Kanye west has a mind-boggling 24 Grammy Award Wins for a combination of singles and albums between 2005 and 2022. So when it comes to hip hop royalty, few names shine as brightly as Kanye West. Derided by some, adored by others, this Chicago native has carved a niche for himself in the pantheon of the genre. His unapologetic swagger, innovative production styles, and lyrical prowess, often laced with social commentary, have set him apart. His work is not just recognized within the microcosm of hip hop either – it’s received some serious kudos in the form of Grammy Awards.
From his groundbreaking debut with “The College Dropout” to his boundary-pushing “Donda,” Kanye’s discography is filled with tracks that represent seismic shifts in the sonic landscape of hip hop. We’re talking about tracks like “Jesus Walks,” which deftly wove gospel influences into mainstream rap, and “Gold Digger,” a biting commentary on materialism and relationships. Or take “No Church in the Wild” and “Niggas in Paris”, where he teamed up with Jay-Z to create a whole new blueprint for collaborative anthems.
We also can’t disregard the cultural impact of tracks like “Stronger” and “Good Life,” which presented a fusion of electronic music and hip hop in a way that had never been done before. His collaborations too have been killer; “American Boy” and “Run This Town” stand out, underlining Kanye’s ability to cross over and add his unique flavor.
So let’s get into it. From the socially-conscious “Jesus Walks” to the incendiary “Jail,” here are the Top 15 Singles with Grammy Award Wins from Kanye West.
2022 – Best Rap Song Grammy Award
In true Kanye West fashion, it’s ambitious, melodramatic and packed with raw emotion. At its core, “Jail” speaks to Kanye’s own life struggles and pushes boundaries with its bold sound. The rock-infused track is injected with the signature soulful grooves that Kanye is loved for, but he wasn’t aiming for easy listening. Filled with heavy guitar riffs and the surprise feature from Jay-Z, it’s a testament to Kanye’s ability to captivate audiences with his creativity. While not a Grammy winner, it shows the constant evolution of this multi-faceted artist and helps solidify his status as one of hip hop’s most impactful figures. It’s vintage Kanye, unexpected, provocative, and deeply personal.
2022 – Best Melodic Rap Performance Grammy Award
Riding that 808s heartbeat, Yeezy marries the melancholy of his auto-tune croon with Kid Cudi’s ethereal hums, painting a vivid dreamscape. Lyrically, it’s pure Ye, reflecting on fame, loss, and redemption. It’s dense with the angst that defines his post-2000s work. A Grammy nod for the track was affirmation of Ye’s ability to fuse commercial soundscapes with complex emotional narratives, solidifying him as a creative tour de force in the industry. Yet, it’s also a potent reminder of the rough weather he’s navigated, both personally and professionally. “Hurricane” is Ye’s testament of survival – raw, introspective, and undeniably human.
13. No Church In The Wild
2013 – Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy Award
Delving into metaphysical philosophy and socio-political commentary, this track from “Watch The Throne,” broke boundaries. Kanye and Jay-Z’s impeccable lyrical synergy, coupled with Frank Ocean’s soulful hook, creates an audacious soundscape, earning it the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Performance in 2013. The track’s gritty, anarchist-inspired visuals further solidify its place in Kanye’s Grammy-winning repertoire. Beyond the award, this single is a landmark of progressive, thought-provoking rap that examines the human condition in the wilds of society. It’s Kanye at his creative peak, unabashed, and provocative, shaking the very pillars of mainstream hip hop.
12. Ni**as in Paris
2013 – Best Rap Performance Grammy Award
2013 – Best Rap Song Grammy Award
Nothing less than a hedonistic symphony that marries braggadocio rap with electronic ecstasy. Jay and Ye, kings in their own right, navigate through the glamorous boulevards of Paris with a lyrical prowess that speaks to black excellence, wealth, and the tumultuous journey to attain it. The track is a vibrant mosaic of luxury and struggle, becoming an anthem that pulsates from the lavish clubs in Paris to the gritty streets of Brooklyn. It’s an audacious celebration and a reminder, examining the dichotomous relationship between success and black identity within spaces historically characterized by exclusion. With that infectious, chest-thumping beat, and the notorious “Ball so hard” rallying cry, this track didn’t just illuminate the opulence of their triumphs but also echoed the sentiments of conquering spaces and narratives. The potent duo delivered a piece where cultural, social, and economic dialogues collided with a euphoric, rebellious celebration of triumph.
