KANYE WEST (w/ Jay Z) / “Diamonds”

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17 Responses to “KANYE WEST (w/ Jay Z) / “Diamonds””

Jarvis Says:
July 10th, 2005 at 7:40 pm


Now that I’ve wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes, I think I can properly respond to your comments.

Whether or not one agrees with the message in “All Falls Down,” i.e., I know I should be doing better but the temptation to do wrong is too strong, I think one has to agree that you only get one bite at that apple.

The repetition of that theme is likely to earn you a big “whatever, dude.”

I don’t want to dismiss the legitimacy of conflict. I mean, we’re all torn about something or another, aren’t we? But most of us, when we’re sincere, grapple with that conflict privately or we show some real struggle.

Doesn’t seem to me that Kanye has tried living a bling-free life. Instead, he seems to think that as he’s the “only rapper with a Benz and a backpack” that all he has to say is that it troubles him and that will earn him some dap from those who are genuinely concerned about what’s going on in Sierra Leone.

Nothing he has done or even said suggests sacrifice. If the lives of armless babies really means something to you — if it’s more than rhetoric — how ’bout you stop? Otherwise, you’re exploiting them — ironically — in the pursuit of even more bling.

Now with all that said, I wonder if it doesn’t make a difference if we extract Kanye’s ego from the whole equation. Not an easy task, I know, but what if someone unfamiliar with “All Falls Down” hears “Diamonds” and doesn’t know that the latter track has an air of sincerity? Could it help raise awareness?

I think it could. I wonder if part of the issue here isn’t the implication of “realness,” that aspect of hip-hop that suggests that everything the artist raps is supposed to be true to his/her life? So it’s easy to criticize Kanye because he doesn’t even seem to believe what he’s saying. Still, the words might linger and convince somebody to chill with the bling.

Okay, I’m not sure even I believe that. Because as hip-hop is obsessed with realness it’s doubtful that a listener is gonna tune in and NOT know about Kanye the person, Kanye the public figure. Kanye the hypocrite.

I might as well say here that I could never truly dig Tupac because of that huge chasm between his words and actions. The chasm between his allegedly up-with-the-people political beliefs and the hit ’em up lyrics. I get tired of folks like Michael Eric Dyson telling me what a great thinker ‘Pac was or how loving he was when so much of his work was violent. I do however think his conflict was sincere even if he never quite found his way out of it. Kanye, with all his cleverness, seems incapable of sincerity. The family reunion song on “College Dropout” might be the exception

Sorry for the length of this. But I’m feeling you. Kanye, if you’re really concerned about the babies, you might want to stop buying and wearing the diamonds. Seems like that’s the least you could do.

– Jarvis

Nadir L. Bomani Says:
July 11th, 2005 at 2:02 am

mtume, you don’t have to be apologetic for your cussin’ and critical views of today’s latest pop icon. most of the music is already offensive.

kalamu – don’t put too much thought into wild wild west’s flawed attempt at tryin’ to duplicate his other overproduced hit "jesus walks."

the cat from chicago is about as deep as piss in a popeyes restroom. that same ol: you doubted me, now look at my watch. shit was getting tired last album.

and about his debut: i resented the fact that he made college look like some square shit cuz he didn’t finish, but his maw is a professor.

anyway, jesus wouldn’t wear ice because he was a carpenter/message cat who ran with 12 other bruhs from the hood.

can you imagine a jehovah’s witness bringing the ‘word’ to your stoop with bling on?

my bold prediction: after late registration, kanye (the mc) will be as relevant to pop music as any other artist still holding up the roc sign that isn’t featured on "Jaz’s" first album (1989).

Dude just doesn’t have anything interesting to say.  -nadir

     Mtume says:                                                                                         

As I much I hate to say this, Nadir, your prediction is 100% wrong. After repeatedly listening to the bloated monstrosity that is "Diamonds" (hey, I have to — what’s the rest of y’all’s excuse?), I predict more fame and fortune for Kanye. "Diamonds" is catchy, ‘sincere’ and club-friendly. In short, it’s a hit. I take that back. It’s a HIT!

"Gold Digga" is more of the same — the fans are gonna love it, particularly (and this is both ironic and horrific) the female fans. I predict that Kanye is going to have to live with that little dilemma of his ("Do I spend my millions foolishly?" versus "Do I spend my millions foolishly while saying I feel bad about it?") for at least a few more years.

