Blood on the Leaves

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"Blood on the Leaves"
Song by Kanye West
from the album Yeezus
Released 2013
Recorded 2013
Genre Hip hop
Length 6:00

"Blood on the Leaves" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West from his sixth solo studio album Yeezus. It was produced by West, Hudson Mohawke, Lunice, Carlos Broady, 88-Keys, Arca and Mike Dean. It contains samples of Nina Simone's 1965 rendition of "Strange Fruit", and of TNGHT's song "R U Ready."[1] "Blood on the Leaves" peaked at number 89 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[2]

Song analysis[edit]

Gil Kaufman of MTV called "Blood on the Leaves" "a churning anthem about conspicuous consumption" and "example of West's signature dichotomy in which he melds the sacred and profane."[3] The original version of "Strange Fruit" recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 has been deemed "shorthand for music that deals with racial injustice." Kanye also interpolates rapper C-Murder's 2000 song "Down for My N's", beat produced by KLC.

Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork called the song "a nightmarish story of divorce and betrayal,"[1] while Jody Rosen of Vulture states that "[Kanye is] well aware how audacious to interpolate that sacred song into a monstrously self-pitying ... melodrama about what a drag it is when your side-piece won't abort your love child."[4] Nicholas Troester of conservative magazine First Things labeled the song as an "anti-abortion anthem" and thought the focus of the song is "the tremendous selfishness of adults who cannot understand the importance of families or children."[5]

Live performances[edit]

West performed the song live at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. The performance was notable for it's minimal lighting and forest-themed backdrop. Moments before taking the stage, West posted a photo of the backcloth on Twitter with the caption; "it's a tree that was used for lynching." Later he posted a message on his website, "This tree was used for lynching. Those who were murdered are buried in the ground around the tree. Blood on the leaves." [6]

Critical reception[edit]

Rolling Stone ranked "Blood on the Leaves" at number 20 on their list of the 100 Best Songs of 2013.[7] Pitchfork positioned the song at number 11 on their list of the 100 Best Songs of 2013.[8] It was ranked at number 24 on XXL's list of the best songs of 2013. They commented, "Mixing personal memories of a menacing relationship with the horrors of lynching for a record is often looked at as a blasphemous feat at first—but Kanye West made the combination work. Sampling Nina Simone’s 'Strange Fruit,' West’s 'Blood on the Leaves' from his sixth studio LP 'Yeezus' was a gorgeous metaphor of a failed relationship touted with bass, towering horns, and auto-tune effect reminiscent of '808s & Heartbreak'."[9]

The song impressed director David Lynch: "I think it's one of the most modern pieces and so minimal, so powerful but at the same time so beautiful. It's a great, great song".[10]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
France (SNEP)[11] 131
UK Singles Chart[12] 174
UK R&B Chart[13] 38
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 89
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[14] 27


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[15] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Minsker, Evan (June 10, 2013). "Kanye Confirms Daft Punk, Justin Vernon, TNGHT, Chief Keef, Rick Rubin Worked on Yeezus". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Kanye West Chart History (Hot 100)" Billboard. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Gil (June 19, 2013). "Kanye West's 'Blood On The Leaves' And The History Of 'Strange Fruit'". MTV News. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ Jody Rosen. "Rosen on Kanye West's Yeezus: The Least Sexy Album of 2013". Vulture. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  5. ^ Nicholas Troester. "Kanye West's "Blood on the Leaves": An Anti-Abortion Anthem?". First Things. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  6. ^ Coulehan, Erin (26 August 2013). "Kayne West Performs 'Blood on the Leaves' at the VMAs". Rolling Stone. 
  7. ^
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  11. ^ " – Kanye West – Blood on the Leaves" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart for the Week Ending 29 June 2013". ChartsPlus. Liverpool (618): 1–4. June 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ "2013-06-29 Top 40 R&B Singles Archive". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Kanye West – Chart History: R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Kanye West – Blood On The Leaves". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]