2012 – Best Rap Performance Grammy Award
“Otis” is one of those Kanye West tracks that hits you with a sonic tsunami. Crafted from a soulful sample of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”, Kanye enlists his brother-in-arms, Jay-Z, for this auditory delight and they go bar for bar on this one, truly a face-off between rap titans. The track’s got a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 2012 and, rightly so. Ye’s production chops shine bright, turning the vintage charm of Redding’s original into a hip hop head-banger. It captures the essence of the ‘Watch the Throne’ project, a meeting of the minds, pushing the genre forward while paying homage to the roots. Pure genius.
10. All Of The Lights
2012 – Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy Award
2012 – Best Rap Song Grammy Award
This joint, off Yeezy’s masterstroke “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” goes beyond a hit – it’s an experience. Produced by Kanye and his Chi-town compadre Jeff Bhasker, it’s a star-studded opus featuring the likes of Rihanna, Kid Cudi, and Elton John. The record expands the boundaries of hip hop, blending elements from orchestral music, progressive rock and R&B. The song’s lyrical themes explore tough realities of fame and personal life, emblematic of Kanye’s genius in brewing drama out of the mundane. A Grammy win for ‘Best Rap Song’ couldn’t have been more deserved – a testament to Kanye’s masterful craftsmanship and eclectic vision.
9. Run This Town
2010 – Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy Award
Teaming up with Hova (Jay-Z) and Riri (Rihanna) was a clear flex of Ye’s network. And boy, did they deliver! The track won ‘Best Rap Song’ and ‘Best Rap/Sung Collaboration’ at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. Ye’s verse showcases his lyrical prowess, with bars so sharp they could cut diamond. But it’s also the palpable energy of the track, underscored by Rihanna’s electrifying hook and Hova’s masterclass in flow that set this single apart. “Run This Town” doesn’t just run the town, it runs the whole damn game. A paradigm of what collaborative hip-hop should be, it’s a testament to Kanye’s genius as a producer and rapper.
8. Swagga Like Us
2009 – Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy Award
A track deep-rooted in braggadocio, Kanye steps up alongside titans like Jay-Z, T.I., and Lil Wayne. The head-bopping beats and the incongruity of M.I.A.’s sampled vocals create a fusion that’s nothing short of aural candy. Despite its Grammy win for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and the heavy-hitting lineup, it’s not everyone’s cup of Henny. Some argue its lyrics lean too heavily towards boastfulness rather than substance—a common critique in mainstream hip hop. Yet, it’s the sheer audacity and confident swagger of this track that makes it memorable. Through sheer force of personality, “Swagga Like Us” claimed its place in hip hop’s pantheon, proving more swag can indeed create magic.
7. American Boy
2009 – Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy Award
The 2008 hit, featuring British soul singer Estelle, bagged the Grammy award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Kanye’s verse wasn’t just a guest spot; it was instrumental in helping the song to blend the edges of hip-hop, R&B, and pop, showcasing his uncanny knack for genre fusion. The beat is a funky, disco-inspired groove that you can’t help but move to. Despite its mainstream appeal, the lyrics are conscious and introspective, offering a guided tour of an American fantasy through the foreign eyes. However, Ye’s audaciousness in exporting an English songstress to the U.S. charts should not be overlooked. “American Boy” remains a testament to his far-reaching genius.
6. Good Life
2008 – Best Rap Song Grammy Award
“Good Life,” a quintessential Kanye West track off his third album “Graduation,” scooped up a Grammy for Best Rap Song in 2008. Teaming up with T-Pain, Yeezy globalized the Chi-Town vibe, delivering a radiant, synth-infused anthem about success and the high life that resonates from South Side to Silicon Valley. The catchy, auto-tuned chorus and Kanyes defiant rhymes showcase his idiosyncratic style that’s equally rooted in his street sagacity and pop sensibility. Still, the song furthers the debate around Kanye’s contribution to the overuse of auto-tune in hip-hop, but there’s no denying that “Good Life” defined an era and cemented West’s status as a game-changer. A staple in his discography, this Grammy-winning single reminds us of the magic Yeezy can create in the studio.
