Gold Digger (Kanye West song)

"Gold Digger" is a song recorded by American rapper Kanye West featuring guest vocals by Jamie Foxx. Released as the second single from West's second album, Late Registration (2005), "Gold Digger" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 on September 6, 2005, becoming West's and Foxx's second number one single. Co-produced with Jon Brion, the song contains samples of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman".

"Gold Digger"
Gold Digger.jpg
Single by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx
from the album Late Registration
ReleasedJuly 5, 2005 (2005-07-05)
GenreHip hop
Length3:28
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Kanye West singles chronology
"Go!"
(2005)
"Gold Digger"
(2005)
"Number One"
(2005)
Jamie Foxx singles chronology
"Slow Jamz"
(2003)
"Gold Digger"
(2005)
"Extravaganza"
(2005)
Music video
"Gold Digger" on YouTube

The single broke a record for the most digital downloads in a week, selling over 80,000,[1] and at the time was also the fastest-selling digital download of all time;[2] both records have since been broken. It was 2005's second-longest running number one on the Billboard Hot 100 behind "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey and is the joint sixth longest ever at ten weeks.[3]

At the 2006 Grammy Awards, "Gold Digger" was nominated for Record of the Year and won the award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The song lists at number 60 on Billboard magazine's All Time Top 100 and at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade.[4][5] "Gold Digger" was voted number 20 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. The single topped The 2005 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.[6] As of January 2011, the song has sold over 3,000,000 copies in the United States. In 2018, The song was ranked 63 on the Top 100 Billboard Hot 100 Songs of all time, as part of Billboard's celebration of the 60th anniversary.[7] "Gold Digger" is one of the best-selling singles in the United States.

BackgroundEdit

 
"Gold Digger" is built on a sample of "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles.

Upon its release, many surmised that West conceived "Gold Digger" after watching Jamie Foxx's Oscar-winning portrayal of Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray. However, he had actually constructed the beat of the song long before the movie was even developed.[8] In 2003, West performed a very early version of the song at the 2nd Annual Dynamic Producer Conference in New York City.[9] West originally produced and recorded "Gold Digger" in Ludacris's home in Atlanta for Shawnna's 2004 debut album Worth Tha Weight and had written the chorus from a female first-person viewpoint: "I'm not sayin' I'm a gold digger, but I ain't messin' with no broke niggas." However, for reasons unknown, Shawnna passed on using the song. Not wanting to let it go to waste, West decided to keep the beat for himself and add lyrics expressed from a male's point-of-view.[8]

The second verse of "Gold Digger" was the first to be written, as West used to rap the verse in early 2004 while on tour promoting his debut album, The College Dropout. The first verse was made later in the year while West was on Usher's Evolution Tour. Lastly, the original third verse was taken from an unreleased song called "Drop Dead Gorgeous," which West had produced and rapped on for Murphy Lee of St. Lunatics. About a year later, right before "Gold Digger" was set to be released as a single, West decided to write a different third verse and in a week the new song was recorded and mastered at Sony Music Studios in New York City.[8]

The idea of employing Jamie Foxx specifically to sing an interpolation of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" in place of its initial sample did in fact arise from West seeing Ray with his friend John Mayer.[8] Foxx's vocals were recorded over many takes; in one version he sang from start to finish, but the track was retracted as his performance didn't coincide well with the song's instrumentation. After recording another version, Foxx decided to re-record it once more as he felt it contained too many explicit lyrics.[8] Once the track was finally in place, it was layered with additional instruments provided by American film score composer Jon Brion and individually selected by West. By the end of their very first studio session together, the pair had completed the basic tracks for the final version of "Gold Digger".[10] Despite being a featured singer, Foxx's part only appears in the intro and the rest of the song uses West's vocals and samples of Charles.

