Okay, so “everyone makes a random bracket week” was sort of last week, but imma be late though? That was bad, I don’t know… umm, anyways, as most of you know I’m a huge Kanye fan so when I saw this bracket of Kanye songs, I thought it was a pretty fantastic idea. But I wasn’t a fan of the execution. There were some key tracks missing and the regions were lopsided, so rather than complain I made my own bracket.
I kept the concept for each region the same with regards to Kanye’s different musical eras, but tweaked it to reflect the musical styles of each album:
Soul Searching Region: College Dropout and Late Registration
Stadium Status Region: Graduation, Watch The Throne and Cruel Summer
Twisted Fantasy Region: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and GOOD Fridays
Black New-Wave Region: 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus
I seeded each song by what I would assume was the most popular and not necessarily my own preferences.
Here’s the full bracket seeding as of day one (which you can click to zoom) the results are below:
The best four Kanye songs. One from each era of his life. No surprises really at who made it here. Yeah, some people would’ve liked to see Jesus Walks or Stronger or Power or Blood On The Leaves, and that would’ve been a very strong Final Four too, but that’s the testament to the depth of this tournament. So who’s going to the championship game? Let’s find out. (To see how we got here, scroll down for earlier rounds).
2. Can’t Tell Me Nothing vs. 4. All Falls Down
This was, by far, the toughest decision of the tournament so far. I listened to both songs front to back for an hour. It did not help, they’re both classics. Heavy stuntin vs. a lesson in not stunting, the two songs go hard in the paint, but at the end of the day, Can’t Tell Me Nothing was just a runaway freight train. It couldn’t be stopped. In our hearts we all love All Falls Down, but at one point it had to. The only surprise was that it wasn’t that close.
Winner: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (10-5)
1. Runaway vs. 3. Black Skinhead
If you created a spectrum of Kanye sounds these two would be at opposite ends. The best cut from Yeezus was an underdog from the get-go against the best cut from Kanye’s magnum opus. Black Skinhead put up a decent fight relative to other tracks that had to face Runaway, but Runaway just ran away with this one.
Winner: Runaway (11-4)
Shit got real, that’s all I have to say about this round.
This is where we decide the four best Kanye songs. One from each era. It. Was. Tough.
Here’s what happened. (To see how we got here, scroll down for earlier rounds).
2. Diamonds (Remix) vs. 4. All Falls Down
Both of these songs are top five for me. Same era and similar themes, the dangers of material possession, but tackled in very different sounds. This was probably the toughest decision for a lot of people. One voter even said that his decision came down entirely to whether it was the Remix or not. I guess he’s not down for one of the best verses of our generation. It pains me to say it, even though I too voted against it, but the dream is over for Diamonds From Sierra Leone (it is just coming to me now that I wasn’t using the full title of the song, wow).
Winner: All Falls Down (9-6)
1. Stronger vs. 2. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
I thought this would be a close one considering the love Stronger gets, but apparently the voters were addicted to that boss feeling you get whenever Can’t Tell Me Nothing comes on. A true story, I once bet someone on some thing (it was the Leafs) and before collecting my money I busted this out. It was the best moment of my life. Seeing Can’t Tell Me Nothing make the Final Four is a dream come true for me.
Winner: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (11-4)
1. Runaway vs. 2. Power
This match-up here is proof to me that Runaway is unstoppable. Power is my favourite Kanye song of all time and I guess the fam wasn’t with me on this one. One man said this was the toughest decision of his life, and ultimately it came down to this: “the pumpup vs. the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.” Pretty safe to assume what he voted for.
Winner: Runaway (12-3)
3. Black Skinhead vs. 5. Blood On The Leaves
Depending on who you poll, the outcome of this matchup could be very different. Not growing up on hip-hop, you’d likely be more inclined to pick Black Skinhead, the visceral, loud, and abrasive statement track on Yeezus. It is the furthest thing Kanye’s done from a hip-hop song. Those drums are hectic. That is what makes it so good. Blood On The Leaves is the summation of all that anger, the climax, and actual bars. It literally combines every era of Kanye’s music into one. This one is all about who you poll. Considering how close it was, that’s a decent indication of the variety of opinions validating this bracket.
