Also notice the subtle piano loop in the background. Under the right sound system conditions, you’ll lose your mind when the beat drops at the 7-second mark.

38. Jay-Z “Izzo” (2001)
Album: The Blueprint
Sample: The Jacksons “I Want You Back”
It’s almost cheating to sample the Jackson 5, especially since Jay had already pimped out “I Want You Back” with Pharrell for “I Just Wanna Love You (Give It To Me).” But Kanye’s superior drum-programming made this more than just another lazy loop.

37. Kanye West Feat. T-Pain “Good Life” (2007)
Coproduction: DJ Toomp
Album: Graduation
Sample: Michael Jackson “P.Y.T.”
It’s hard to go wrong with a sample of “PYT” (unless it’s Memphis Bleek’s tragic “I Wanna Love You”), but the second time around Kanye got some help from DJ Toomp to slow it down just enough to help the uncoordinated get their two-step on. And replaying it on the synth worked out way better than looping it outright.

36. Beanie Sigel “The Truth” (2000)
Album: The Truth
Sample: Graham Nash “Chicago”
Kanye wasn’t always rolling percussion and chipmunk-voiced samples. On his Roc introduction, ‘Ye lifts a seesawing ’60s Graham Nash record and plops it between grave piano keys. The result: An harder-than-tarmac album intro that not only set the tone for Beanie Sigel’s rough-edged debut, but began a long-lasting marriage between Kanye & Roc-A-Fella. True story.

35.Kanye West Feat. Young Jeezy “Amazing” (2008)
Album: 808s and Heartbreak
Anything worthy of being the soundtrack to Kobe Bryant’s march to a 3-Peat can’t be bad.

34.Twista Feat. Jamie Foxx & Kanye West “Slow Jamz” (2004)
Album: The College Dropout/Kamikaze
Sample: Luther Vandross “A House Is Not A Home”
What better way to pay homage to the oldies than making Luther Vandross sound like he’s been sucking on helium? Silly as it may seem, Kanye progressed the old school fiddling of “Through The Wire” by more methodically dicing a classic vocal sample over nimble percussion. And it definitely sets the party off right.

33.Kanye West Feat. Jamie Foxx “Gold Digger” (2005)
Album: Late Registration
Sample: Ray Charles “I Got A Woman” & Thunder & Lightening “Bumpin Bust Stop”
When he’s not busy bigging himself up, Kanye can be a lot of fun and this beat is testament to that. Tweaking Ray Charles “I Got A Woman” to craft his ode to greedy women was a rebellious move at best and sprinkling the familiar “get downs” from “Bumpin’ Bust Stop” made the ladies almost forget that he left their asses for a white girl.

32. Twista Feat. Kanye West “Overnight Celebrity”
Album: Kamikaze (2004)
Sample: Lenny Williams “Cause I Love You”
Mr. West gives Lenny Williams’ staccato cries new life on this epic Kamikaze single that piggybacks off “Slow Jamz.” Upgrading a chick from Gap to Gucci, Tung Twista’s nimble flow dances around the beat without getting tangled in Miri Ben Ari’s nifty strings.

31.Jay-Z “Heart of the City” (2001)
Album: The Blueprint
Sample: Bobby Blue Bland’s “Heart Of The City”
As sample manipulations go, this will not boost Yeezy’s application for MENSA membership but half the battle is often finding THAT record to help the message along. See what you can do with Bobby Blue Bland’s “Heart Of The City” in DJ Hero.

30.Mos Def Feat. Faith Evans “Brown Sugar”
Album: Brown Sugar Soundtrack
Mos Def “Brown Sugar (Fine)” (2002)
Album: Brown Sugar soundtrack
Sample: Norman Connors “Invitation”
This is classic ‘Ye production soaked in nostalgia. A twinkling old soul record made to bounce off doorknockers and slide down rope chains. From the gratuitous finger-snaps to Norman Connors’ stirring moans woven in at just the right moments, Yeezy grabbed a chunk of the hood’s sweet spot and baked it into the warmest melody.

29. Game Feat. Kanye West “Wouldn’t Get Far” (2007)
Album: Doctor’s Advocate
Sample: Creative Source “I’d Find You Anywhere” & Mountain “Long Red (Live)”
At first thought, tangling a hiccupping soul sample with a yowling rock sample seems like one hell of a sonic disaster. But under Kanye’s ear, the aforementioned couldn’t be further than accurate. The balmy juxtaposition is one even Melyssa Ford couldn’t hate on.

28. Nas Feat. Kanye West “Still Dreamin’” (2006)
Album: Hip-Hop Is Dead
Sample: Diana Ross “The Interim”
It doesn’t take much savvy to note that a song titled “Still Dreaming” needs to be coated in darkness. But it takes more than the obvious to massage one of the most exceptional tracks off a GOAT’s most controversial album. Here, ‘Ye takes Diana Ross’ snail-speed sample but rouses the melody with a gauze of DJ scratches and utterances. The end result, cuddled between serenity and melancholy, is far from a sleeper.

27. Kanye West Feat. GLC & Consequence “Spaceship” (2005)
Album: The College Dropout
Sample: Marvin Gaye “Distant Lover”
There’s just something about this track. Not only do Kanye’s lyrics tap into the 9-to-5ers daily tussle, this average Joe tribute immediately strikes a chord, from the opening bass and “oohs” to the stuttered drums and a plodding tempo that somehow feels like the beat itself is working the nightshift.

26. Kanye “Everything I Am” (2007)
Album: Graduation
Samples: Prince Phillip Mitchell “If We Can’t Be Lovers” & Public Enemy “Bring The Noise”
West achieves sonic bliss by pairing a sped-up slow dance-worthy piano rhythm with scratches of Chuck D’s “here we go again” vocals from a P.E. classic. Just like that, a laidback groove that Common foolishly passed up on becomes one of Ye’s most refined creations.

Click over to Vibe to see which one made #1!!

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