42

Love Lockdown

Kanye West

808s & Heartbreak (2008)

He may have a gigantic ego, but Kanye West actually has quite a bit of talent to back it up. Were this a top 100, he could easily have 3 or 4 more songs on the list. In fact, I’m still not even sure if “Love Lockdown” is his best (“Jesus Walks” and “Stronger” both come to mind as strong alternatives). But this song completely caught me off guard when I first heard it — the boastfulness has been replaced with, well, “heartbreak” as the album’s title implies. And Kanye is… singing, instead of rapping, albeit with the heavy assistance of auto-tuner. Of all the things I ever expected to get from Kanye West, “emotionally raw” was never on the list. And yet here it is, and it is beautifully well done.

Also check out: Kid Cudi’s “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)” – a similarly sad turn from another otherwise pop-inflected rapper