Winner: Black Skinhead (8-7)
When I sent the results to the voters, there was a common refrain:
“Fuck off, what.”
“Fuck my life”
“This is fucking impossible.”
But we prevailed to realize the ultimate goal: finding out which Kanye song is
the most popular in a small sample size the best.
These are the results from the Sweet Sixteen. To see how we got here, scroll down for earlier rounds.
1. Jesus Walks vs. 4. All Falls Down
This was by far the toughest matchup yet. In fact, before I decided myself I listened to both songs back-to-back. I knew I was an All Falls Down man, but that cadence to start Jesus Walks is too fire. I was this close from changing my vote. I thought Jesus Walks had this one in the bag, they were up 6-2 at one point! But that’s why they call this thing March Madness right?
Winner: All Falls Down (8-7)
2. Diamonds (Remix) vs. 3. Through The Wire
Diamonds hasn’t had anyone come close to providing a legit threat. They’ve got the momentum to take their talents to the championship game, but they’ll be in tough against a team that just took down the number one seed, the first number one seed to go down I should add.
Winner: Diamonds (10-5)
1. Stronger vs. 4. Flashing Lights
A battle between two of the better songs on Graduation, I thought Flashing Lights didn’t stand much of a chance, they even went down into a 7-2 hole to start. But they made a big effort to come back and keep things interesting.
Winner: Stronger (8-7)
2. Niggas in Paris vs. 3. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Niggas in Paris was looking like they couldn’t lose. Ballin’ so hard, shit was cray. Maybe they got a little too cocky going in to this one, but they couldn’t take down Can’t Tell Me Nothing which is looking like a heavy favourite at this point after taking down such a good team. All Niggas in Paris is left with is the faint thought of whether that jacket is in fact Margiela.
Winner: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (11-4)
1. Runaway vs. 4. Monster
In terms of central statements of the album, this matchup is the embodiment of Beautiful vs. Twisted, and the voters will always go with what they can relate to. Runaway is an absolute juggernaut and not even one of the best verses I’ve ever heard could contest to that. Through three rounds, it’s got the biggest margin of victory so far and right now it looks unstoppable.
Winner: Runaway (12-3)
2. Power vs. 3. All Of The Lights
And now we get to Dark vs. Fantasy. This one was a lot tighter than the other matchup, but let’s be honest here, the better song won. All Of The Lights has some hectic drums in the beat that have me four-five seconds from wildin’ everytime, but I mean… the song has a Fergie feature. Did it deserve to get this far in the first place? You’re talking about an album that is a Fergie feature away from perfection, this is the moment that ruined that. Then again, Elton John completely redeems that and you almost forget that Kanye just forced you to listen to Fergie for like 30 seconds. It’s the worst thing he’s ever done, in my opinion.
Winner: Power (9-6)
1. New Slaves vs. 5. Blood On The Leaves
New Slaves was the introduction we got to Yeezus, projected across random walls around the world. That is some next level advertising. Within the context of the album, the song builds off what Black Skinhead starts and turns the listener upside their heads with minimal synths, shouting and “the best verse of all time” according to Kanye himself. Kanye’s a genius so I’ll agree with him here. But then again, you get to Blood On The Leaves and it’s the pinnacle of the album. It’s fireworks and explosions. It’s the culmination of all the anger building on the album. It’s the climax. This was no easy matchup, but full points to the Blood Leaves for pulling through.
Winner: Blood On The Leaves (8-7)
2. Heartless vs. 3. Black Skinhead
808’s last hope had no hope with these voters.
Winner: Black Skinhead (12-3)
Round of 32
Maybe my seeding was ridiculously good. Maybe everyone who voted (now up to 15 people, wow!) is a sheep. Who knows, but the lack of upsets is making me upset. Some well-deserving and slept-on tracks are getting knocked out. What’s worse is that this round wasn’t as close as the first round either.
