Review: Kanye West – ‘Famous’


'Famous' maintains the tempo and vibe of the album, but with so much controversy surrounding its lyrical content its hard to appreciate its musicality for what it is.

  • Misunderstood

This week saw the release of Kanye West’s brand new single ‘Famous’, from his latest project The Life of Pablo. There is a certain hybridity within this track: the use of Nina Simone and Sister Nancy samples showcase an old school vibe particular to Kanye’s earlier albums; yet Swizz Beats’ distinctive production adds an air of EBM grittiness to the song, sonically similar to Kanye’s Yeezus album. Stylistic juxtaposition is not something new for Kanye, yet in the case of ’Famous’ it has allowed the track to stay fresh and relevant.

For some, Rihanna’s featured vocals on the song’s hook may seem unnecessary when compared with the original ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ sung by Nina Simone. From first impressions her voice does not seem to ruin the melodic integrity of the original and is an acceptable interpretation of Nina’s style. Moreover Rihanna brings a heightened level of commercialism and relevancy to the track – potentially attracting a new audience to Nina’s music.

However despite ALL of this, the Chicago rapper and producer has still managed to cause more controversy than a Donald Trump presidency campaign. This track does not fail to reignite drama from the very start, making reference back to Kanye’s notorious VMA moment with Taylor Swift in 2009. Kanye’s declaration in his opening lines “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex // Why?// I made that b***h famous” caused a level of worldwide uproar among feminists and ‘Swifties’ alike that is too in-depth to elaborate on.

This controversy has shrouded the track’s musicality, which is nothing new for Kanye but unfortunately takes away from the track’s integrity and production. However what it does do is bring into question the polarizing arguments around the nature of lyrical content and appropriateness, particularly within the genres of Rap and Hip-Hop.

 ‘Famous’ is out now via Def Jam.


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Spanish and Linguistics Graduate. Singer-songwriter.

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