The 50 Best Kanye West Songs Ever

42 of 51

10. All of the Lights

Release Date: January 18, 2011

Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Writer(s): Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter

Producer(s): West, Bhasker

Notable Lyric:

“Restraining order, can’t see my daughter

Her mother, brother, grandmother hate me in that order

Public visitation, we met at Borders

Told her she take me back, I’ll be more supportive”

Part of the genuine beauty in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy comes from the considerable effort Kanye put into making it sound like it all came about easily. In that way, “All the Lights” and the album as a whole is the balance between the sparse 808s & Heartbreak and the overfilled insanity of Yeezus. It is compulsive perfection made to look simple.

Knowing some details here about the production of “All of the Lights” can help us understand the power of obsessive compulsion though. For example, while Rihanna is the only guest vocalist on the track, she was merely the last surviving member of a group of artists that originally contributed to the song. John Legend, Elton John, Alicia Keys and Drake — among many others — are given backing vocals credit on the song for their contributions early on in the production process.

Good luck parsing through the song for their vocals, though. None but Rihanna met Kanye’s standards for the song, and it’s hard to argue that he made the wrong decision.

Next: 9. Heartless