Five years ago, Kanye West dropped what many consider to be the greatest album of his career, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With its expansive production, built-in redemption story, and memorable flows, it was nearly guaranteed to be a critical success, but that wasn’t enough for West. Like any artist, he also wanted the largest audience possible for his maximalist masterpiece so, in the months preceding its debut, he launched one of the most unique and drawn-out promo campaigns in music history. He named it G.O.O.D. Fridays after his music label G.O.O.D. Music.
Every week beginning on August 20, 2010 with a remix of his song “Power” featuring Jay Z and culminating on December 17, 2010 with the seasonally appropriate number “Christmas In Harlem,” West dropped a totally new song or a remix that in most cases wouldn’t be included on his upcoming record completely free for anyone to download off of his website. To this day, most of the tracks have yet to see any kind of commercial release and are just sort of floating out there on YouTube and on a variety of different mixtape hosting websites. That being said, you can probably expect them to show up 15 years from now on the deluxe, bonus reissue package of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or whenever it is that West decides to go with for his inevitable late-career cash grab. Until then, however, this assembly here will remain your best bet.
The official version of “Power” found on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a tight, but bombastic force of nature that exhibits an unhinged West attacking a number of oversized targets from larger society, Saturday Night Live, even his own ego. This remix is far more open, beginning with a fiery Jay Z quoting Muhammad Ali and ending with a repeating sample of the Snap single “I Got The Power.” It’s much looser, and far more fun than the canonical take.
One of the few G.O.O.D. Friday tracks to make it onto My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the most remarkable moment of “Monster” comes in the latter half of the song with an out-of-this-world verse from Nicki Minaj. She absolutely murders every one else featured on the song—especially Jay Z who showed up rapping about zombies without a conscience, ugh—and went from the “bad bitch from Sri Lanka” to an overnight sensation.
Starting out with the iconic opening refrain from “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit,” “Runaway Love” is led off with a heady verse from the Wu’s own Raekwon before ceding the spotlight back to a decidedly youthful sounding Justin Bieber on the hook. It’s was an interesting choice by West to re-work a song from a then-child star by pairing him with one of the fathers of Mafioso rap, but it works. As a product of the time, it’s also an intriguing example of the way music’s past, present, and future can all play off of one another.
A premature look at one of the standout tracks on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this under-three minute version of “Devil In A New Dress” features just West’s own vocal contributions without the addition of Mike Dean’s incredibly sultry, elongated guitar solo or Rick Ross’ outro verse. Some may prefer this pared-back version, but without either of those two aforementioned elements, many would argue that the emotional core of the song is hollowed out.
Based around the melody to Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend,” this song is an all-hands-on-deck affair where West enlists the help of important figures from his past (Common and his cousin Charlie Wilson), his present (Pusha T and Kid Cudi), and his future (Big Sean) to create one of the more upbeat and feel-good sounding songs in his entire catalog of music. The beginnings of what would eventually become the Cruel Summer compilation in 2012 can be very nearly traced right back to this song.
One of the rare tracks from this series where, despite the incredible star power of Mos Def, Raekwon, and Swizz Beatz, it just doesn’t seem to work. You can’t argue against the dark, luscious tone created by the sample of Brian Bennett’s “Solstice,” which was also used by Nas on “Find Ya Wealth” in 2000, but for the most part, the verses don’t live up to the music. Lines like “You a piece of steak I’d rather be that than some bacon” are just plain corny and nonsensical. Sorry, Raekwon.
The version of “So Appalled” put out in the lead up to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is almost entirely the same as the one that appears on that record minus a few mastering tweaks. This song is notable not only for its repeated outcry against systemic institutional issues but also for including one of the worst features ever to appear on a Kanye West song. Way to go Chyi The Prynce; you are indeed so outrageous.
Maybe the best track to come out of the G.O.O.D. Friday series that didn’t make it onto My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “Christian Dior Denim Flow” finds every single person featured on it bringing their absolute A-game. John Legend’s lofty delivery on the hook and Pusha T’s rap about his iconic appearance at the MTV VMA’s that year with West in his salmon colored suit are impressive standouts, but it’s Lloyd Banks who steals the show. His verse is decadent, cohesive, and singularly observant in a way that few could have hoped to match. “I been locked in my way of thinking, now my cuffs are gone / Must’ve been the liquor talking, I’m begging the cups, c’mon / Might come off as irregular, I come in custom form / T-G-I-F, GT breeze, my hustler’s poem.”
By 2010, West had been working with Lupe Fiasco going all the way back to his Late Registration days five years earlier and had been sharing studios with Pharrell since he was a no-name in-house producer working behind the scenes for Jay Z at Roc-A-Fella Records. That the three men would have a combined chemistry as the one-off group Child Rebel Soldier for “Don’t Stop” should go without saying.
“Take One For The Team” is downright nasty. From the spit-spraying beat box off the top to Pusha T trying to hold it together in his $1,000 jeans to West straight admitting that he’s not a nice guy, there’s nothing unsubtle about this song. It’s in your face and unapologetic in every sense. It’s also got a gigantic bass response that will get the windows on your car rattling at even half volume.
Kanye West is apparently a huge fan of the mythological Phoenix. It’s easy to see why, in the immediate aftermath of his public excoriation for the Taylor Swift incident at the VMAs, that the story of the fabled creature that dies in a blaze of fire and glory only to be reborn would appeal to him. He uses it as a major plot device in his iconic half-hour plus music video to the song “Runaway” and again as the driving allegory behind this track. It’s Mos Def however who drives the entire thing home with his opening hook. “Don’t look down, it’s an impossible view / Fly like an eagle, whatever you do / Don’t look down, it’s an impossible view / Spread your wings, aerial.”
This is Kanye West, or perhaps rather, this is mega-producer Pete Rock at his soul-sampling best. Borrowing heavily from the 1970 Curtis Mayfield classic song “The Makings Of You” the overall retro feel is enhanced by both West and his “big brother” Jay Z trading verses about the way it all used to be. “The Joy” was eventually included as a bonus track to the duo’s collaborative record Watch The Throne in 2011.
As much as Kanye West was working on a different plane 2010, Pusha T might quietly have been the greatest rapper on the planet. Nearly every single time West teed him up with a new beat to flow over, the former Clipse rapper absolutely obliterated it. “Runaway” is his most notable verse from this time and his work on “Christian Dior Denim Flow” is nearly unparalleled, but you can’t sleep on what he does here. The first line is one of his best—“All I see is black roses, drug dealer poses /Shoveling that devil’s angel up they noses”—and it just keeps rolling on from there. “Looking For Trouble” was later added as a final bonus track to J. Cole’s third mixtape Friday Night Lights.
Produced by the legendary A Tribe Called Quest leader Q-Tip, “Chain Heavy” was planned as the final G.O.O.D. Friday release even though West first debuted the track at a meeting he was invited to attend at Facebook headquarters four months earlier. The completed version present here is an eerie, theremin-inflected dose of conscious rap excellence. West’s verse is a powerful takedown against the underlying racist issues in place in America, as is Talib Kweli’s who raps, “My chain heavy, stop in that traffic, coppers harass us / Then DA attack us, want us in chains like B.A. Baracus.”
The album was out, the campaign was supposed to be over, but then Santa West decided to gift the world with one extra present. “Christmas In Harlem” is the farthest the rapper delved into outright saccharine balladry until the release of “Only One” four years later. After all of the braggadocio, all of the attacks, the lashing out, the over-the-top declarations, for his final act of the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy era, West invites everyone to gather round and share a glass of “dee-ricious” hot chocolate. Ain’t it sweet?