Diamonds from Sierra Leone

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"Diamonds from Sierra Leone"
Single by Kanye West
from the album Late Registration
ReleasedMay 31, 2005
The Record Plant
Grandmaster Recording Studios
(Hollywood, California)
GenreHip hop
Kanye West singles chronology
"The Corner"
"Diamonds from Sierra Leone"
Audio sample
"Diamonds from Sierra Leone"
Music video
"Diamonds From Sierra Leone" on YouTube

"Diamonds from Sierra Leone" is a song by American hip-hop artist Kanye West. It was released on July 4, 2005, as the lead single of his second studio album, Late Registration.[1] The song includes a sample of the song "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey and Bassey had praise for West after he sampled it. The song peaked at number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100, was moderately successful on the iTunes music service, and peaked at number 8 on the UK Top 40. It won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song at the 48th Grammy Awards.


After gathering information on the plight of children in West African countries, who since 1991 have been forced to mine conflict diamonds and die in civil wars financed by them, West recorded a remix to "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" which featured an additional closing verse by Jay-Z and new verses that detail the situation in Sierra Leone. He initiates the remix by proclaiming, "Good Morning! This ain't Vietnam. Still, people lose hands, legs, arms for real. Little was known of Sierra Leone, and how it connects to the diamonds we own"[2] The remix was included as the thirteenth track within the album, whereas the original version was included as a bonus track. An unofficial remix entitled "Conflict Diamonds," which went into even further detail regarding the situation in Sierra Leone, was recorded by Kanye's friend and fellow Chicago hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" remains a crowd favorite and is one of West's most performed songs. It boasts a chorus that calls for listeners to "Throw your diamonds in the sky," referring to the Roc-A-Fella hand sign, which is in the shape of a diamond.


The song contains a sample of the theme song for the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, that is of the same title as the film, as performed by Shirley Bassey.[3] Bassey was reported to be very impressed with West's performance and stated that she wished to work with him in the future.[4] West explained how he went on to record "Crack Music" after having sampled Bassey in an interview with Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian when saying:

All this is saying is, OK I see now, the 'hood does not quite want Shirley Bassey yet, so let me still give them this. Crack Music was made after Diamonds. After black people were like, 'I don't know about this one.' It was like me reaching too high for the cookie jar.[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" was directed by Hype Williams and shot entirely in black and white.[6] It was filmed on location in the city of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. West was fascinated by the architecture found in the capital and felt its sculptures, cathedrals, and stone pavements emitted the timeless feel of "Diamonds".[7] The video illustrates the topics West would later touch on within the remix of the song, as it features visuals of young African children toiling away in mines under the careful watch of their wardens. The images are juxtaposed with scenes of wealthy Europeans shopping in boutiques and trying on jewelry. The music video ends with text that reads, "Please purchase conflict-free diamonds".[8] The video was nominated for Best Male Video at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Music Video at the 2005 NAACP Image Awards.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Track listings[edit]


Information taken from Late Registration liner notes.[3]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Devon Harris, John Barry, Don Black
  • Producers: Kanye West, Jon Brion, Devon Harris
  • Recorders: Anthony Kilhoffer & Tom Biller
  • Mix engineer: Manny Marroquin
  • Assistant engineers: Richard Reitz & Jarred Robbins
  • Keyboards: Tom Craskey
  • Guitars: Dave Tozer
  • Drums: Michel Gondry

Chart positions[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[13] 52
Canada (Canadian Singles Chart)[14] 18
Denmark (Tracklisten)[15] 9
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[16] 32
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[17] 17
Germany (Official German Charts)[18] 67
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 19
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[20] 9
Norway (VG-lista)[21] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[22] 30
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 52
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[24] 8
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[25] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 43
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[27] 21
US Hot Rap Tracks (Billboard)[28] 11
US Pop 100 (Billboard)[29] 40
US Rhythmic Top 40 (Billboard)[30] 24

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[31] 98
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[32] 91


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[33] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Format Date
North America Digital download, 12" May 31, 2005 (2005-05-31)
United Kingdom Digital download, CD, 12" July 4, 2005 (2005-07-04)
Germany CD July 25, 2005 (2005-07-25)


  1. ^ "For Kanye, Confidence Is King". Billboard. 2005-08-29. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  2. ^ Crosley, Hillary; Aswad, Jem (2005-06-14). "'Diamonds' Remix: Kanye Raps About Rocks, Jay Raps About Roc". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2005-06-14.
  3. ^ a b Late Registration (Media notes). Kanye West. Roc-A-Fella Records. 2005.
  4. ^ World Entertainment News Network (2007-10-29). "Shirley Bassey Wants To Work With Kanye West". Starpulsec. Starpulse. Archived from the original on 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
  5. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (2005-08-05). "Interview with Kanye West, the cockiest man in rap | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  6. ^ "Throw Your Diamonds in the Sky: Kanye West Returns with Epic New Video 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone'; Hype Williams-Directed Video Set to Air This Week as Hot New Remix Feat. Jay-Z Blasts off at Radio". Business Wire. New York. 2005-06-15. Archived from the original on 2019-02-03. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  7. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2005-05-17). "Kanye West Shooting 'Diamonds' Video In 'Pray-Goo'". MTV. MTV Networks. Archived from the original on 2019-02-03. Retrieved 2005-05-17.
  8. ^ Barker, Ernest; Kamer, Foster; Ahmed, Insanul; Notro, Lauren; Spencer, Tannis; Simmons, Ted; Shipley, Al (2018-06-08). "Ranking All 43 of Kanye West's Music Videos". Complex. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  9. ^ "2006 BMI London Awards". BMI. 3 October 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Grammys - Artist - Kanye West". Grammy. Archived from the original on 8 December 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  11. ^ Scott Lapatine (31 July 2006). "2006 MTV Video Music Award Nominations". Stereo Gum. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  12. ^ "37th Annual NAACP Image Awards Noms Announced". Emmys. 21 January 2005. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  13. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  14. ^ "Kanye West Chart History (Canadian Singles Chart)". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  15. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Tracklisten. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  16. ^ "European Hot 100 Singles – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2005-07-23. Archived from the original on 2015-07-08. Retrieved 2005-07-23.
  17. ^ "Kanye West: Diamonds From Sierra Leone" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  18. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  19. ^ " – Discography Kanye West". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  20. ^ "Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Hung Medien/ Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  21. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". VG-lista. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  22. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  23. ^ " – Kanye West – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  24. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  25. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  26. ^ "Kanye West Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  27. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2005-09-17. Archived from the original on June 9, 2014. Retrieved 2005-09-17.
  28. ^ "Hot Rap Tracks – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2005-07-30. Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved 2005-07-30.
  29. ^ "Pop 100 – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2005-10-22. Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved 2005-10-22.
  30. ^ "Rhythmic Top 40 – Diamonds From Sierra Leone". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2005-07-02. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved 2005-07-02.
  31. ^ "End of Year Singles Chart Top 100 - 2005". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  32. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - 2005 Year End Charts". Billboard. 2005. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  33. ^ "American single certifications – Kanye West – Diamonds from Sierra Leone". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]