Stephanie Renee Says:
July 11th, 2005 at 6:26 pm

There’s SO much that I wanted to say, but my uproarious laughter at Mtume’s rant has now de-energized me from making much of a comment at all…other than to say that I’ll continue to pray for both Kanye and Lauryn to wade their way out of the deep abyss they’ve created for themselves artistically and emotionally from the rubber-meets-the-road, life kicking yo azz existences they’re ensconsced in right now (Ms. Hill more than Mr. West, of course).

I mean, if a life-threatening car accident and thorough public humiliation aren’t enough to prompt true spiritual transformation and resolution, I dunno what is.

Mtume, I’m with you…t’ain’t no blinging happening with me either. I can’t even bring myself to buy new sneakers more than once every 3 years, so the idea of multi-carat flashiness is just, well, unfathomable.

Lex Ardeña Says:
July 11th, 2005 at 8:07 pm

On the subject of diamonds I would recommend the song Diamonds by Baby Blak, from his 2003 album Once You Go Blak. It’s basically saying the same as Kanye’s track, only a bit more aggressive, since he in no way can relate to wearing the things. Sadly his album only sold a few thousand copies in the US. Probably sold as much or more here in Europe, since it was on the British label BBE.

“Fuck the girl’s best friend, I’m the world’s best friend”

castro Says:
July 11th, 2005 at 11:21 pm

Peace Baba Kalamu and Mtume,

Hip Hop is like Oil…it has peaked, and is being depleted….(sips haterade or as I like to think, a tall cool glass of clear thinking)

Kanye and the rest of them are Amoco/BP/GM/Ford etc…steady desanguining the world. Diamonds is like a Ford SUV hybrid…I’m supposed to be impressed that it gets 25 miles to the gallon…when it still functioning like everything else that is messing the world up.

Hip-Hop has left me numb. Everyonce in a blue moon, somebody like 9th Wonder will snap me to attention…but Kanye has never moved me. Nice beats. Yeah, but I can get the same caliber of beats from listening to Brothers around the way…like Raw Latinum (Bmore/Brooklyn)…

On the other hand, I’m not really discouraged in that I am a steadfast believer in the idea that the energy that moved Blk folks to birth Bebop and Hip Hop will result in another incarnation of Music/Movement expression. My one hope is that we will this go round be better stewards/guardians.

When Kanye is broke from spending money to put fuel in his Platinum plated Hummer and frustrated because his 15 minutes is up, our seeds will pass by on a solar powered bike, beatboxing the cadence to a beat that points towards the future, but samples a Art Blakey solo…..

Marian Says:
July 12th, 2005 at 12:55 am

Ok, I listened to BBC interview. How old is Kayne West? He sounds incredibly young, incredibly hyped on testosterone—but hey, Cesare Borgia was a cardinal by age 22. Cosimo I de’ Medici became prince at only 17. Somehow, this era doesn’t feel like the Renaissance however. I am confused about the tracks here. There’s track 3-that celebrates the cult of Diamonds. There’s the repentant track 4. How is track 5 different? Is it just the combination of the 2 earlier ones? Is Lupe’s version still in the jukebox? Kanye West’s version of “All Falls Down” is one long jeer. It’s so easy to be cynical. But I have to admit that I haven’t the slightest idea what Ms. Hill was talking about. I have to see if I can find the lyrics online somewhere.

           Kalamu says:                                                                         

Marian, I have added names to help distinguish the tracks. I forgot to remember that to many adults, all rappers sound the same. You know it might be easier to appreciate "how" they are flowing if they were speaking a foreign language that you knew you didn’t understand. That way you wouldn’t get hung up trying to "understand" what they are saying, because in rap "how" is often equally or even more important than "what". It may be that part of the reason you don’t get "it" is because "it" (the specific meaning of the words) is not as deep as how they hook the words up within the context of the beats. And then again, like the esteemed JB was wont to say, maybe they are just talking loud and saying nothing. And saying nothing. On the other hand, perhaps it’s coded discourse in a language that is foreign to you.

When bebop was happening there was a whole lot of jive talking going on. Vocalists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Babs Gonzalez, and many others sang what some people called nonsense songs. Their lyrics were often onomatopoetic syllables mixed with slang and the jargon of bebop. These "lyrics" were completely baffling to the uninitiated. Before bebop, within the realm of blues, there was a whole genre known as "hokum" songs. They were funny and sometimes very witty, but again to those outside of that specific sub-culture, the meaning was not only elusive, there seemed to be no sense to it at all. I believe a similar phenomenon is happening with rap.

