178. Kanye West – ‘Love Lockdown’ (2008)

“I’m not loving you
The way I wanted to
What I had to do
Had to run from you
I’m in love with you
But the vibe is wrong
And that haunted me
All the way home”


Taken from the album 808s & Heartbreak

US #3, UK #8, AUS #18

‘Love Lockdown’ premiered at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, and from that moment I went into a frenzy to find the live version, then the demo, then the original version. I was obsessed with this song, in every incarnation, I was enthralled by it’s minimalism, by the heartache contained within, the magic of less-is-more. ‘Love Lockdown’ is the masterpiece within the masterpiece that is 808s & Heartbreak.

The song is backed by a simple 808 pattern, repeated over and over, while Kanye sings in glorious auto-tuned vocals. The lyrics are scattered, stream-of-consciousness stuff, painful and emotional but easy to relate to. The effects over Kanye’s voice – especially on bits like “system overload” – are perfect, and the eventual layers of instruments, like those incredible drums, build up the intensity of the track.

Before the release of the very personal album, ‘Love Lockdown’ showcased a new, intimate side to Kanye West, a vulnerable artist who is seemingly losing everything. It’s a sad story behind a sad album, and this song is among the most revealing moments. Lyrically, vocally, this is stunning. Add in the adventurous production – proof that you don’t have to throw in the kitchen sink to be adventurous – and this is absolute perfection.

Music video:

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