The Breakfast Club: On Kanye West’s Relationship With the Morning

Will Hagle examines Kanye West's history with the morning.
By    October 23, 2017

Art by Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3

Will Hagle always rises at 4:20.

The name Kanye West tends to evoke a span of knee-jerk feelings and opinions. Kanye is an undeniable genius, a narcissistic asshole, a great producer, a terrible rapper, something else, all of the above, or any combination of these things, all of which are subjective in nature. Despite what anyone thinks, though, there is only one objective truth about Kanye West: Kanye West raps a lot about waking up in the morning.

He’s been doing it since The College Dropout. On “Through The Wire,” the first Kanye song most people ever heard, Kanye breaks down his broken jaw breakfast routine: a Boost, an Ensure, and pancake syrup. He also talks about morning meals on “Jesus Walks,” calling out a police force who says they “eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.” “I’ll Fly Away” is a gospel hymn about what Christians believe will happen on the “glad morning when this life is over.”

On “Family Business,” Kanye begins his verse with “I woke up early this morning with a new state of mind” and then talks about facing “the rising sun.” On “Get ‘Em High,” Kanye gets an email from a 36-26 double d at “11:26.” He doesn’t specify A.M. or P.M., but judging by his proclivity for the morning time, we can all make a safe assumption as to what he’s talking about. Plus, he’s all into European fashion and stuff. If he meant P.M. he’d have said “23:26.”

The morning raps continue on Late Registration, which starts with a Bernie Mac impressionist telling Kanye to wake up on a song called “Wake Up Mr. West.” Actually, that’s about the only time Kanye mentions waking up in the morning on his entire sophomore album, unless you count the remix of “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” where he yells “Good morning! This ain’t Vietnam still! People lose hands, legs, arms for real!,” which doesn’t make total sense but does sound nice.

Kanye goes right into rapping about waking up in the morning again on Graduation. The opening track, “Good Morning,” begins with the lines: “Uh. Uh. Uh. Uh. Uh. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” On “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” Kanye talks about having a dream in which he could buy his way to heaven, but instead waking up and buying himself a necklace, which in its rapped form over that beat is one of the best lines Kanye ever wrote.

808s & Heartbreak is Kanye’s least morning-heavy album and, not coincidentally, his worst ever [ed. note: boo this man]. The only time he mentions waking up in the morning at all is on “Say You Will,” when he says “Now I’m awake.” Aside from Jeezy’s verse on “Amazing,” that is the only good part of the entire album.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, coincidentally Kanye’s third best album ever, is actually tied with 808s for Kanye album with the least amount of raps about waking up in the morning. The only time that subject comes up is on the opening track, when Kanye talks about getting so much head he “woke up next to Sleepy Hollow.” That is probably the worst line from the album, which was and still is pretty good.

On Yeezus’s “Hold My Liquor,” Kanye starts his verse by saying, “Bitch I’m back out my coma, waking up on your sofa.” On “I’m In It,” Kanye says he “can’t wake up from the nightlife,” which is a stretch, but still. On “Send It Up,” he says, “When I go raw, I like to leave it in. When I wake up, I like to go again.” Yeezus was not as good as people thought it was at the time. Still, it has a decent amount of references to waking up in the morning, so it’s not bad by any means.

After Yeezus, Kanye waited almost three years, his longest break ever, before releasing a new album in which he raps about waking up in the morning. During that time, one can only assume Kanye was waking up at the crack of dawn to write as many morning-centric songs as possible. The Life of Pablo, the culmination of Kanye’s artistic progression thus far, is loaded with them. 

The Life of Pablo begins with Kanye and Chance the Rapper describing “a God dream.” The dream ends by track two, when Mr. West wakes up to hear Kid Cudi singing about a “beautiful morning.” The third track starts with Kanye saying, “Up in the morning, miss you bad” before transitioning into Desiigner’s one and only hit single. Track four, “Famous,” features Swizz Beats yelling, “Wake up Mr. West! Oh, he’s up!” at a predictably inopportune time.

Kanye tells other people to “wake up” repeatedly in track five, “Feedback.” On the next song, “Low Lights,” a woman whose name I unfortunately don’t know and cannot find credited anywhere says, “I won’t always have to wake up by myself wondering how I’m going to get through the day.” After that Kanye doesn’t talk about the morning much until “30 Hours,” when he “wake(s) up, assessing the damages” and “wake(s) up, all veggies no eggs,” then hits the gym, then does all chest no legs, then makes himself a smoothie and a movie.

The following mix contains every line from Kanye’s solo discography in which he mentions waking up in the morning. Some of you might enjoy it. Many of you may hate it. No matter your opinion, there is only one objective truth: It is over four minutes long.

That is long. There doesn’t seem to be any rational explanation for it, or even any convoluted way to relate it back to his career. It is just an objective fact. Kanye West raps a lot about waking up in the morning.

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