As for Lauryn Hill’s "Iniquity," I hear it as a critique of the social order that is made using the criminal justice system as a metaphor for society at large. However, I suspect that even if you had the words, the meaning would still not be all that clear to you because the beauty of the track is in how she makes the critique rather than in the insightfulness of the critique itself. Or, to quote an old R&B lyric: it ain’t what you do, but the way that you do it! Seen? Heard?

To read the Lauryn Hill lyrics to Mystery click here


Marian Says:
July 12th, 2005 at 12:09 pm

I did find Lauryn Hill’s lyrics to be a condemnation of the current political and legal environment. (Even I caught the reference to Bush.) However, IMHO, the content is more interesting than the form. If I were more interested in form, the KWest’s entry might be more interesting because he’s layered another rhythmic track on top of hers. Instead, the content is a cynical reaction to caring what is going on in the world. It’s a complaint that Hill is not as exploitive as a young beautiful woman should be. (That’s a woman’s only talent, isn’t it?)

If content is immaterial, then why the verbal jousting between performers? Why is Mtume indignant that these performers’ words don’t match their actions? Meanwhile, I am trying to imagine a scat contest. No content—just pure form. I have at least one Louis Armstrong CD that includes Ella Fitzgerald. Or would a contest with Sarah Vaughan be better?

I am at risk at sounding as if I prefer content – and I’m a true Jazz and modern classical music fan. I love abstracts and ambiguity. I guess my problem is accepting lyrics as mere sound patterns.

senacle Says:
July 12th, 2005 at 12:43 pm

First, love the site. Second, I think both of you expressed valid points about Kanye and just hip-hop in general. Even though I give Kanye credit for infusing some additional consciousness into hip-hop in a way that others like Common haven’t been able to generate a mainstream appeal, I still think kanye’s full of himself. He can act like he’s had to fight all his life, but at some point he needs to realize that he’s successful now — and righteously that doesn’t give him the inherent right to shit on everybody else. With success comes humility. As for “Diamonds,” it is a hit, a club-friendly tune — one made moreso by Jay-Z who totally removes the song from the Sierre Leone awareness that Kanye started with and turns it into some trivial mess. Good night, for real.

Adia Blackmon Says:
July 12th, 2005 at 7:08 pm

Amen and Ashe to that shit (sorry for the appearing sacrilige but it is what I could immediately muster)! I peace both of you brothers up. Thank you for showing the beauty in sharing between generations, learning and teaching. I laughed out loud in response to Mtume’s initial response and then to Kalamu’s celebration of discourse between the first two posts (Kalamu’s and Mtume’s). I was tickled at being saddened, delighted, enlightened, shouting in affirmation, and laughing through tears. Kalamu you have raised an awesome son and Mtume you have raised an awesome father. I still want to love hip-hop but so much of it only makes space for me to be someone’s ho, wifey, or gold digger. I appreciate what you two have done here; I pray Kanye or someone with the same exposure reads it and thinks about how much power they’ve been given because what they say is heard far and wide. I am sitting here in drunken delight at your words, back and forth to each other and to us, and the masterful inserts of your links and pictures. At our seminary baccalaureate our speaker said something about our current government and it sounded like he was going to cuss to which he responded “some things are so profane they must be spoken of with profanity.” Peace.

Caleb Balloch Says:
July 14th, 2005 at 12:32 pm

I had a lot of faith in Kanye West to bringing something new to an over-crunked gansta hip-hop that seemed to have risen several years ago. I followed Kanye as an MC since he released his first single, Through the Wire, because I heard a humble and grateful MC rapping over a great instrumental. Not to mention the fact that it was straight fire. However, after buying Kanye’s first album as it was released, Kanye has filled me with little more than disappointment.

