Foreign Gists

The story behind Kanye West song ‘Monster’


The controversial agent of chaos that is Kanye West is one of hip-hop’s stranger figures. For the final weeks and months of 2022, hip-hop fans and onlookers watched the rapper perform online acts of self-destruction. West has been extremely busy between buying Parler, getting banned from Twitter, and, more recently, appearing on Alex Jones’s Infowars wearing a mask.

However, before West turned his attention to smearing luxury fashion houses, befriending politicians and amplifying right-wing conspiracy theories, West was a revered and critically acclaimed producer and musician. The musician has several Grammys under his belt and has more in his bank account than some people could hope to earn in their lifetime.

However, it is not for nothing as his music has always been exceptional, and although there are some songs that he has featured on and released that are average, such as the 2018 track, ‘I Love It’. Ye’s music is (as Pharrell once told him) “phenomenal”.

One of Kanye’s most admired body of work is his 2010 project My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Although the album was released under the name Kanye West, in hindsight, the project was almost like a group record. The body of work featured everyone in the music business, from Rihanna and Nicki Minaj to La Roux and John Legend.

The album featured a vast array of classics. However, one of the most memorable tracks from the project is, undoubtedly, ‘Monster’. Produced by Kanye West and Patrick Reynolds (Plain Pat), ‘Monster’ was initially released as part of the rapper’s ‘GOOD Friday’ series, for which every week, he unleashed a free download in promotion of the album. However, the song was eventually released as an official single due to its popularity and became the third.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was produced and recorded solely in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Kanye is quite the recluse when making music, hence why he chooses locations such as Hawaii and Wyoming to record his masterpieces.

The track features Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and the indie folk group Bon Iver. Not all of the artists featured actually travelled to Hawaii. However, Rick Ross was invited there to work with West and did have several studio sessions alongside him on the island. ‘Monster’ was initially intended for West’s 2011 collaborative album Watch the Throne alongside Jay-Z. However, the rapper and producer felt (thematically) it fitted better on his 2010 project.

Bon Iver also worked on ‘Lost in the World’, another track from the 2010 album. In an interview with the music publication Pitchfork, the band’s frontman, Justin Vernon, discussed his impressions of West as a n individual, revealing, “I think he’s very aware of the person he is, and I applaud him for that. It takes a lot of strength just to stay how he is amongst all the sh*t that he’s subjected to. But I found him extremely like a bro. You could talk to him about whatever.”

Rick Ross, who did fly to Hawaii, was flying there for another track and was not an artist Kanye wanted to appear on the song. However, he had told West that it needed an intro of some sort, and Kanye agreed. Speaking to MTV News about the session, Ross disclosed, “I wasn’t originally supposed to be on the record. I was next door working on another Kanye collaboration.”

The Miami emcee continued. “I walked in, like, ‘This is so big.’ [Kanye] was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was playing the track, spitting his verse for me. That’s before he even laid it. I’m like, ‘That’s dangerous.’ At the same time, me being a hustler, I’m thinking of just an intro for the record. He was on point with it. Me being the artist I am, I was sitting there talking to him and came up with an intro bridge.”

Although Ross did appear on the final track, his verse was not received well by critics who thought that his absence on the single would have made it better. To much surprise Jay-Z’s verse was also not well received. However, it was Minaj who blew critics away.

West had specifically called upon Minaj for the track. However, in an interview with Sway In The Morning Kanye admitted that he was considering taking Minaj’s verse off the track because she was so much better than the rest of them, including himself, and he didn’t want the guys to feel overshadowed.

With regard to the video, it was pulled off of YouTube but this was years after the track’s release. The video, which features depictions of dead women upset feminist groups who organised a petition who claimed that the visual perpetuates violence against women and glamorizes misogyny. Some even went as far to say that it glorifies necrophilia. In its time on YouTube the video gained millions of views and an original version is still on the internet.

You can listen to ‘Monster’ and watch its accompanying music video below.