Kanye West's 'Runaway' studio version hits the Web: Love it or hate it?

Kanye-West-VMAsImage Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.comKanye West‘s “Runaway” held 11 million pairs of eyes in rapt attention when he debuted it at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. But how compelling is the song itself without all the televised spectacle, when it’s just another MP3 on your iPod on a random weekday? Now that NYC radio DJ Funkmaster Flex has debuted West’s studio version of “Runaway” online, we have an answer. And I like “Runaway” even better this way than I did at the VMAs.

Away from all the pyrotechnics and backward-bending ballerinas, it’s easier to hear how much effort West put into “Runaway.” The production is up there with his best recent work, layering ominous synth thrums in several shades over the coldly plinking keys that open the track. His lyrics are plain-spoken and unpolished, perhaps too much so at times, but there’s no denying their emotional power. While West’s last album was widely praised for its vulnerability, the dominant mood on 808’s & Heartbreak was self-pity. Here he casts a much harsher and more critical eye on his own flaws, especially in that sure-to-be-divisive chorus: “I always find something wrong/You’ve been putting up with my s— just way too long/I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most,” West admits, later adding, “Never was much of a romantic/I could never take the intimacy.” Some might see mere shock value in West’s apparent description of himself as a “douchebag,” a “scumbag,” and other less printable terms, but to me his self-loathing feels bracingly real. As a nerdy rap blogger, I am also professionally obligated to note that the Clipse’s Pusha T hands in a typically sterling guest verse. (I am a sucker for an Ichabod Crane reference.)

What do you think of West’s “Runaway” now that the studio version is out there? How does it compare to “Power,” “Monster,” and the other new tunes he’s released lately? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (102 total) Add your comment
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  • taz

    He is awful and so is his music.

    • Jay

      Agreed. Such an ignorant ass.
      …and before people start flaming, I hated this loser long before the Taylor Swift incident, that has is just one item on my list of reasons why I hate Kanye West.

      I boycott everything he has anything to do with, and post about my hatred for him at every given opportunity.

      • HD

        why do you hate him?
        technically you are flaming too?

      • @ Jay

        Why don’t you boycott articles that are about him too. Please take your negativity with you. Hate is such a strong word and if you choose to let someone like Kanye bother you so much then I guess there is not much going on in your life.

      • Jason

        Well, didn’t take too long for the racists to show up did it?

      • blake

        Wow jackson that was blatantly racist and it wasnt even true. He was famous long before autotune was even around, in fact almost all of his best songs involve absolutely no autotune

      • Meso Soup

        My guess is you have no life?

    • Kabeer

      Kanye is a weirdo but he can put a song together…. You may not like his style of music or you may not like him but he makes good music…

      • The Dude

        He gives a lot of dough to charity, is mad talented and you should never judge another man as you don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

      • Fred

        “Mad talented”? Are we in 1997?

      • TheLoveDoctor

        That was a lovely love song that Taylor wrote him…he should write her a love song in return on his new cd. How are the lovers? I gotta check up on that news…did they catch up backstage? LOL :)

    • FromChicago

      He should. not. sing.

      • chris

        and you should get a life

      • Ben

        And put a period after the ‘he’ if you want to do it right.

    • gearhead

      FISH STICKS!!!!

    • Meso Soup

      I’m sorry but he IS talented no matter his arrogance.
      Deal with it.

  • keisha

    I loved it he maybe arrogant at times but I love tht he isnt scared to say wht he thinks the man is an icon!!! love u ye!!!

  • couchgrouch

    sorry Simon…what you describe as “emotional power” I describe as the 10000000th hip=hop “song” with vile language and extremely weak writing.

    • Jason

      Grandpa I told you to stay off the computer!

  • LOL at these LOSERS

    I have to laugh at all these losers who come on website to hate on a person. Taylor Swift got over it, why cant some of you? Obviously, you guys have bigger problems than Kanye West. Why should his life have an affect on yours? What a joke. LOL.