Kanye has neither the rhymes, nor the flow, nor the lyrical content to be considered even a good MC. Using the same word two or three times isn’t rhyming, that’s repetition. Don’t get me wrong, that can be hot, just as Jay-Z did on ‘22 Twos’ on Reasonable Doubt, but certainly not how Kanye does it. The majority of Kanye’s rhymes consist of him changing the syllables of a word to fit the rhyme, such as his famous “securrre”. While this also works sometimes, with Snoop Dogg as example, Kanye lacks the flow that makes you think twice about the rhyme you just heard. When Kanye does it, you know instantly that something was fucked up. After six or seven in a row, it really kills the song. As for his lyrical content, my initial impression of the man could not have been farther from the truth. With his release of Through the Wire, and some-how-leaked version of Family Business, along with several others, Kanye was poised to be the next big hit, and this time it was a guy who didn’t rap about cars and clothes; but about shit that matters. Some how, even before he sold way-to-many copies of his first album, he was already drowning in bling.
As for his producing, that is another story. Kanye dropped into the game as a producer, and did he ever produce some hot beats! He still does it every once and a while now. But the problem with his production is that it doesn’t change. This need was put into words best by Primo and Guru before on the intro of their classic Moment of Truth:

“That makes me know that, we we we we’re doin
We had the right idea in the beginning
And and we just need to maintain our focus, and elevate
We what we do we update our formulas
We have certain formulas but we update em (oh right)
with the times, and everything y’know
And and so.. y’know
The rhyme style is elevated
The style of beats is elevated”

Kanye doesn’t do that. He did have the right idea, he does have some great formulas. But he doesn’t update them. Kanye still has some flashes, like Corners by Common (talk about change!), but on the whole, his production is just getting complacent. It’s the same shit over and over.
Diamond’s production is just too pop for me. The original lyrics were sour, and made it worse. When Lupe Fiasco put out his own, it was decent because he had the lyrical content and the decent rhymes that Kanye lacked. It made you sit and want to listen to the lyrics. As for the third version, had Mtume not shed light on the timeline of things, I would probably have been relieved to hear that Kanye finally has something to say worth listening to, but now I see he doesn’t. As for Jay-Z, he has my respect (not that he wants or needs it), but that verse was shit.

Kanye is a popular artist because he has catchy beats. A lot of the consumers out there can’t really follow the lyrics, or just prefer not to. Hell, in a club, nobody gives a shit about rhymes. Kanye’s album will sell because its hype, but hopefully we’ll find that there is more than that (although from the first two releases, don’t get your hopes up). Kanye’s sophomore album is going to sell; hell, I’ll probably still pick it up eventually. But like Mtume, I’m not going to be breaking anyone’s necks either. Sorry for the rant.


Arjanay Says:
July 23rd, 2005 at 8:55 pm

Hey whoever reply negative about kanye’s Diamonds are selfish forgive me but it is the truth the video is real the lyrics are real I see kanye as an activist. It is like he is educating us the hip hop generation about what is going on in africa this is a cause and not to be played with. I understand that a lot of us don’t spend tons of money on diamonds but we want princess cut diamonds and diamond this on if it is a half of carat rather we deny it or not and some of us don’t want ice but we know alot of people do. THis message that kanye is sending out is to let us know that over here in america we do take alot for granted when there is other serious issues going on. And kanye is known for his beats but alot of people are reseaching sierra leone history and the conflict diamonds did you know that this war in sierra leone and the blood diamond was current up until 5 years ago so take the positive things that he is saying research the information and be an activist educate others about this cause ans stop searching for the negative things in life

Brittany Says:
July 24th, 2005 at 12:26 am

Despite that it’s taking so long to make the album, true fans will go out and buy the cd, even if it can already be downloaded. I love the fact that rappers are reaching out to the poverty or the world instead of the good life. I got Kanye’s first cd and im definitely getting the new one.

Dirty Says:
September 24th, 2005 at 5:47 pm

It really saddens me. Kanye could of made this song much bigger by only talking about diamonds, and how basically evil they are.. and not talking about the ROC. I think he should of just BIT baby blak’s song if he didnt have the orignality, creativity and consiousness to bring the truth to light and really making an impact, cuz shit these dumb mothefukas (not you kanye) are still all up in my face on mtv showing me their ugly ass daimonds…….


PLEASE LISTEN TO ONE BE LO’s AXIS (kanye could of done that song, well maybe it’ll be on his next album?!)

nina Says:
November 30th, 2006 at 1:55 am

i just wanted to know if he was a jehovah

Kanye is too Legit Says:
July 18th, 2007 at 10:50 pm

Y’all don’t know sh*t if your straight clownin on Kanye… He has got that fire’y dank music.

chino green Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 11:23 am

fuck Kanye, his an exploiter,,i am from sierra leone n am sick of this shit..

Dkicker Says:
April 27th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

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