“Blame Game” by Kanye West (featuring John Legend & Chris Rock, 2010)

“Blame Game” is the song that best strikes a balance between Genius Kanye and Definitely-Off-His-Meds Kanye.

Clearly inspired by a breakup, “Blame Game” is a mournful piano ballad, intro-ed by a literal sigh by John Legend. Talk about setting a tone.

As mournful as the song begins, shit gets truly unhinged in the second verse. Kanye throws out accusations, excuses and straight up bile. Words fly in and out of the speakers in rapid-fire fashion. What makes the verse even more unsettling is that Kanye pitches his voice up and down with each successive line. It’s like all of the voices in Kanye’s head have ganged up in anger. He even drops in a line from “All Of The Lights,” a song that appears 20 minutes earlier on the same album. I want to use the word “unhinged” again because…well, because it fits. What an uncomfortable, yet thrilling, listen.

“Blame Game” continues with a spoken word passage from Kanye, which makes you realize that the song is framed as a phone argument. They hang up, but then his girlfriend butt-dials him, and Kanye listens to a post-coital conversation with his former partner and her new boyfriend, played by Chris Rock. The next two or so minutes are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking.

“Blame Game” is essentially a one-act play. High drama, poignant lyricism and crystal-clear production make it a high point in Kanye’s later catalog.

There’s two weirdly disturbing (and lengthy) songs in a row for you.

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