"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 would stoop/Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe."
Song: "All Falls Down" (2004)
Album: College Dropout
Conscious Or Ign'ant?: Conscious
"All Falls Down" was one of Kanye's early masterpieces, a point at which his anger and glee and goofiness and intelligence and vulgarity all intersected in a single moment of irrefutable charm. Herein is one of the finest articulations of one of the artist's most crucial messages: No matter how rich you get, you can't buy your way out of blackness. "All Falls Down" verbalizes something that smart rappers had been pointing out for years: Material aspirations are only an inadequate attempt to heal the degradation of slavery. Does it work? Of course not, but the ongoing internal conflict over that query would provide the foundation for the rest of Kanye's career.