These are the results from the Round of 32. To see how we got here, scroll down to the Round of 64.
1. Jesus Walks vs. 9. Gone
I really thought that Gone had some upset potential here, and it wasn’t that far off. But Jesus Walks was a gigantic step in Kanye’s career and we wouldn’t have this bracket here today without it.
Winner: Jesus Walks (10-5)
2. Diamonds (Remix) vs. 7. Heard Em Say
Diamonds is going far in this one and it’s going to take a big track to knock em down. Heard Em Say is not that track.
Winner: Diamonds (12-3)
3. Through The Wire vs. 6. Gold Digger
Gold Digger is a banger, let’s be real, but even Kanye doesn’t fuck with this one anymore. Through The Wire is a classic, but it’s vulnerable winning it’s first two matches very narrowly.
Winner: Through The Wire (9-6)
4. All Falls Down vs. 5. Touch The Sky
Touch The Sky has the visual finesse with a G.O.A.T. video and laid down the groundwork towards Kanye’s next era with eyes toward stadium megahits. All Falls Down ain’t losing this one though, it’s too real.
Winner: All Falls Down (11-4)
1. Stronger vs. 8. Otis
Don’t blame me, I voted for Otis.
Winner: Stronger (9-6)
2. Niggas in Paris vs. 7. Clique
Niggas in Paris was on a dominant run, going 25-0 through it’s first two rounds of voting. Then Samantha happened, ruining the streak and dreams of a perfect season.
Winner: Niggas in Paris (13-2)
3. Can’t Tell Me Nothing vs. 11. New God Flow
Can’t Tell Me Nothing absolutely destroys New God Flow and has championship dreams. Their next match up though is against Niggas in Paris. Good luck, voters.
Winner: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (14-1)
4. Flashing Lights vs. 5. Mercy
Two very different Ye tracks, both equally memorable. Mercy was the song of the summer when it released, but Flashing Lights is so smooth and has, in my eyes, a top five Kanye song beat. Simple, but hits hard.
Winner: Flashing Lights (12-3)
1. Runaway vs. 9. Dark Fantasy
Let’s be honest with ourselves here, Runaway is probably going to the Final Four here.
Winner: Runaway (13-2)
2. Power vs. 7. Blame Game
No one song should have all that power. A landslide victory.
Winner: Power (13-2)
3. All Of The Lights vs. 6. Lost in the World
It was a close matchup in the early stages, but All Of The Lights’ star power took the game over in fourth quarter.
Winner: All Of The Lights (10-5)
4. Monster vs. 5. Devil in a New Dress
This loss really saddens me to my core. Devil in a New Dress is that track off MBDTF, the one that brings together classic Kanye, the one with soul roots, and new Kanye, the one with a grandiose vision of changing the world. That it flows right into Runaway is the best moment – of many great moments – on that album. The soul sample, the guitars, Rick Ross, man, it’s a top ten track for me. That’s not to deny the greatness of Monster, but I mean let’s be real here.
Winner: Monster (10-5)
1. New Slaves vs. 8. Hold My Liquor
Thought this one would be closer, Hold My Liquor is just so good. But you can’t deny the hype that New Slaves brought to the table with the projections around the world and the brash attitude that we would see with Yeezus.
Winner: New Slaves (11-4)
2. Heartless vs. 10. I’m In It
Cinderella’s last hope lost in a nail-biter here. We’ve only got 14 votes because Aaron doesn’t know how to fill out a spreadsheet. It didn’t matter though, Heartless got it’s 8/15 majority.
Winner: Heartless (8-6)
3. Black Skinhead vs. 6. Bound 2
I got into an argument yesterday with my friend about this one. He said Black Skinhead wasn’t a classic Ye song because it didn’t have mainstream appeal or any general acclaim. A big reason people were turned off by Yeezus (it being at the beginning of the album). To me, Black Skinhead is the thesis of this album: loud, visceral, brash and a general punk attitude. It’s a huge departure from anything Kanye has ever done and it’s done incredibly well for what it is. For that, I’d put it up there as classic status. It completely embodies the sound and tone of the album.
