Kanye West's 13 Most Uplifting Deep Cuts
Turning to Kanye West might not be your first thought when the going gets tough, but the producer/rapper/fashion designer’s catalog is actually chock-full of uplifting anthems. Keeping his self-esteem up has long been a priority for Mr. West, and it shows in these deep cuts (read: songs that haven’t hit the Billboard Hot 100 or Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts).
You’ll notice that there are no songs from The Life Of Pablo or Yeezus -- that’s because every song on those albums charted at some point (streaming!). The absence of 808s & Heartbreaks, in contrast, should be self-explanatory (this list is for those trying to stop crying, not start).
So if you’re feeling down (and right now, you're certainly not alone), just tune in to the tracks below and let the chipmunk soul and unflappable braggadocio take you to the place where you can “stand there in a Speedo/ and be looked at like a f—ing hero.”
“We Don’t Care,” The College Dropout (2004)
West’s opening statement remains one of his most enduring album cuts: transforming an obscure Jimmy Castor sample into a completely singular beat, and the story of his native Chicago’s hard knocks into one of devil-may-care triumph.
“Spaceship,” The College Dropout (2004)
“Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers,” became the rallying cry for mini Yeezys everywhere -- but the song’s ambition-centric message (“Y’all can’t match my hustle”) applies to everyone, in the industry and out.
“School Spirit,” The College Dropout (2004)
The ideal soundtrack to putting your best foot forward: “It’s been over, I’m here for a reason.”
“Hey Mama,” Late Registration (2005)
Mr. West certainly has a soft side, and it shows on this gentle, unabashed tribute to his mother Donda. Perfect for when you need to be reminded of what’s really important.
“Family Business,” The College Dropout (2004)
Another sweet ode to family. If you’re wondering where Chance the Rapper got his rousing, gospel-filled sound, look no further than this song.
“Celebration,” Late Registration (2005)
“You know what this is…” -- even if you’re not winning yet, this classic example of Kanye’s eye-roll-inducing boasts will have you feeling like you are.
“The Glory,” Graduation (2007)
Featuring maybe the most unexpected appearance Laura Nyro’s ever made, this bombastic track proved Kanye’s opening query -- “Can I talk my shit again? -- was definitely a rhetorical one.
“Everything I Am,” Graduation (2007)
“We Major,” Late Registration (2005)
Horns, strings, Nas -- this celebratory song is just a preview of Kanye’s many epics to come.
“Good Morning,” Graduation (2007)
The Elton John sample, combined with Kanye’s anti-establishment fervor, will make anyone feel better about their relative lack of diplomas.
“I Wonder,” Graduation (2007)
A preview of the beat-centric work Kanye would show off on The Life of Pablo, “Wonder” still has its fair share of motivational talk: “I’m a star, how could I not shine?”
“Lift Off,” Watch The Throne (2012)
When you need a boost, Beyonce’s presence is basically a foolproof plan: Here, her interstellar chorus combines with verses from her husband and Mr. West, as well as production from a slew of heavyweights, including Q-Tip and Bruno Mars (?!).
“Made In America,” Watch The Throne (2012)
A little hard to listen to in the current political climate, this ode to the come-up -- from civil rights to today -- is still a beautiful reminder of what America can be: Frank Ocean, Jay Z, and Kanye West pledging allegiance to their grandmas.