21. Kanye West f/ Mos Def & Freeway "Two Words" (2004)
Album: The College Dropout
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Early in his career, Kanye was representing at least two different scenes. He appealed to the Rawkus crowd, and stayed true to certain hip-hop aesthetics that were badges of honor worn by backpackers (for lack of a better term). He toured and rapped alongside the likes of Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Common. But there was another side to Ye. He was, after all, the guy who bragged about going to Jacob with 25 thou. And of course he was signed to Roc-A-Fella, whose boss was the symbol of hip-hop opulence. So when Kanye threw Freeway on songs with Mos Def, or put Talib Kweli on songs with Jay-Z, he was trying to bridge the gap. His success at balancing both worlds is best evidenced on “Two Words.”
Putting these three artists together on one song proved one thing: rappers have more in common than they don’t. Kanye knew this, and he crafted the perfect beat backed by Miri Bin-Ari’s strings..
Two words: backpack, commercial. That’s what this track represented, and that’s why Kanye wins. He’s truly the best of both worlds.