In most years, a 10-week run at #1 would make a song the biggest hit of the year… Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” happened to do it the same year that Mariah Carey spent 14 weeks at #1 with “We Belong Together” (which happened to be the song West knocked out of the top spot).
The song wasn’t written for, or inspired by, Ray – even though Jamie Foxx was featured on the song (but only in the intro, doing his impersonation of Ray Charles) and it sampled Charles’ “I Got A Woman”. West had originally written it from a woman’s perspective for Shawnna’s 2004 debut album, but she passed on it. He liked the song too much to let it go, so it was reworked as a warning song to successful guys…
West started out as a DJ and record producer, not a rapper. He started doing studio work in the mid-‘90s, but didn’t get his first album out until 2004. That album, The College Dropout, features one of the more inspiring rap songs you’ll ever hear, “Through The Wire”, as West raps about his recovery from a near-fatal 2002 auto accident.
In addition to being a singer/rapper, producer, and actor, West is a meme generator of the highest caliber. The top two, of course, being “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” (2005 Hurricane Katrina live fundraiser) and, of course, his epic interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs. “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” is the moment that now defines West in the public eye.
Given that West has always craved awards, and has more than once interrupted awards shows that weren’t going his way, I guess it’s a fitting image.
Tomorrow, a band whose second lineup had the big hit…
Other songs that went to #1 on September 17:
1955 – “Ain’t That A Shame” by Pat Boone (his first, 2 weeks, Juke Box chart)
2011 – “Someone Like You” by Adele (her second, 5 weeks)