211. Kanye West featuring Jay-Z & J. Ivy – ‘Never Let Me Down’ (2004)

“I too dream in colour and in rhyme
I guess I’m one of a kind in a full house
Because whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God reigns out”

Taken from the album The College Dropout

Ooh, do I ever feel the power in this one. This is what makes me love hip-hop. This is where it’s at. I had no idea who J. Ivy was until I started poking around for this article – because I needed to know who that voice was, those lyrics, that incredible poetry, and it turns out he actual is a poet, not a rapper, and I believe ‘Never Let Me Down’ existed as one of his works before Kanye West reinvented it as one of the most uplifting, beautiful hip-hop song you’ll ever hear.

Let’s start with the first two verses and the sampled chorus however, which are delivered by two of the most powerful rappers in the business, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Their verses are among their best work ever, featuring classic line after classic line, their flow impeccable. The beat and the sample have a soulful edge to them that contrasts with the heavy verses, but it still sounds spiritual and important.

Then comes J. Ivy’s verse. There’s really not much I can say about it, it is simply one of the most amazing things I have ever heard in my entire life. When he says:

“If I were on the highest cliff, on the highest riff
And you slipped off the side and clinched on to your life in my grip
I would never, ever let you down”

I get chills every time. I beg of you to listen to it if you’re interested in hip-hop, poetry – just lyrics in general. ‘Never Let Me Down’ is a production that has come together perfectly on all sides, one of the very best examples of Kanye West’s skill and Jay-Z’s power, with J. Ivy making an impact that won’t be forgotten easily.

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