However ambitious, from the beginning, there was always something ridiculous, silly, and deeply unnecessary about Kanye West committing himself to produce five entire albums—two of which were his own—all to be released within the span of five consecutive Fridays, especially considering, for years, all fans really ever asked for was a modest-length follow up to G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer compilation, preferably titled Cruel Winter.
And yet, here we are, 36 songs later, exhausted from the mental and emotional bandwidth it took to press through five condensed rollouts from an artist and producer the social media sphere had considered “canceled.”
Like most things ridiculous, silly, and deeply unnecessary, West’s five-week experiment also inspired a feverish sense of drama, intrigue, and excitement. Journalists were forced to examine their principles and recalibrate their morals upon receiving invites to listening parties that seemed more like rallies on a campaign trail, as folks were asked to forget the MAGA pandering that preceded the music. Elsewhere, fans were forced to sit through unprecedented delays, waiting to hear albums they weren’t quite sure they’d even enjoy.
With allegations of domestic abuse, race-baiting commentary, and rap beef all intertwined, one would assume the conclusion of this saga would be enough to satiate any rap critic’s fetish for pain and suffering. In that case, one would be terribly wrong.
Not to be outdone by the masterful Kanye West, we’ve decided to commit to an undertaking equally as ridiculous, silly, and deeply unnecessary.
Here’s every song from Kanye West's five-week run of Wyoming Sessions releases, ranked. (And for those who would prefer this entire list in the form of a Spotify playlist, click here.)
36. "Not For Radio" — Nas ft. Puff Daddy, NASIR
The most unfortunate result of internet culture is how quickly we exhausted our NyQuil jokes on J. Cole, not knowing Nas’ 11th solo studio album would put all competing sleep aids to shame. Forcing listeners to fact-check questionable lyrics delivered over a boring beat with a maddeningly one-dimensional flow, “Not For Radio” sounds as if Nas decided to harness all of his worst habits as an artist to purposefully open what is arguably the worst album of his career (see also: Nastradamus) with an all-around dud.
35. "Violent Crimes" — Kanye West, ye
In efforts to gaslight his own daughter, claiming he hopes she never develops the sort of figure her mother—his wife—built an empire on, Kanye West closed out ye with some truly disconcerting thoughts on fatherhood. “Violent Crimes” is weird, patriarchal beyond his own position as a parent, and reeks of slut-shaming and an uncomfortable policing of women’s bodies and sexuality—all unsurprising, as the song’s lyrics featured contributions from Nicki Minaj, who recently aimed some harmful politics at sexually active women and sex workers. Certain lyrics on this song are so disturbing, they barely leave any time to examine how trite the idea is that men have to have daughters in order to exhibit any type of empathy for women.
34. "everything" — Nas ft. The-Dream, NASIR
There’s no reason for this song to be over seven minutes long, nor is there a reason for Kanye to be singing on the same chorus as The-Dream—and there’s certainly no reason for us to have to suffer through Nas’ ill-informed anti-vax bars. Everything about “everything” is wholly unwarranted.
33. "No Manners" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
With quality production and sultry vocals, “No Manners” is a solid if forgettable start to K.T.S.E. At just one minute and 36 seconds long, the track also ends before the listener has time to realize "I got a man, but I ain’t got no manners" isn’t a very good lyric.
32. "3Way" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
While the vocal performances from Teyana Taylor and Ty Dolla $ign on “3Way” are superb, the songwriting is amateurish and exposes one of Taylor’s few flaws as an artist—her inability to consistently generate compelling content. “3Way” is as empty as it is sensual, leaving the song completely unsexy.
31. "Simple Things" — Nas, NASIR
The final track on NASIR is as uneventful as the rest of the album, saved only by a commendable acknowledgment of the “Nas picks wack beats” narrative that’s plagued the latter years of his career. An acknowledgment of his alleged abuse and battery of his ex-wife Kelis is what we would have preferred, though.
30. "Bonjour" — Nas, NASIR
As though he made a conscious decision to spite anyone who questioned his ear for beats, Nas managed to also sound lazy and outdated over one of the better productions on the album. Alongside vocals from the always magnificent Tony Williams, the lush sounds incorporated throughout “Bonjour” would have been put to better use by rappers like Rick Ross or Curren$y. Nas clearly didn’t know what to do here.
