The 50 Best Kanye West Songs Ever

37 of 51

15. Love Lockdown

Release Date: September 18, 2008

Album: 808s & Heartbreak

Writer(s): Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Jenny-Bea Englishman, Malik Yusef, Jan Menzies

Producer(s): West, Bhasker

Notable Lyric:

“I’m not loving you, way I wanted to

I can’t keep my cool, so I keep it true

I got something to lose, so I gotta move

I can’t keep myself, and still keep you too”

Two months before 808s & Heartbreak was released in November of 2008, Kanye released “Love Lockdown.” It was the first taste he gave of the changes to come.

Where Graduation saw Kanye accelerating toward some not-so-distant peak, “Love Lockdown” felt like him missing a particularly tight curve and going off-road.

His mother’s death, followed closely thereafter by the deterioration of his relationship with longtime girlfriend Alexis Phifer, had put the previous half-decade into perspective. How could he go on making anthemic arena rap while also contending with what was likely the most turbulent six months of his life up to that point?

Fans weren’t initially receptive to Kanye’s public attempt to deal with these issues. It wasn’t so much that Kanye was openly expressing grief, regret and ennui, but the manner in which he was doing it. He was singing — or, rather, Auto-Tuning — his heart out, and it made some people lament that Kanye had (gasp) gone pop.

Next: 14. Jesus Walks