Kanye West‘s Yeezus received stellar reviews from critics, but fans seem to be split about the abrasive, anti-pop album. But we’re here to convert the haters! Yes, the sticky hooks have been replaced with confrontational lyrics and jarring rhythmic shifts. But the chipmunk soul samples are still present — although to be fair, they take a backseat to doombahton chants and ominous electro. But you disgruntled Kanye fans shouldn’t abandon his latest effort just yet, because this iteration of Ye was long in the making. Like any evolution, it was slow and gradual, but the seeds of Yeezus can be heard throughout West’s catalog, going all the way back to 2004′s The College Dropout.
So if you think Yeezus doesn’t showcase the same Yeezy you’ve known and loved for all these years, we’re here to convince you otherwise with a list of 13 old Yeezy songs that foreshadowed Yeezus. Head below for the list, and then if you’re still unconvinced, you can always just jam out to “Bound 2,” the album’s throwback to West’s backpack days. Or just focus on the Justin Vernon parts and pretend you’re listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.—Carl Williott
1. “Jesus Walks” (2004)
Kanye’s deft ability to bring bold religious imagery into the pop world was apparent right from the start. And while this was one of the biggest songs off his debut, it’s also one of the gloomiest. Not to mention there were vocals so heavily Auto-Tuned they sounded like snake-charming music. This track is the blueprint to just about everything Kanye did afterwards.
2. “Get Em High” (2004)
A quietly ominous beat with stretches of near-silence. There weren’t any dancehall elements or rhythmic swerves yet, but West would later add that complexity to this simple foundation.
3. “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” (2005)
Here’s an expert example of Kanye’s ambivalence, swinging between brash materialism and virulent verbal attacks against that very culture. Also, this was his first truly adrenaline-pumping song.
See the full list at Idolator.