    • couchgrouch

      don’t care anything about TS. the title of the article was Kanye’s song, love it or hate it. I pointed out that Kanye’s “song” was nothing more than juvenile profanity and bad writing. his life only affects mine when CNN insists on running crawls about his tweets over and over. maybe if he spent less time tweeting, he’d learn how to write.

      • ag

        isn’t the bigger problem that CNN is running his tweets? You should find a better news outlet.

      • johnQ

        “Now I embody every characteristic of the egotistic
        He know, he so, f****n’ gifted
        I just needed time alone, with my own thoughts
        Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault”

        “They say I was the obamanation (abomination) of Obama’s nation
        Well, that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation
        At the end of day, g**ammit, I’m killin’ this s**t
        I know damn well y’all feelin’ this s**t
        I don’t need yo’ p**sy, b**ch, I’m on my own d**k
        I ain’t gotta power trip, who you goin’ home with?”

        And you think this man cant write??

    • Jay

      I dont care about TS either. He was hated by millions long before he showed his true colors on that evening at the VMA’s.

      Dont care what his music sounds like, I will NEVER listen to it.

      • Isaac

        I will always listen to his music

      • HD

        George Bush Hates Black People. lol

    • Kabeer

      Exactly…. The world is fueled by hate… You cant stop it… Kanye was the best thing to happen to Taylor Swift…lol Ooohh he took the mic and said Beyonce should of won…. SO WHAT!!!

      • T

        oh my…..and DITTO!!

      • Tom

        So what? Because it is rude and classless and had nothing to do with him. Believe it or not, there are such things as decorum, etiquette, acceptable social behavior, professionalism, and just plain being polite. Too bad Kanye (and apparently you) is not aware of any of those things.

      • Jason

        Yeah, Tom, all those things exist…but not on the VMAs. Ever. Seriously.

  • JC

    Classic Kanye! Let’s have a toast for his #1 debut this November :)

  • Isaac

    Awesome Awesome Awesome!!!

  • T

    Haters like Jay and couchgrouch gonna hate. There’s nothing we can do about it. If they want to hate on Kanye, let them.

    That doesn’t change the fact that Kanye has millions of fans like myself, who stuck by him through the good and bad, plus millions more “sheep” fans who will go back to liking him when the media says it’s ok to like him again.

    To each his own, and I think Kanye’s one of the few icons that hip-hop can be proud of left alive today. Peace.

    • Jay

      “I think Kanye’s one of the few icons that hip-hop can be proud of left alive today”

      seriously?!?!? proud of?? “Icon”??

      you are delerious
      he makes music… like it or not, how could you ever be “proud” of him?

      • T

        I can be proud of him because he makes music, as you said. Not everyone can make music, just as the same way not everyone can dance or paint. In this day and age where are the arts are exploited for profit, its nice to see that SOMETIMES, people like Kanye can exhibit the talent to be artistic.

        And yes, he is a Hip-Hop Icon. The reason why got so much flack last year was precisely because of his stature in the music industry. You didn’t see people make a big deal about ODB’s interruption during the 98 Grammy’s.

        If you don’t agree, fine with me. Call me delirious. That’s why we have opinions man. Peace.

    • couchgrouch

      I don’t hate the guy…I just think he can’t write. of course, he’s got a really big mouth and that makes his complete lack of musical talent all the more galling. other than that, it’s not like I spend time thinking about him or his dopey looking pimp suit. it is a shame when a music critic calls the crap he writes “emotionally powerful”, but hey, EW’s gotta cater to its demo.

      • T

        Well said, I see your point. I’ll admit that some of his recent work wasn’t as strong as the gems he had early on in his first three albums, but some of his songs like “Hey Mama”, “Family Business”, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” just to name a few, are evidence that the man can write.

        He may not have churned out the same quality of lyrics recently, but the guy has it, as evidenced in the past, a big reason why I want him to succeed, because it shows he’s not you cookie cutter hip-hop artists nowadays.

