Kanye West has proven time and time again that he is highly versatile. The Chicago act has shown his outstanding capabilities and creativity, from producing to rapping and even fashion design. However, as well as the aforementioned, the musician is also a skilled songwriter and has been helping Grammy-award-winning artists create tracks for years.
Unfortunately for the agent of chaos, some of the tracks he has written have proven to be more successful than his own. Had he held onto them, he would have had additional hits to his name. Few look at an album’s credits, but within hip-hop and R’n’B, West has been a prolific penman over the years and has been involved in the creation of many hits in a writing capacity.
Throughout his career, it has often been the case many perceive West as solely a producer. However, this could not be further from the truth. As a well-established rapper and hitmaker in his own right, West has helped many artists behind the scenes in their quest to obtain fame. Although the bold musician initially broke into the industry as a producer for Roc-A-Fella, he has since become a jack of all trades. The producer has since branched out and is now a ubiquitous figure who can be found as a contributor on the most obscure projects.
It is well-known that those who achieve obscene amounts of success are often called upon to help up-and-coming artists reach similar heights. However, it can be very hit-and-miss. With the assistance of ingenious creatives such as Kanye, figures often receive instant critical acclaim and find themselves steadily on the up. On the contrary, these collaborations sometimes see no gains for acts that then find themselves on a downward trajectory.
Although ghost-writing and similar activities are rife within the music industry, sometimes a track written by yourself could become an anthem you wish you had kept for your use. This has happened to West several times, and many of his writing efforts have been so successful that he regrets handing the lyrics over. In this article, we highlight the five best songs that Kanye West gave away. You can take a look at our picks in the list below.
The five best songs Kanye West gave away:
5. ‘Infrared’ – Pusha T, Daytona, (2018)
As one-half of the Virginia duo Clipse, Pusha T has made quite a name for himself in hip-hop. For most of his career, the rapper (born Terrence Thornton) has been one of West’s G.O.O.D Music artists. Subsequently, Pusha spent much time with the Chicago lyricist and producer and collaborated with him many times. In early 2022, the two worked together on ‘Diet Coke’ the lead single of Thornton’s fourth album, It’s Almost Dry. However, late last year, following the public furore and label fallouts that occurred as a result of West’s anti-semitic rants, Thornton was forced to part ways with Kanye.
Irrespective of their current relationship, Kanye has contributed significantly to Thornton’s discography over the years and is arguably the sole reason Pusha became somewhat of a relevant rapper following the dissipation of Clipse. Released in 2018, ‘Infrared’ was the last song of Thronton’s seven-track LP, Daytona. The project had several delays and a messy rollout. However, ‘Infrared’ turned heads as it contained what many believed were lines addressed towards Drake.
4. ‘Comfortable’ – Lil Wayne ft Babyface, Tha Carter III, (2008)
Tha Carter III is widely considered Lil Wayne’s most significant album and is the body of work that propelled him into the upper echelon of rap. ‘Comfortable’ featuring Babyface was released as the fifth and final single for Carter’s 2008 project and is a quintessential Kanye track.
‘Comfortable’ was not only written by Kanye, but was also produced by him. The song even samples one of West’s own productions, ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ by Alicia Keys. The track was also partially written by Ye. The project’s lead single ‘Lollipop’ and second single ‘A Milli’ were the album’s highlights. However, ‘Comfortable’ was cited as one of the best tracks on the body of work which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
3. ‘Go!’ – Common, Be, (2005)
‘GO!’ is a simple yet impactful song released by Common in 2005 as the third single for his sixth project, Be. Based on a sample from the 1972 track ‘Old Smokey’ by singer Linda Lewis, the album cut was produced by West and written by him. Recorded at Sony Music Studios in Manhattan, Ye also features on the track’s hook. The project was soulful and uncompromising. As such, the record only debuted at number 79 on the Billboard 100.
Common was one of the first artists Kanye ever worked with in a professional capacity. The Soulquarian act regularly collaborated with No I.D. when he was on the underground in Chicago and, therefore, worked with West when he was still relatively unknown in the ’90s. The two remained in contact, and Ye executively produced Be. As well as writing many of the songs, Ye also directed the music video for ‘GO!’
2. ‘Some People Hate’ – Jay-Z, The Blueprint 2, (2002)
As a resident beatmaker at Roc-A-Fella, alongside Just Blaze, Kanye was Jay-Z’s primary producer of choice. Following his immense success with The Blueprint in 2001, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) continued utilising Ye’s ingenuity and production skills for his 2002 sequel project, The Blueprint 2. The Chicago musician produced a number of iconic songs featured on the 2002 body of work such as ’03 Bonnie & Clyde’ and ‘Poppin Tags’.
However, another highly well-known track from the album that West produced is ‘Some People Hate.’ The Chicago beatmaker cleverly sampled and integrated three separate tracks for this instrumental. The most prominent of the samples is the 1976 song ‘Word Called Love’ by husband and wife duo Brian & Brenda Russell. West had just been inaugurated as an official member of Roc-A-Fella when the album was released and this put a bright spotlight on the producer who (unknown to most) was already working on what would become his iconic debut project, College Dropout.
1. ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ – Alicia Keys, The Diary of Alicia Keys, (2003)
This track was not only written by West, but he also produced it. Recorded in Manhattan’s famed Quad Studios, where 2pac was shot in 1994, the track samples the 1975 song ‘Let Me Prove My Love to You’ by the epic soul music trio The Main Ingredient. Released in 2003 for Keys’ second album, The Diary Of Alicia Keys, the track was put out as the project’s lead single and was highly successful.
During the early 2000s, Alicia Keys was an integral figure in the resurgence of R’n’B that occurred following the explosion of neo-soul in the late-’90s. The single debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained atop the Hot R’n’B/Hip-hop Chart for two months. ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ was critically acclaimed and earned Keys a Grammy award in the ‘Best R’n’B Song’ category. Furthermore, the song won a Soul Train award for the ‘Best R&B/Soul Single’ released by a female. West might have earned himself a Grammy if he had held on to the hit and put his own spin on it, although, in 2003, he still needed to release a debut album.