Album: The College Dropout

Kanye's long, conflicted relationship with materialism and ego may not be better articulated anywhere than in the second single from College Dropout. The song opens with a third person narrative about a female protagonist, but in the second verse Kanye shifts the focus to himself, mocking his struggle for status with self-deprecating quotables like "I can't even pronounce nothin', pass that Ver-say-cee." By the end of the verse, though, things have gotten more serious. The couplet "We shine because they hate us, floss 'cause they degrade us/We trying to buy back our 40 acres" hits hard in the middle of a pretty song, invoking the specter of slavery years before "New Slaves." Al Shipley