Kanye and Jay-Z started the ball rolling on West’s Late Graduation album, but it wasn’t until Lupe hijacked the beats and shamed the bling-bling mentality that the real power of the message became clear. Yeah, Lupe beat both Ye and Hova.
Yes, that’s right. Lupe Fiasco.
Still, one has to admire the usually self-absorbed Kanye for creating a song about the use of children to mine diamonds in Africa.
Like most of his early hits, the song borrows heavily from other source material—in this case, the Shirley Bassey theme to a James Bond film. Also like many of his hits, it features guest vocals by a couple rappers who are much better than Kanye. Jay-Z appears on the remix included on the album, and Jay-Z generously gives Kanye some of the best work the latter half of his career—including the line, “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man!/Let me handle my business.”
The song won a 2005 Grammy. It was released on May 31, 2005.
Here’s some covers in tribute.