Music and lyricsEdit

"Gold Digger" contains samples (as well as an interpolation during the introduction) of "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles, and a bouncy beat formed from handclaps and scratches by DJ A-Trak. Towards the end, the song employs vintage 1970s synthesizers which emit a honking sound in cadence to Kanye's voice.[11] West delivers a tongue-in-cheek lyrical narrative within "Gold Digger" in which he critically depicts the disastrous life of a man married to a woman who manipulates him for financial gain. However, another story arises within the third verse, which illustrates a once destitute black male who earns a fortune and decides to leave a loyal, unselfish girlfriend for a white girl and ends up driving a Hyundai.[12]

In 2013 it was reported that Trena Steward and Lorenzo Pryor, two children of the late musician David Pryor had filed a lawsuit against West for allegedly sampling "get down girl, go 'head, get down" from their father's 1974 obscure single "Bumpin' Bus Stop".[13]

AccoladesEdit

It was ranked third on NME's list of the best songs of 2005.[14] In MAX music TV's top 1000 songs of all time, 'Gold Digger' was number 462 on the list.[15] The song was listed as the most important rap song of 2005 in The Rap Year Book.[16] On VH1's "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs Ever" list "Gold Digger was ranked 20th.[17]

Awards
Year Organization Award Result Ref.
2005 Antville Music Video Awards Best Video Nominated [18]
Kiss Awards Most Wanted Download Nominated [19]
Vibe Awards Coolest Collabo Nominated [20]
2006 BET Awards Video of the Year Won [21]
Best Collaboration Won
Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Song Nominated [22]
Hot Rap Track Won
BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Award Winning Songs Won [23]
Grammy Awards Record of the Year Nominated [24]
Best Rap Solo Performance Won
International Dance Music Awards Best Rap/Hip Hop Dance Track Won [25]
MP3.com Awards Best Single Won [26]
MTV Asia Awards Favorite Video Nominated [27]
MTV Australia Video Music Awards Best Male Video Nominated [28]
Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated [29]
Best Male Video Nominated
Ringtone of the Year Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Japan Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated [30]
MuchMusic Video Awards Best International Video Nominated [31]
People's Choice: Favorite International Video Nominated
Soul Train Music Awards Video of the Year Won [32]
Best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance Cut Nominated
TEC Awards Record Production/Single or Track Nominated [33]
2007 BMI Pop Awards Pop Awards Won [34]
2010 Brit Awards Best Live Performance at the Brit Awards Nominated [35]

Commercial performanceEdit

 
West and Foxx performing "Gold Digger"

Following the chart performance of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", which failed to crack the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, West's label became concerned with how a follow up single would perform. Their concerns were unfounded as "Gold Digger" became a success, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Pop 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and the Hot Rap Tracks charts.[36]

When Late Registration was released, the album version of "Gold Digger" was first made available for download. Approximately 80,000 digital downloads of "Gold Digger" were sold through legal music services such as iTunes and Napster in that first week, making it the most successful digital sales debut ever.[37][38] The song broke the record for the most digital downloads sold in one week, and the record for the fastest selling digital single of all time, both previously held by Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl". "Gold Digger" sold over 1,000,000 downloads during its seven weeks of release. This makes "Gold Digger" one of the first songs in history to sell over 1,000,000 downloads in the United States. "Gold Digger" was certified as 5 times platinum on April 10, 2014.[39]

The song ascended from number 19 to number one in one week, with the jump ending the 14-week (and 10th consecutive week) run of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" at number one, and keeping Carey's "Shake It Off" from replacing "We Belong Together" as the number one single.[40] The song spent 10 weeks at the top of the Hot 100 until Chris Brown's hit "Run It!" reached number-one on November 19.[41][42]

"Gold Digger" also became West's first Top 10 single on the Mainstream Top 40 chart, peaking at number two.[43] On the Pop 100, "Gold Digger" also broke a record by jumping from number 94 to number two, giving West the record for the biggest ever jump on that chart.[citation needed] By reaching number one, "Gold Digger" gave Charles his first Hot 100 chart-topper as a songwriter, credited as a result of the "I Got a Woman" sample. As an artist, Charles topped the Hot 100 three times in the 1960s, but always with other writers' songs. As of May 2011, the song has sold 3,083,000 copies in the US.[44] In 2009, Billboard revealed "Gold Digger" was the third biggest Billboard Hot 100 song released by The Island Def Jam Music Group.[45]

The single was the top selling iTunes song of 2005.[46][47] The song spent 75 weeks in Top 100 of the UK Singles Chart, the only rap song to have ever spent longer is Low by Flo Rida (77 weeks). The single was the 9th biggest Billboard Hot 100 song of the 2000s.[48][49] "Gold Digger" was the most streamed 2005 song in the UK in 2018.[50] As of May 2010, "Gold Digger" had the fifth highest-ever weekly radio audience peak in the United States, achieving 175.6 million listeners in the week ending October 22, 2005.[51] "Gold Digger” was the second-longest number-one (10 weeks) on the Billboard Pop 100 chart, behind Low and Bleeding Love (12 weeks).

