Title: All Falls Down
Artist: Kanye West
Album: The College Dropout
Yes, he's crazy and yes, he ran up on stage and stole the trophy from that poor little white girl. But that doesn't change the fact that Kanye West has made some of the most innovative hip-hop records over the last eight years.
I've always been amazed by the vision some producers and artists have when it comes to sampling. The chorus that opens "All Falls Down" is a re-performance (not a sample—couldn't get clearance in time) of a Lauren Hill record called "Mystery of Iniquity." I listened to the track and, while I will admit I'm not very fond of Lauren Hill, I think I'm being fair when I say West cribbed the very best part of the song.
But of course, it's what West lays on top of and all around this refrain that really matters. The first part of his rap is kind of a humorous little take on a materialistic college girl, with clever (perhaps annoying?) pseudo-rhymes that tantalize the brain (insecurr, carurr, yerrr, herrre). West's rap style borders on singing at times and it's quickly apparent that varying pitch levels are essential to his approach.
It's in the second verse that the joke turns serious with West making a pretty powerful statement about the emphasis on expensive name-brand possessions in the black community, his thesis being that this insatiable need to flaunt wealth is a manifestation of feelings of insecurity. He goes so far as to suggest that this state is just a different kind of enslavement, ending the verse with a wicked homophone.
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe