Kanye West: 20 Songs You Didn’t Know He Produced – Rolling Stone
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20 Songs You Didn’t Know Kanye West Produced

Mos Def, Lil Wayne, Mariah Carey and more deeper cuts from the hip-hop icon

Kanye West

Kanye West produced songs for many rap stars before he got famous.

J. Emilio Flores/Corbis

Kanye West is one of music’s biggest stars and his roots as an in-demand beatsmith are well-known: He ­produced huge hits for Ludacris (“Stand Up”) and Alicia Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”), and played a major role in the sound of Jay-Z’s classic The Blueprint. Still, West produced dozens of tracks, often for major label releases, that went under the radar. Sometimes the track languished on a low selling album, did little damage to the singles charts or simply wasn’t associated with him because of the absence of a shout-out or his signature chipmunk soul samples. Here are 20 Kanye West productions that you may not know.

Kanye West; Producer

Petey Pablo, “I Swear” (2004)

Tucked away in the second half of Petey Pablo's 2004 album Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, between raucous Lil Jon and Timbaland bangers, "I Swear" was a surprisingly clubby Kanye West production, cut from the same cloth as the Ludacris chart-topper "Stand Up."

Kanye West; Producer

Mariah Carey, “Stay The Night” (2005)

In 2002, Kanye West almost placed a track on Mariah Carey's Charmbracelet, but it's for the best that it didn't happen – the beat wound up as Talib Kweli's classic single "Get By." Instead, West ended up with a track on Carey's blockbuster comeback LP, 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi.

Kanye West; Producer

Alicia Keys, “Unbreakable” (2005)

About a decade ago, Kanye West and longtime collaborator No I.D. were so enamored of a particular sample from the 1978 Eddie Kendricks hit "Intimate Friends," that it wound up anchoring three different songs. West used it on the west coast supergroup 213's "Another Summer" and No I.D. flipped the sample similarly on Rhymefest's "Sister." But the sample most famously inspired the Alicia Keys song "Unbreakable," a studio outtake produced by West that Keys performed on MTV Unplugged.

Kanye West; Producer

Diddy feat. Cee-Lo, Nas, “Everything I Love” (2006)

A few weeks ago, Kanye West tweeted, "Puff Daddy is the most important cultural figure in my life. His influence means everything to me." Given that influence and how many mutual friends they share, it's surprising how little the two producer/rapper/moguls have actually collaborated. Their most notable work together is "Everything I Love," a West-produced track from Diddy's 2006 album Press Play, a moody and R&B-heavy album that preceded 808s & Heartbreak by a couple years.

Kanye West; Producer

Lil Wayne, “Did It Before” (2007)

Kanye West nearly signed with Cash Money Records before he solidified his relationship with Roc-a-Fella. But it wasn't until years later that West began working heavily with one of their artists, while Lil Wayne was recording his blockbuster 2008 album Tha Carter III. West wound up with two productions on the final album, but "Did It Before" was among Wayne's many studio outtakes that mixtape DJs leaked in 2007.

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