29. "I Thought About Killing You" — Kanye West, ye
Jarring, but not without reason, “I Thought About Killing You” paints a portrait of Kanye West the artist who has been struggling to find the right hues throughout the past few years. That portrait being the image of a depressive deeply wounded by the world around him, shielded only by the boundlessness of his own ego and his sometimes wavering will to live. Like most of the other songs on ye, the album’s intro isn’t perfect—it doesn’t even sound like a finished song—but despite that fact, it does sound like a complete thought, which is rare at this stage of West’s career.
28. "Rose In Harlem" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
A grating sample doesn’t help the fact that “Rose In Harlem” features one of Teyana Taylor’s least moving vocal performances on K.T.S.E. However, like Nas’ “Simple Things,” the singer’s attempt to contextualize her career in response to criticism is endearing and effective.
27. "All Mine" — Kanye West, ye
“All Mine” is charming, quirky, and a refreshing deviation from the self-importance expressed on the rest of ye, but not without the cringe-worthy bars we’ve come to expect from West in recent years (“Let me hit it raw like fuck the outcome / Ayy none of us would be here without cum”). Ultimately, the song sounds like a leftover from the Pablo sessions.
26. "White Label" — Nas, NASIR
Over one of the better beats on the project, “White Label” features some of the most competent rapping NASIR has to offer. Throughout the track, Nas is the best version of himself—grimy, witty, and without the urge to lecture the listener, if only temporarily. While doing press for his own album, G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha-T suggested Kanye West was able to capture the essence of Nas’ greatest moments, and inspire the rapper to recreate that energy on NASIR—certain bars on “White Label” are delivered with the same blistering irreverence as “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffin’ Jesus.”
25. "Fire" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Affirming just how potent Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s synergy is on KIDS SEE GHOSTS, the least memorable song on the album still manages to be just enjoyable enough for listeners to let it pass without skipping to the next song. “Fire” proves just how high the floor is for these two artists as friends and collaborators.
24. "Never Would Have Made It" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
By far the most joyous and triumphant sounding song on the album, “Never Would Have Made It” seems like it’d be a natural and appropriate way end to K.T.S.E., which it probably was at one point, given the fact that it’s listed as track number seven and all four previous Wyoming releases ended at that mark. If “WTP” isn’t exactly your speed, “Never Would Have Made It” is a fine place to stop (although you’d certainly be missing out).
23. "Yikes" — Kanye West, ye
With Drake credited as a writer on “Yikes”, the irony in this song being one of the catchiest in Kanye's entire five-album run is obvious. Within the saga of “Infrared,” “Duppy Freestyle,” and “The Story of Adidon,” “Yikes” should be recognized as a footnote, reminding us how unfortunate this feud really is.
22. "Wouldn’t Leave" — Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR, ye
From suggesting black folks in this country chose to be enslaved to openly supporting a white supremacist president, Kanye presented his wife with plenty of troubling behaviors to be concerned with throughout the rollout of these five albums—and an immediate fear of “losing it all” is exactly how one would expect Kim Kardashian West to respond to those concerns. “Wouldn’t Leave” is insultingly tone-deaf, but ultimately unsurprising, so we can’t be too mad at it. Plus, the trifecta of Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, and PARTYNEXTDOOR sounding heavenly didn't hurt.
21. "Kids See Ghosts" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS ft. Yasiin Bey, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
The title track off Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s joint effort is entrancing. While there are better verses elsewhere on the album, Yasiin Bey performs well on the hook, and vocally matches the tone of the hypnotic production with perfection.
20. "4th Dimension" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS ft. Louis Prima, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
For Cudi fans, part of this album’s appeal was the idea that a return to a more accessible, mainstream sound from the rapper we’ve missed for years. Once listeners push through a meandering verse from Kanye, “4th Dimension” gifts us a vibe reminiscent of A Kid Named Cudi. As far as his raps are concerned, flowing with his classic bounce and half-sung delivery, Cudi sounds supremely confident and rejuvenated on this track.
19. "What Would Meek Do?" — Pusha-T ft. Kanye West, DAYTONA
The timing of this song is special. As DAYTONA hit streaming services about a month after Meek Mill was released from prison, the Philadelphia rapper was top of mind in the culture. Like pretty much every other song on the album, the production is commanding—so much so, it even makes “poop, scoop, whoop, whoopty whoop” sound kind of good. So, of course, Pusha-T’s drug talk and wordplay sound incredible.
