Album: The College Dropout
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus—but Kanye did just that, and made a certified hit. Kanye's third single from The College Dropout was definitely a crapshoot. Can you imagine the meeting at Def Jam when they pitched this idea? But 'Ye made the impossible possible when "Jesus Walks" shot to the top of the charts, winning praise from critics and fans alike.
The pulsating drums, marching-band flavor, and background gospel chants were unlike anything else in hip-hop. It's hard to imagine that countless artists passed on this beat and the track sat in Kanye’s archives for years. Then again, it's debatable that any other artist could've done justice to the lush soundscape.
"Jesus Walks" would go on to win Rap Song of the Year at the 2005 Grammy Awards, proving that religious hip-hop could win big in a mostly secular music industry. Somewhere, DC Talk is pissed.