The 50 Best Kanye West Songs Ever

11 of 51

41. Big Brother

Release Date: September 11, 2007

Album: Graduation

Writer(s): Kanye West, Aldrin Davis

Producer(s): DJ Toomp

Notable Lyric:

“My big brother was B.I.G.’s brother

So here’s a few words from ya kid brother

If you admire somebody you should go on ‘head tell ’em”

There’s something a little saccharine about “Big Brother,” at least on the surface.

Kanye is rapping about his respect and regard for Jay-Z, the man he would go on to equal and perhaps exceed in status. It’s not exactly a love letter, though.

As with anything that Kanye has ever done, there are shades of gray here. In one important regard, this is a song of praise for everything Jay-Z has done for Kanye. He gave him his first break all those years ago, and ultimately set Kanye on the path that culminated in an album like Graduation.

In another way, though, “Big Brother” acts as a list of grievances. Whether it’s Jay slighting Kanye at a concert at Madison Square Garden, or stealing Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Kanye seems to be lingering on some old beefs.

He undercuts that impression by acknowledging that he’s wrong to feel those things, a move that reflects some of Kanye’s surprising emotional maturity. The complete impression is, appropriately enough, of a kid brother both loving and resenting his older sibling.

Next: 40. Amazing