“Hey Mama” by Kanye West (2005)

There are lots of “mom dedication” songs in the annals of Black pop music. They didn’t start with hip-hop, either. The Intruders’ “I’ll Always Love My Mama”, The Spinners’ “Sadie”, even Jermaine Jackson’s utterly banal “Oh, Mother” all predated rap music’s popularization of open-hearted paeans to mama. One of the most, if not the most,… Read More “Hey Mama” by Kanye West (2005)

“Gold Digger” by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (2005)

Sometimes a thing that can seem a little too obvious and on the nose can actually work. Case in point: Kanye West and Jamie Foxx going back to the well for “Gold Digger”. To backtrack: Kanye’s breakthrough moment as an artist was as a guest artist on Twista’s “Slow Jamz” (Twista was credited as the… Read More “Gold Digger” by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (2005)

“Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” by Kanye West feat. Jay-Z (2005)

The original version of “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” (which I believe was just called “Diamonds”) is fine enough. I love the orchestral sweep of the production, thanks in part to the presence of Jon Brion, and thanks in part to the healthy sample of Shirley Bassey’s Bond theme “Diamonds Are Forever”. Kanye’s got that HDTV mindset, but is… Read More “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” by Kanye West feat. Jay-Z (2005)

“Be With You” by Mary J. Blige (1994)/”Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige (2005)

Two songs, performed a decade apart, charting MJB’s evolution from troubled young woman to triumphant survivor. “Be With You” appears on 1994’s My Life, which is widely considered to be the best MJB album (I agree). Mary’s singing about wanting to be with someone but wondering if the dude even wants her around. That pain… Read More “Be With You” by Mary J. Blige (1994)/”Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige (2005)