Release Date: October 4, 2010
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Writer(s): Kanye West, Terrence Thornton, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, John Roger Branch
Producer(s): West, Emile, Bhasker, Dean
“See, I could have me a good girl
And still be addicted to them hoodrats
And I just blame everything on you
At least you know that’s what I’m good at”
Picking the best song out of Kanye’s extensive catalog is nearly impossible. Unlike so many other artists out there, Kanye has declined to stick to one path throughout his career. He could have easily rode the wave of popularity he earned through College Dropout and Late Registration, making lightly funny rap intermixed with classic soul samples.
Instead, he endeavored to make something different with each album that followed. He’s got anthems with Graduation, a bleeding heart with 808s & Heartbreak, an artiness with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, party bangers with Watch the Throne, angsty anger with Yeezus and outright mania with The Life of Pablo. There is a Kanye for whatever mood you’re in. You could pick virtually any song off this list as your favorite depending on the day.
Here, we’re going with “Runaway” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It feels like the most stripped down, pure expression of Kanye that he’s yet produced. There’s no pretension or double meanings to confuse things — here, Kanye is not only admits that he has flaws, but also suggests he understands why someone might want to distance themselves from him as a result.
In that way, “Runaway” is something like the Rosetta Stone for the rest of his career. We can compare the Kanye he reveals to us here to the one that felt so ready to be the victim in “Heartless,” to the one who felt invulnerable in “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” even to the one who willed himself into fame in “Through the Wire.” We are, for arguably the first and/or last time, given access to Kanye the human.