Released in 2010 after almost a year of self-imposed exile, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was quickly heralded as the rapper-producer’s best album, and has since been cemented as arguably the best hip hop album of the 2010s.
For the album’s recording, Kanye went all-out, linking up with some of his favourite rappers and producers to create an all-star line-up that included Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Bon Iver, Rick Ross, John Legend, Swizz Beatz, and Raekwon. On the production tip, the album’s liner notes boasted RZA, No I.D., Bink, S1, Plain Pat, Mike Dean, Jeff Bhasker, Emile, and DJ Frank E.
In addition, there are actually 14 other artists who contributed vocals to “All of the Lights”: Rihanna, Alicia Keys, John Legend, The-Dream, Drake, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, Ryan Leslie, Charlie Wilson, Tony Williams, Elly Jackson, Alvin Fields, Ken Lewis.
According to an interview with MTV News, Elly Jackson of La Roux explained the recording process for “All of the Lights”:
Elly Jackson: He got me to layer up all these vocals with other people, and he just basically wanted to use his favorite vocalists from around the world to create this really unique vocal texture on his record, but it’s not the kind of thing where you can pick it out,” she said. “I don’t have a verse or anything. I can’t actually hear my voice on it, but apparently it’s there!Kanye’s ‘All Of The Lights’: A Vocal Breakdown | MTV
“‘All The Lights’ is a futurist song that started out as a Jeezy record with horns on it, Kanye revealed in a 2013 interview. “Then we put in another bridge, then Dream wrote the hook, then Rihanna sang it, and by the time you got it, it was to the level of like, the Nike Flyknit or something like that.”
Released as the fourth single off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy accompanied by a Hype Williams-directed video, “All of the Lights” peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Grammy Awards for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. It was also nominated for Song of the Year.