18. "Cops Shot the Kid" — Nas ft. Kanye West, NASIR
“Cops Shot the Kid” is one of the highlights of an otherwise regrettable outing by Nas and Kanye West. The beat on this song is so great, it distracts from how unoriginal and uninspired both rappers sound during their verses, despite the fact they both consider themselves revolutionaries in their own right. On a song about police brutality, neither rapper spit a single bar worthy of conversation or further examination. “Cops Shot the Kid” is excellent production and absolutely nothing else.
17. "Adam and Eve" — Nas ft. The-Dream, NASIR
Powered by production that straddles the line between grit and luxury, NASIR's penultimate track finds Nas swiftly maneuvering through some of life's finer points while praying his sins don't get passed down to his children.
16. "Infrared" — Pusha-T, DAYTONA
“Infrared” presents a complicated set of circumstances for critical music fans. While it received the most attention due to its jabs at Drake, Lil Wayne, and Birdman, it’s technically one of the least captivating songs on the album, which speaks to just how well done DAYTONA truly is. While the lyrics are scathing without ever reaching out of pocket, the track itself is a bit too subdued, and feels like an anticlimactic way to end such an intensely performed record. An average-sounding Pusha-T is still more impressive than most rappers on their best day, and it’s completely unfair.
15. "Issues / Hold On" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
By the third song on K.T.S.E., “the old Kanye” is officially in his bag as a producer, and listeners quickly realize Teyana Taylor’s sophomore album might be the MAGA-produced R&B record we never knew we needed. As far as soul samples go, West hasn’t clicked this well with an artist since Common’s Be.
14. "Hard Piano" — Pusha-T ft. Rick Ross, DAYTONA
Any self-respecting rap fan should feel excitement upon seeing Rick Ross’ name attached to a song entitled “Hard Piano.” That combination should be enough. But Pusha T is so relentlessly skilled as a rapper, Ross’ verse is almost an afterthought on a song otherwise tailor-made for his vocals.
13. "Gonna Love Me" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
“Gonna Love Me” is a soothing reprieve from the anxiety of stanning a label run by a Trump supporter. It’s truly confounding how so much soul could be conjured from the sunken place—which either speaks to Kanye’s instincts as a producer or Teyana’s influence as a vocalist. Whether it be the former, the latter, or a mixture of both, this shit is immaculate.
12. "Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS ft. Ty Dolla $ign, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Following up “Ghost Town,” a standout on ye, “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” captures the same anthemic energy as its predecessor, but this time with Ty Dolla $ign instead of 070 Shake. With a slightly more aggressive take on liberating one’s self from the pains of the world (“You should quit your job to this”), this version also relies on religious rhetoric to illustrate salvation. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s unclear whether we would have gotten something this good without Kanye’s otherwise misguided notion of “free thinking.”
11. "Santeria" — Pusha-T, DAYTONA
Featuring one of 070 Shake’s two most notable guest appearances, “Santeria” is a dramatic and eerie soundscape wherein Pusha-T grapples with the death of one of his comrades, and delivers threats of retaliation with a chilling sense of seriousness and conviction. The song is frighteningly good.
10. "Hurry" — Teyana Taylor ft. Kanye West, K.T.S.E.
With an infectiously groovy baseline and raps about sunkissed Trinidadians, the island vibes on “Hurry” are pleasant, playful, and delightfully fresh. Taylor’s singing is sublime, and, for once, Kanye’s humor actually fits the mood.
9. "Feel the Love" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS ft. Pusha-T, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
“Feel the Love” is one of the most intense songs on the list. With Pusha-T’s verse as the centerpiece, this song could have easily wound up on DAYTONA as opposed to KIDS SEE GHOSTS. Both Kanye and Cudi showed an admirable amount of restraint on the opening track of their joint album, allowing Push to shine, while playing to the uniqueness of their respective voices. Cudi on hook duty and Ye losing his shit rarely ever sounds bad (no matter what you think, Yeezus was great).
8. "WTP" — Teyana Taylor, K.T.S.E.