Music videoEdit

The song's music video was directed by Hype Williams, who also directed West's previous video, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone".[52] Shot in a widescreen letterboxed format, using stylized art direction with few props, the video features performances shots of West interspersed with footage of Williams' trademark female video models depicted as "pin-up" cover models from fictional vintage magazines.[53] The titles of the magazines on whose covers the women appear reflect the correlating verses in the song. Foxx is also present, lip-synching both his own parts and the Ray Charles vocal sample. John Legend makes a brief cameo.[54] "Gold Digger" won the BET Award for Video of the Year at the 2006 BET Awards and received nominations for both Best Male Video and Best Hip Hop Video, at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards but did not win either of these awards. ShortList named it the best music video of 2005.[55]

Cover versions and remixesEdit

Cover versions
  • The song was also later sung by the Oceanian Hip-Hop duo Noozfa & Izzei[citation needed], and they made a crunk remix featuring White Dawg, and Lil' Jon. In addition, it was also sung in Kingston, Jamaica by various other artists like Lil' Bow Wow, C-Murder and Beenie Man.
  • "Gold Digger", done in a polka beat, is the last segment of "Polkarama!", the polka medley on "Weird Al" Yankovic's album Straight Outta Lynwood. This version substitutes a second "broke" instead of "niggas", like the edited music video.
  • English solo artist Dear Landlord performed an acoustic version of "Gold Digger".
  • Vitamin String Quartet recorded a string quartet version of the song for one of their Unstrung albums.
  • Christian parody band ApologetiX parodies the song as "Bone Digger" on their album Wordplay.
  • The Rhode Island-based jazz/funk/hip-hop group Milkbread often covers the song at live shows with a funkier, horn-based groove.
  • Welsh indie rock band The Automatic recorded a cover version of the song, which features on Radio 1's Live Lounge CD, as well as later being featured on their final single Raoul. During Leeds Festival 2006 they performed it live with Adequate Seven and the lead singer and saxophonist of Capdown. They also performed it live at the 2007 Reading festival, with fellow Welshmen, Goldie Lookin' Chain and at the 2007 Get Loaded In The Park. At the Newquay Boardmasters Festival in 2006, they performed it live with The Mystery Jets; Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly and My Elvis Blackout.
  • On September 13, 2012 The X Factor UK contestant Lucy Spraggan performed the song on week two of season 9.
Remixes
  • In 2006 a drum and bass remix was released by High Contrast.
  • Lil Wayne freestyled over the beat for his mixtape, The Suffix. Similar freestyles have been done by Juelz Santana and Gangsta Boo, among others.
  • In 2005 American DJ and producer Diplo remixed the track; he edited the song's chorus to resemble the voice of Ray Charles. The electronic track was titled "Gold Digger (Diplo Mix)" and appeared on the release "Hollertronics Vol 3" on the Money Studies Records label.[56]
  • A politically charged mash-up of the song titled "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" circulated following Hurricane Katrina, incorporating audio of Kanye West's own assertion that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" on a televised benefit concert. The song criticized George W. Bush for his slow reaction to the plight of New Orleans and was written by Houston hip-hop duo also known as K-Otix. The single became widespread on the Internet for several weeks after the catastrophe, in some cases backing video mash-ups with photo montages from the hurricane.

Formats and track listingsEdit

PersonnelEdit

Information taken from Late Registration liner notes.[57]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Ray Charles, Renald Richard
  • Producers: Kanye West, Jon Brion
  • Recorded by: Andrew Dawson, Anthony Kilhoffer, Tom Biller
  • Audio mixing: Mike Dean
  • Assistant engineers: Richard Reitz, Matt Green, Nate Connelly, Mike Mo
  • Additional vocals: Plain Pat, Don C
  • Scratches: A-Trak

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[93] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[94] Platinum 90,000 
Germany (BVMI)[95] Gold 150,000 
Italy (FIMI)[96] Gold 25,000 
New Zealand (RMNZ)[97] Gold 7,500*
United Kingdom (BPI)[99] 2× Platinum 1,430,000[98]
United States (RIAA)[100] 8× Platinum 3,083,000[44]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit