Release Date: April 3, 2012
Album: Cruel Summer
Writer(s): Kanye West, Sean Anderson, Terrence Thornton, Tauheed Epps, Staphan Taft, Anthony Khan, James Thomas, Denzie Beagle, Winston Riley, Reggie Williams
Producer(s): Lifted, Mike Dean, Mike Will Made It, West, Hudson Mohawke, Khan
“I step in Def Jam buildin’ like I’m the sh*t
Tell ’em give me fifty million or I’ma quit
Most rappers’ taste level ain’t at my waist level
Turn up the bass ’til it’s up-in-yo-face level”
Oh no! More Big Sean. This must actually be the last time on this list. Probably.
Cruel Summer produced some unique mash ups of Kanye’s besties, though “Mercy” probably stands out as the best of the bunch. Kanye’s verse is predictably strong, but it’s the inclusion of two excellent takes from Pusha T and 2 Chainz that really round out the track.
It’s all helped by some exceptionally unique production on which, with the benefit of hindsight, we can hear a blend of some of the same textures that would go on to define the sound of Yeezus, which came out months later.
In the end it’s the strange, haunting, barely understandable refrain — “Well, it’s a weepin’ and a moanin’ and a gnashin’ of teeth” — that sticks around in the ear the longest. Leave it to Kanye to make a song that is simultaneously fun and terrifying.
Next: 23. Gorgeous