        Still, you have your opinions about him, I do as well. To each his own. Peace!

      • couchgrouch

        I mean no disrespect but I looked up Diamonds and it’s a load of thrown together nonsense. Kanye can’t write.

    • HD

      Writing aside, Kanye is one of the best hip hop producers of our generation. There really isn’t any argument against this. He’s been involved with some of the best Hip Hop Albums in recent history, not even including his own.

  • Ryan

    It is a brilliant critique of how messed up celebrity culture is and how awful award shows are. And they chanted his name. F*ck you if you don’t understand.

    • LOL at YOU

      Your self-righteousness is nauseating. What a joke you are.

    • Jason

      What I don’t understand is why you watch award shows.

  • lady gagas biggest fan!!

    omg i love it!!!!!!!!!!! he shoould win loads of awards for the next award show! omg i think hes so funny!! i love the song !!! the vmas were AMAZING!!!! ke$ha was awsome (SHE SHOULD HAVE WON BEST NEW ARTIST!!) GAGA WAS JUST A GODDESS!!!!! NOW SHE WON AS MUCH AWARDS AS MICHAEL JACKSON WON IN A SINGLE NIGHT!! (i dont care about michael haha lol) omgggg florence and the machine was amazing but kanye deserved to close the show!! that song is still stuck in my head!!! i usually listen to pop so this is a big change for me!!!

    • Tom

      Is this post a joke or are you a really stupid twelve year old girl from the suburbs?

  • mel

    Great song Kanye……… Love the chorus

  • Declan McCabe

    You slag the man off so what he can be arrogant but the man is a Genius when it comes to a sexy beat and incredible lyrics he puts his heart into his work and so he can do what he wants because the man has the right to show off his work speaks for itself. :P

    • tC

      Couldn’t agree MORE!!

  • D

    Kanye’s song musically was good, but he should stick to making beats and producing. The man can’t write for sh*t and he sure as hell can’t rap. Sorry but it’s true.

  • Sc

    You people say he can’t write. CAN YOU? If not then who are you to say if he can or can’t…..people buy it so he must be doing something right….bottom line most of you a haterd in denial. Kanye is always himself……most of the artist you think can write. 1.don’t write the songs they sing. 2 Most of your favorite artist couldn’t hold a convo without someone else telling them what to say #dead

  • jadakiss

    this song is really good. everyone else saying otherwise or saying he cant write are pathetic. this man has a career while YOU dont have chet. but only get on the internet to hate on such raw talent.

    • couchgrouch

      Larry Flynt has a career, too. Kanye has no talent, raw or otherwise. just a big mouth.

  • meel

    it seems like a lot of white ppl hate kanye….just cant accept the fact that the greatest artists in music are always black…you just can’t deny his talent and the quality he releases..he’s one of the greats

    • couchgrouch

      I agree that the best musicians are often black. Louis Armstrong, Blind Blake, Muddy Waters, Miles, Hendrix, Sly, James Brown and many, many others. I’ve got an extensive collection of black music. Kanye West is not in that league. his lyrics are just profane gibberish and his “music” is mostly machines. I absolutely deny his talent.

    • @ Meel

      I would be a hypocrite if I did not call you out for that statement. If someone said the “greatest artists in music are always” white, I would be pissed off. You comment is obviously racist and factually flawed. There have been many great white artist too and throwing the race card unnecessarily makes you look stupid. Some people just don’t like rap, plain and simple. It is not a race issue. I know many black people who can’t stand rap. And I like his music, but he is hardly one of the greats.

    • Tara

      Were the Beatles black? Was Elvis Presley? What about Bob Dylan?

      • Jason

        NO. duh.

      • marlene

        Elvis pressly. NOT ORIGINAL, Copied and stole black music

        bob dylan, some originality, but cant really sing

        The Beatles was British invaders, who took like the Rolling Stones, ideas from Motown, and Black America. and of course it was their white privilege to take it

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