The 50 Best Kanye West Songs Ever

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5. Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)

Release Date: March 31, 2005

Album: Late Registration

Writer(s): Kanye West, Devon Harris, John Barry, Don Black, Shawn Carter

Producer(s): West, Jon Brion, Devo Springsteen

Notable Lyric:

“The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses

I thought my Jesus-piece was so harmless

Til I seen a picture of a shorty armless

And here’s the conflict

It’s in a black person soul to rock that gold

Spend your whole life trying to get that ice

Bought a Polo rugby, it looks so nice

How can somethin’ so wrong make me feel so right?”

Sometimes the contrast Kanye wields is more unintentional.

On “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix),” Kanye does his part in the first verse to set the scene. The diamond and gold trade coming out of Africa has, over the years, been tainted. Dictators and warlords mine the precious metals and gems from the ground and then sell them to finance their oppression and their wars. It’s a blight upon the industry, and in Kanye’s view particularly affects rap culture due to its obsession with acquiring Jesus pieces and the like.

And then Jay-Z comes in. No one, even Kanye, is going to tell Jay what to rap about, so his second verse takes a 180 degree turn. The song becomes a celebration of Jay’s wealth and influence, and it’s so good that it’s difficult to be angry about any of it.

Next: 4. Can't Tell Me Nothing