2008 – Best Rap Solo Performance Grammy Award
Inspired by the thunderous beats of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” this joint from Kanye’s 2007 album “Graduation,” packs a heavy punch. Pop this in your stereo and you gon’ feel invincible. The Grammy fam recognized its power too, awarding it Best Rap Solo Performance in 2008. But don’t get it twisted, Ye ain’t just about pumping iron, the track’s message of resilience and personal growth resonates deep. It’s this kind of raw energy balanced with depth that makes “Stronger” a standout in Ye’s storied catalog. A true testament to Kanye’s genius in blending the lines between hip hop and electronica. No cap.
2008 – Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Grammy Award
A fire collab with Common off his ‘Finding Forever’ album, went on to snag a Grammy in 2008 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. On this track, ‘Ye rides shotgun, dropping his trademark flavor on the production and lyricism. His verse is a love letter to the Windy City, unapologetically celebrating its gritty beauty. But it’s his work on the beat that really shines – the soulful samples, crisp drums, and echoing horns create a backdrop that’s pure Chicago. While it’s not a classic Kanye single in terms of popularity, its Grammy win shows just how deep his catalogue runs. As a testament to the Chi city, and to hip hop itself, “Southside” is truly a jewel in Kanye’s crown.
3. Gold Digger
2006 – Best Rap Solo Performance Grammy Award
“Gold Digger” is a straight-up beast, and ain’t no debate ’bout that. Kanye’s classy sampling of Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” is an art in itself, and with Jamie Foxx on the hook, it’s a certified classic. This track got Ye his Record of the Year Grammy in ’06, a testament to the genius that this joint really is. It’s a critique of the money-hungry, diving deep into the back pockets of America’s lust for wealth. This one opened the door wider for discussions on how we view money, power, and relationships in the hip hop sphere, setting the stage for other artists to follow suit. “Gold Digger” put bold social commentary back on the table, reminding us that hip hop can be both a mirror and a hammer.
2. You Don’t Know My Name
2005 – Best R&B Song Grammy Award
Kanye West won this one as the songwriter, but didn’t directly contribute to Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name”, so this track can be viewed as an outlier on his celebrated Grammy list. Yet, it exemplifies ‘Ye’s knack for soulful hip hop beats that helped him gain a foothold in the industry. As this track’s co-producer, Kanye took stylistic risks, such as a two-minute long conclusion that scripted Alicia in a phone call. The song tells a deep story of unrequited love and yearning, it’s a narrative that hits home, earning it the Grammy for Best R&B Song in 2005. Even without him taking center stage, we found that Kanye West element of captivating soulfulness reverberating through the record.
1. Jesus Walks
2005 – Best Rap Song Grammy Award
“Jesus Walks,” a standout single from Kanye’s seminal debut, ‘The College Dropout,’ is a powerful commentary on faith in the face of adversity. Snagging Kanye his first Grammy, it shattered hip hop’s atheistic stereotypes, with its gospel-style chants and fearless exploration of spirituality. The track didn’t just win a Grammy, it challenged the status quo and proved hip hop could tackle pious topics with relevance and finesse. But it ain’t perfect – Ye’s overt religious bravado felt preachy at times, overshadowing his poetic prowess. Nonetheless, “Jesus Walks” remains a cornerstone in Ye’s legacy, a testament to his willingness to eclipse boundaries, redefine genre narratives, and walk a path fierce and untraveled.
Remaining Kanye Grammy Awards include:
- 2005 – Best Rap Album for The College Dropout
- 2006 – Best Rap Album for Late Registration
- 2008 – Best Rap Album for Graduation
- 2012 – Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- 2021 – Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Jesus Is King
It’s been quite a feat, knowing Kanye, there’ll be more soon.