Featuring Mikki Blanco as the track’s master of ceremonies, as well an infectious sample of “Work This Pussy” by Go Bitch Go!, “WTP” is a finely executed ode to Harlem ballroom. Paying homage to a subculture created by queer folks of color in the '70s, the final track on K.T.S.E. reminds listeners how integral that sound and that scene is to Teyana Taylor’s artistry, even amongst the soul samples dispersed throughout the rest of the project. As a dance track and what’s likely to become a legitimate piece of black queer culture, the song exhibits the same passion and finesse as Taylor’s performance in Kanye’s “Fade” video in 2016. Ending with a sound bite from the 1991 ballroom documentary Paris Is Burning, “WTP” justifies its place as the only song to extend one these albums past seven tracks.
7. "The Games We Play" — Pusha-T, DAYTONA
DAYTONA keeps the stakes at a soaring high on the album’s second song, following a stellar intro. “The Games We Play” perfectly manipulates rap fans’ fascination with the spoils of drug dealing. Hyper-descriptive in his delivery, Pusha-T feeds us a narrative as addictive as the cocaine he sells in his lyrics. This song is Hov-level braggadocio. Not many rappers are capable of the same.
6. "Come Back Baby" — Pusha-T, DAYTONA
While using a photo of Whitney Houston’s bathroom for the cover art was done in poor taste, as it depicted the evidence of her demise sprawled across the counter and sink, the juxtaposition of the opening sound bite from “The Truth Shall Set You Free” alongside Pusha’s unapologetic boasts of drug dealing comes close to illustrating the point optimists assumed the rapper was trying to make with that decision. Equally manipulative of rap fans’ fascination with the life of a drug dealer, “Come Back Baby” is the sinister cousin of “The Games We Play.” Blind and deaf to the wreckage of addiction, it’s gleeful, masterful, and just as exploitative. Following that short clip, it’s unnerving how enjoyable this song is.
5. "No Mistakes" — Kanye West, ye
In an interview, Rhymefest, who recently had a public falling out with Kanye and his wife, noted what made West so special in the past was the way the rapper balanced his “humanity and vanity.” On “No Mistakes,” Ye returns to that balance and delivers what feels like the album’s most sincere stream of consciousness. From his financial woes to his complicated relationship with Drake, the song features one of the rapper’s better verses in recent memory. Charlie Wilson and Kid Cudi add a layer of beauty to a song already rich in emotion. “No Mistakes” is vintage Kanye.
4. "Ghost Town" — Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR, ye
The moment Kid Cudi’s vocals ascend over the penultimate track on ye, it was confirmed KIDS SEE GHOSTS, scheduled to drop a week later, would be phenomenal. Like “No Mistakes,” “Ghost Town” is raw emotion delivered by perhaps two of the most emotionally resonant artists of the past 15 years. As the track closes, 070 Shake delivers an even more stirring performance, declaring, “We’re still the kids we used to be.” Fans of both Kanye and Cudi are given reason, however slight, to hope that may be true.
3. "If You Know You Know" — Pusha-T, DAYTONA
As time passes, it’s quite possible “If You Know You Know” will be remembered as a classic opening track. “Ran off on the plug too like Trugoy” is the hardest rap lyric of the year, and it’s not even close. Kanye’s chaotic sample chopping adds to the already neck-breaking strength of the track. This entire intro is bulletproof.
2. "Cudi Montage" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
“Cudi Montage” is spiritual. The final track on KIDS SEE GHOSTS ends the album with a plea—”Lord, shine your light on me / Save me, please.” Even if the politics of Kanye’s verse sound insincere to you (as he’s given us every reason to believe they are), that refrain along with Cudi singing “stay strong” speaks volumes. When considering those words within the context of the lived experiences of both these men—addiction, depression, loss, humiliation—”Cudi Montage” is easily the second most moving song of this entire experiment.
1. "Reborn" — KIDS SEE GHOSTS, KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Whereas “Cudi Montage” speaks to the mental and emotional state of the artists, “Reborn” feels reflective of the mental and emotional state of a generation during these urgent times. Both artists are perfect in the way they communicate this. Kanye flexes his aggression, hurt by the accountability we’ve thrust upon him, and Cudi reassures us the world will keep spinning, catching light at the end of each night. Both men are typically at their best when they accurately tap into the spirit and anxieties of the current climate, and that’s exactly what they did here.