Song of the Day #915: ‘Runaway’ – Kanye West

Best Songs of 2010 – #4

This is probably the most talked about and praised song on the most talked about and praised album of 2010. And it’s a testament to what Kanye West has done here that he’s able to transcend that tremendous hype.

I do consider My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy overrated, but that’s because it couldn’t possibly have been rated higher than it was. I don’t believe I’ve seen a top ten list yet that didn’t have this album perched at number one.

But even though it’s overrated, it remains a powerful work of art, a reflection of the wild imagination, raw emotion and tremendous ego of the man responsible for every wonderful bloated second. I believe this album was so celebrated because it tries so damn hard to be huge and special in so many different ways. It is bursting at the seams with creative ambition, and lord knows we can use more of that in the modern musical landscape.

‘Runaway’ is the emotional centerpiece of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and a nice encapsulation of the sort of excess that works so well on the album.

It opens with a single piano note that repeats too many times before the rest of the melody kicks in. But then the rhythm track kicks in and the wait is suddenly worth it… you need the tense anticipation of those endless early notes for the release of the big drums to work as well as they do.

Then comes Kanye’s version of a romantic mea culpa, wherein he confesses to having a thing for “hoodrats” despite having a good girl back home and reveals that his infidelity was exposed because he’d been pulling a Brett Favre with his cellphone.

Time for the chorus. Let’s have a toast for the douchebags, let’s have a toast for the assholes. He’s toasting himself, unapologetic but sorry as hell. And baby he has a plan… run away as fast as you can.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a compelling combination of self-loathing and self-aggrandizing, and in that sense this song perfectly captures the central contradiction that makes Kanye so fascinating.

And most compelling of all is the final few minutes, when a percussive string section takes over and Kanye sings the song again through a vocoder turned up to 11. What sounds at first like guitar feedback is really the distorted wails of Kanye blurred into a language that not even he can understand. It’s the sound of confidence drowned out by uncertainty, and one of the most mournful moments I’ve heard on a record.

Or maybe it’s just Kanye dicking around with Auto-Tune and the rest of us gullible fools trying to read something profound into it. Which would be its own sort of beautiful, twisted genius. At any rate, it was definitely one of the highlights of my musical year.

(Kanye West)

And I always find, yeah, I always find somethin’ wrong
You been puttin’ up wit’ my shit just way too long
I’m so gifted at findin’ what I don’t like the most
So I think it’s time for us to have a toast

Let’s have a toast for the douchebags!
Let’s have a toast for the assholes!
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Run away fast as you can

She find pictures in my email
I sent this bitch a picture of my dick
I don’t know what it is with females
But I’m not too good at that shit
See, I could have me a good girl
And still be addicted to them hoodrats
And I just blame everything on you
At least you know that’s what I’m good at

And I always find
Yeah, I always find
Yeah, I always find somethin’ wrong
You been puttin’ up wit’ my shit just way too long
I’m so gifted at findin’ what I don’t like the most
So I think it’s time for us to have a toast

Let’s have a toast for the douchebags!
Let’s have a toast for the assholes!
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Run away fast as you can

Run away from me, baby
Run away
Run away from me, baby
Run away
Never thought it would get crazy
Just run away
Baby, I got a plan
Run away as fast as you can

Run away from me, baby
Run away
Run away from me, baby
Never thought it would get crazy
Why can’t she just run away?
Baby, I got a plan
Run away as fast as you can

(Pusha T)

24/7, 365, pussy stays on my mind
I-I-I-I did it, all right, all right, I admit it
Now pick your next move, you could leave or live wit’ it
Ichabod Crane with that motherfuckin’ top off
Split and go where? Back to wearin’ knockoffs, ha?
Knock it off, Neiman’s, shop it off
Let’s talk over mai tais, waitress, top it off
Hoes like vultures, they wanna fly in your Freddy loafers
You can’t blame ‘em, they ain’t never seen Versace sofas
Every bag, every blouse, every bracelet
Comes wit’ a price tag, baby, face it
You should leave if you can’t accept the basics
Plenty hoes in the baller-nigga matrix
Invisibly set, the Rolex is faceless
I’m just young, rich, and tasteless
P!

(Kanye)

Never was much of a romantic
I could never take the intimacy
And I know it did damage
‘Cause the look in your eyes is killin’ me
I’m guessin’ you’re at an advantage
‘Cause you could blame me for everything
And I don’t know how I’ma manage
If one day you just up and leave

And I always find
Yeah, I always find somethin’ wrong
You been puttin’ up with my shit just way too long
I’m so gifted at findin’ what I don’t like the most
So I think it’s time for us to have a toast

Let’s have a toast for the douchebags!
Let’s have a toast for the assholes!
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Run away fast as you can

One thought on “Song of the Day #915: ‘Runaway’ – Kanye West

  1. Dana says:

    I know I’m supposed to really dig Kanye. Critics tell me I should. You tell me I should. But, for whatever reason, I just don’t really get into him.

    I find this song to be self indulgent, but not really all that artful or original. And while the lyrics seem self-effacing on the one hand, I suspect Kanye doesn’t really understand what a douche bag he really is and probably never will.

    Given the choice of supporting him as an artist or not, I’m quite happy not.

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