Release Date: March 10, 2009
Album: 808s & Heartbreak
Writer(s): Kanye West, Jay Jenkins, Mailk Jones, Dexter Mills, Jeff Bhasker
Producer(s): West, Victor Alexander
“I’m a monster, I’m a maven
I know this world is changing
Never gave in, never gave up
I’m the only thing I’m afraid of”
808s & Heartbreak was Kanye’s very self-conscious attempt to take a look in the mirror.
The album came immediately after two pivotal moments in Kanye’s life. His mother, Donda West, died due to complications with surgery just months before his longtime girlfriend-turned-fiancee dumped him.
Those two events combined in an emotional tornado that spat out songs like “Amazing.” With Jeezy’s help, Kanye lays out a case for being either a flawed diamond or an especially shiny piece of cubic zirconia.
The sample lyric above perfectly captures the dichotomy at the heart of the song, and shows why the song’s title and persistent refrain are misleading. Kanye is under such psychological stress that he needs to be convinced that he and and his life are amazing. This isn’t a braggadacious rap so much as it is Kanye’s attempt to lift himself out of the pit that he finds himself sliding into.
As with so many songs on 808s & Heartbreak, it shows Kanye’s more vulnerable side — it’s also a catchy song in its own right.
Next: 39. Forever