Friday, January 11, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Diamonds from Sierra Leone
Kanye West
Album: Late Registration

I lasted until #7 but I just couldn't keep Kanye away. Really, how could you expect me to? The dude is dynamic and this is my favourite joint of all.

Sampling the hell out of the Shirley Bassey song "Diamonds Are Forever" from the Bond film of same name, this version is all about Kanye and The Roc-A-Fella fam, as shown by the chorus urging listeners to throw a diamond in the sky, the hand symbol of the Roc.

Besides having a ridiculously infectious beat, the rhymes Kanye spits over said beat displays some of his best bravado to date.

After debris settles and the dust get swept off
Big K pick up where young Hov left off
Right when magazines wrote Kanye West off
I dropped my new shit sound like the best of
A&R's lookin' like "pssh we messed up"
Grammy night, damn right, we got dressed up
Bottle after bottle till we got messed up

The truth is, Kanye isn't just bragging. He really is picking up where Jay Z left off and scores of music industry execs who said he was a great producer and only a great producer definitely did mess up.

Crazy thing about Kanye though, and this song is one of the ones that really exemplifies it to me and makes me mad at people that don't appreciate his genius - and he is a genius people - is that beyond all the bragging and crazy shit Kanye has been known to do, layered in there into overlooked songs like this, are smart, brilliant lyrics that any emcee would be proud to call their own:

Take your diamonds and throw 'em up like you bulimic
Yea the beat cold but the flow is anemic

What more can you ask for?
The international assholes nah
Who complains about what he is owed?
And throw a tantrum like he is 3 years old
You gotta love it though somebody still speaks from his soul
And wouldn't change by the change, or the game, or the fame,
When he came, in the game, he made his own lane
Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name
Its Kanye - But some of my plastic - they still say Kane
Next to the verse he drops on the Ne-Yo remix of Ghostface Killer's "Back Like That" that features a Ron Burgundy reference and the gem "she ordered the Kobe beef like Shaquille O'Neal," this track is easily my favourite Kanye lyrics of all time.

What makes this song even more important to me is that it educated Kanye. Sure, the diamond is the symbol of Roc-A-Fella, but after he recorded the song and heard the Lupe Fiasco* track "Conflict Diamonds," Kanye sought knowledge and educated himself to the plight of children who work in the diamond minds and used the video for this song as a message and recorded a remix of the track where he questions Jacob the Jeweler about the status of his diamonds.

Winner of the 2006 Grammy for Best Rap Song, Diamonds from Sierra Leone is a definite addition to the soundtrack of any Kanye West fans life.

* If you don't know about Lupe Fiasco, go get yourself some and tell me he isn't bananas... and definitely get the CRS joint "US Placers." It's Kanye, Lupe and Pharrell, but I'll tell you more about it at a later date...

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