Oh yeah, and Bound 2 is overrated, bye.
Winner: Black Skinhead (11-4)
4. Love Lockdown vs. 5. Blood On The Leaves
By now you’ve probably noticed that every 1-4 seed has won. I’m not happy about it, but it can’t be argued in a popularity contest. That being said, even the prestige of a #4 seed here doesn’t stop Love Lockdown from getting the 808s treatment.
Winner: Blood On The Leaves (12-3)
Round of 64
To determine who “won” each match-up I polled 13 people who ranged from hardcore Kanye stans to “I actually have never heard My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in its entirety.” It was clearly a very wide variety of Kanye appreciation that I thought would accurately reflect his discography. Or maybe it’s the only 13 people willing to do this. Who knows.
These are the results for the Round of 64..
1. Jesus Walks vs. 16. Last Call
Mayonaise-coloured Benz; I push miracle whips is a G.O.A.T Kanye bar, so is that whole verse for that matter, but let’s be real, Last Call never had a chance.
Winner: Jesus Walks (11-2)
2. Diamonds (Remix) vs. 15. Two Words
Two Words is a super underrated cut from College Dropout, but Diamonds has one of the best verses I and you have ever heard. So what if it wasn’t from the guy we’re actually talking about?
Winner: Diamonds (Remix) (12-1)
3. Through The Wire vs. 14. Drive Slow
Drive Slow is the perfect nighttime cruising song, but that’s not enough here (it was way closer than I thought it would be though).
Winner: Through The Wire (8-5)
4. All Falls Down vs. 13. We Don’t Care
Shoutouts to Jeremy who is the only person in the world who would probably vote for We Don’t Care.
Winner: All Falls Down (12-1)
5. Touch The Sky vs. 12. We Major
Battle of the horn sections. I was a silent minority voting for We Major on this one apparently as Touch The Sky takes it.
Winner: Touch The Sky (10-3)
6. Gold Digger vs. 11. Spaceship
18 years! 18 years! That’s all I need here.
Winner: Gold Digger (8-5)
7. Heard Em Say vs. 10. Slow Jamz
So far there have been no upsets, but that’s to be expected considering Kanye’s best songs are just too good to pass up on. Heard Em Say is a classic.
Winner: Heard Em Say (8-5)
8: Hey Mama vs. 9: Gone
By far the closest matchup based on everyone I asked. This was too tough a call for the first round of voting as both songs are standouts on Late Registration. Hey Mama is beautiful, but the last verse of Gone as a way to cap off the album was just perfect.
Winner: Gone (7-6)
1. Stronger vs. 16. HAM
Stronger is the Villanova of this bracket. High expectations as a #1 seed, but they’re prime to get knocked off in an upset down the stretch.
Winner: Stronger (11-2)
2. Niggas in Paris vs. 15. Cold
No one’s gonna vote against Niggas in Paris. No. One.
Winner: Niggas in Paris (13-0)
3. Can’t Tell Me Nothing vs. 14. I Wonder
Very tough matchup for I Wonder and I applaud them for even getting two votes. Gotta wonder (ha) if it would’ve had a better chance in another region.
Winner: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (11-2)
4. Flashing Lights vs. 13. Everything I Am
Flashing Lights is the reason I like Kanye West. Or the reason I finally admitted to it. Every time I hopped in the whip (in Grand Theft Auto IV) it was playing on the radio. I was hooked.
Winner: Flashing Lights (9-4)
5. Mercy vs. 12. Good Morning
Have you ever woken up and listened to Good Morning right off the bat? It’s perfect.
Now have you ever woken up listening to Mercy? Literally ready to get lit at 8 am.
Winner: Mercy (10-3)
6. Good Life vs. 11. New God Flow
Ryan is pissed. Good Life was in his final four. But, New God Flow, fuck everything else.
Winner: New God Flow (7-6)
7. Clique vs. 10. Gotta Have It
Clique sort of feels underseeded here. It wins in a rout.
