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"Love Lockdown" is a song by American hip-hop artist and record producer Kanye West. It was released on September 18, 2008 as the lead single of his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak. The track was written by West who co-produced it with Jeff Bhasker. Prior to its release as a single, West premiered "Love Lockdown" with a performance at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. As a pop song that retains influence of synthpop, "Love Lockdown" features auto-tune vocals sung by West. Its minimalist production is characterized by the Roland TR-808 drum machine, keyboards and tribal drums.

"Love Lockdown"
Love lockdown.jpeg
Single by Kanye West
from the album 808s & Heartbreak
ReleasedSeptember 18, 2008
Glenwood Studios
(Burbank, California);
Avex Recording Studio
(Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • West
  • Bhasker
Kanye West singles chronology
"Stay Up! (Viagra)"
"Love Lockdown"
Audio sample
"Love Lockdown"

Time magazine critic Josh Tyrangiel named "Love Lockdown" the best song of 2008.[1] Despite being a drastic departure from his previous work, the song was well received by critics, and was frequently cited as a highlight of the album. The single was also successful commercially, as it managed to debut at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and has since sold over three million copies in the United States.[2] West performed the song on Saturday Night Live, The Ellen Show, Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as well as at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards.


Inspired by 1980s synthpop icons such as Phil Collins, Gary Numan, and Boy George, "Love Lockdown," much like 808s & Heartbreak as a whole, is composed as a melancholic pop song sung by West using the Auto-Tune vocal effect and produced with the Roland TR-808 drum machine.[3] West stated his intention was to juxtapose the mechanical sounds of the auto-tune and 808s with the more traditional sounds of taiko drums and choir monks.[4] West debuted "Love Lockdown" on September 7, 2008, as the closing performance of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. On September 18, he released it as the lead single of 808s & Heartbreak. After announcing it as the album's first single, West posted free copies of the song on his blog for fans to download. A week later, he also posted six downloadable stems, each featuring isolated song portions of "Love Lockdown", on his blog, with the intention of enabling fans to freely remix the song for themselves.[5] These portions include an a cappella, distorted background vocals, 808, percussion, piano, and the outro synth-beat.[6]


"Love Lockdown" is an uptempo pop song that runs for a duration of four minutes and thirty seconds.[7] According to the sheet music published at by EMI Music Publishing, it is set in the time signature of common time, with a quick tempo of 120 beats per minute.[8] "Love Lockdown" is composed in the key of C# minor, and West's vocal range spans nearly two octaves, from a low of G3 to a high of G5.[8] The song is written in a verse-chorus form that expresses quiet-loud dynamics, featuring verses delivered in a low, somber tone before shifting into loud, chanting choruses. The track's minimalist soundscape is primarily built on the rhythm of Roland TR-808 drum machine which emulates a human heartbeat.[9] For much of the song, West's auto-tuned voice is accompanied by somber keys and simplistic, repetitive 808 bass drops before building into more layered sounds during the chorus.[10][3] Going further against the typical sound of hip hop beat, along with the 808, the track instead makes use of thunderous tribal drums for its instrumentation.[11] The song contains introspective lyrics where West discusses the aftereffects of a failed romantic relationship.[12]

Chart performanceEdit

In the United States, Billboard confirmed that "Love Lockdown" sold 213,000 digital downloads in only four full days of release, therefore earning itself the title of a "Hot Shot Debut" at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and a "Hot Shot Debut" on the Pop 100 at number thirteen, where it eventually reached the eighth spot in early January. It is the highest debut of West's career, and was the second highest debut on the Hot 100 of 2008, tied with David Cook's "The Time of My Life." "Love Lockdown" is also only the tenth song of the decade to debut in the top three, and only the second by an artist unaffiliated with American Idol.[13] The single also made a "Hot Shot Debut" at number five on the Canadian Hot 100.[14]

In Europe, "Love Lockdown" peaked at number eight the UK Singles Chart and at number four on the Irish Singles Chart. It also debuted at thirty-eight in Italy and thirty-nine in Sweden. In Australia, the song debuted in its first week at thirty-seven on the ARIA Charts and peaked at number eighteen. In New Zealand, it has peaked at the eleventh spot on the RIANZ chart. On the German Singles Chart, "Love Lockdown" debuted at number eight, giving West his first top ten and highest charting single in Germany to date.

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Love Lockdown" was premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.[15] the video was filmed in West's apartment and features him in an all-white room, dressed in white singing the verses of the song. West claims he drew inspiration from Christian Bale's portrayal of Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron's 2000 film adaptation of the novel American Psycho, a homage that is echoed in the presentation of the video's interiors, which mirror Bateman's New York City apartment in the film.[16]

During the song's choruses, African tribe members appear, beating on djembe drums to the rhythm of song. More and more tribal members are shown with each chorus, and near the end, two very tall female figures covered with body paint decorated with abstract tattoo patterns reminiscent of the Nazca Lines appear. Interspersed throughout the video are visuals of what appears to be a spacecraft. The video ends with West laying in fetal position on the couch in the white room, in a homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Filming was shot by director Simon Henwood, with producer Hagai Shaham, director of photography Jonathan Sela, and production designer Richard LaSalle. Editing was done by Nick Allix. Post Production was done at Prime Focus London by VFX producer Josephine Simon-Mogensen, Flame artists Dan Lorenzini, James Maclachlan, Flame assistants Chris Chitty, Adam Crocker, Richard Watson, colourists Duncan Russell and Tom Russell.[17]

Covers and remixesEdit

Usage in mediaEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

Track listingEdit


Information taken from 808s & Heartbreak liner notes.[7]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Jenny-Bea Englishman, Malik Yusef, LaNeah Menzies
  • Producers: Kanye West and Jeff Bhasker
  • Keyboards: Jeff Bhasker
  • Vocals and Drum Machine: Kanye West
  • Drums/Percussion: Gibi, Zé Bruno, Lula Almeida and Rodney Dassis



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[59] Gold 35,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[60] Gold 15,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] Gold 400,000 
United States (RIAA)[62] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^


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  5. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2008-09-25). "Kanye West Lets Fans Remix "Love Lockdown" For Free". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
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  10. ^ Bailey, 2014. p. 106
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External linksEdit