Winner: Clique (11-2)
8: Otis vs. 9: No Church In The Wild
This was one of the toughest choices for me. Flawless cuts off Watch The Throne still go hard to this day. I remember the first time I heard both, it was like nothing I had ever heard before. I ain’t mad about either song winning, just that one of em has to go home.
Winner: Otis (7-6)
Someone voted for Don’t Look Down. It got a vote. I can’t believe it. Also the one won’t format properly. I don’t know which of these things bothers me more. Okay it’s someone voting for Don’t Look Down over Runaway. And by someone I mean Alisha.
Winner: Runaway (12-1)
2. Power vs. 15. Lord Lord Lord
My favourite Kanye song of all time goes undefeated here, obviously. A fun fact is that I did not like Power the first time I heard it.
Winner: Power (13-0)
3. All Of The Lights vs. 14. Looking For Trouble
Looking For Trouble should get negative votes because it gave me the initial impression that I should be fucking with Big Sean and J. Cole.
Winner: All Of The Lights (13-0)
4. Monster vs. 13. Chain Heavy
This is really just a formality at this point. These songs didn’t even make the album! They’re not gonna knock off a heavyweight.
Winner: Monster (13-0)
5. Devil in a New Dress vs. 12. Christian Dior Denim Flow
The best of the GOOD Friday tracks, Christian Dior Denim Flow actually takes two away from Devil in a New Dress. A great song that deserved a better fate.
Winner: Devil in a New Dress (11-2)
6. Lost in the World vs. 11. Hell of a Life
Finally, a worthy matchup from this bracket. Picking between any two songs on MBDTF is a toughie and this is no different. But Bon Iver takes it. Who knew Bon Iver would be a welcome addition to a hip hop album?
Winner: Lost in the World (9-4)
7. Blame Game vs. 10. So Appalled
Does Blame Game have the best rap skit of all time? The answer is yes. But I’ve only listened to like eight rap albums in my life so someone give me an actual answer please.
Also remember what I said about Looking For Trouble? Mhm, same rule applies here for CyHi the Prince. (Just kidding, I voted for So Appalled).
Winner: So Appalled (9-4)
8: Gorgeous vs. 9: Dark Fantasy
Another hectic 8 vs. 9 matchup. The two opening tirades from the album are among Ye’s best work lyrically, but Gorgeous just had too many Urkells on their team (that’s why they wins low! hey!)
Winner: Dark Fantasy (7-6)
1. New Slaves vs. 16. Say You Will
I think one of the voters was having a rough day because he voted four 808s tracks to the next round including this one. It was the only vote for Say You Will.
Winner: New Slaves (12-1)
2. Heartless vs. 15. Send It Up
The most racist thing I’ve ever seen is my store having a white person’s cover of Heartless on the store’s playlist and not the real thing. How could you be so heartless, Food Basics?
Winner: Heartless (11-2)
3. Black Skinhead vs. 14. Street Lights
Street Lights is just happy to be here, guys.
Winner: Black Skinhead (13-0)
4. Love Lockdown vs. 13. Paranoid
Very close matchup here, but that thump in Love Lockdown is just too good.
Winner: Love Lockdown (8-5)
5. Blood On The Leaves vs. 12. I Am A God
No surprises here, Blood On The Leaves has everything you could ever want from a Kanye song.
Winner: Blood On The Leaves (11-2)
6. Bound 2 vs. 11. Coldest Winter
I know it’s the favourite here, but there’s no way Bound 2 should’ve won this matchup. How many of y’all just didn’t finish listening to 808s before getting to the best track on it? For shame.
Winner: Bound 2 (9-4)
7. Amazing vs. 10. I’m In It
Hey Aziz, you know that song Amazing? It’s Amazing!
We won’t have that moment now.
I’m genuinely saddened by this.
Winner: I’m In It (8-5)
8: Hold My Liquor vs. 9: Welcome To Heartbreak
Another close 8 vs. 9 battle haha just kidding, wow.
Winner: Hold My Liquor (12-1)
If you want a vote, holler at your boy. If you want to complain about the selections you know where to find me. The next round will be up tomorrow. Probably.