Paranoid (Kanye West song)

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"Paranoid"
Paranoidcover.png
Single by Kanye West featuring Mr Hudson
from the album 808s & Heartbreak
ReleasedMarch 23, 2009
Format
Recorded2008
Glenwood Studios
(Burbank, California)
Avex Recording Studio
(Honolulu, Hawaii)
Genre
Length4:37 (album version)
4:45 (new mix)
3:25 (video version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Kanye West
  • Jeff Bhasker
  • Plain Pat
Kanye West singles chronology
"Amazing"
(2009)
"Paranoid"
(2009)
"Knock You Down"
(2009)
Mr Hudson singles chronology
"There Will Be Tears"
(2008)
"Paranoid"
(2009)
"Supernova"
(2009)
Music video
"Paranoid" on YouTube

"Paranoid" is a song by American recording artist and record producer Kanye West, from his fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak (2008). It includes a feature from Mr Hudson, who West ultimately signed to G.O.O.D. Music. West co-produced the song with Jeff Bhasker and Plain Pat, with the three of them co-writing it along with Consequence and Kid Cudi. The composition includes electronic drum effects and pop synths. The lyrical content of the song is centered around West being pushed away by the mistrustful thinking of a lady that he is in love with. Kid Cudi provides background vocals on it. The song was released to top 40 radio stations in the United States on March 23, 2009 as the fourth and final single from the album. Later that year, it was released as a digital download and digital EP in both the US and Belgium.

West and Mr Hudson performed the song live together at the 2009 iTunes Festival. "Paranoid" charted at number 14 and 90 on the Belgium Ultratip Flanders chart and Australian Singles Chart respectively in 2009. An accompanying music video was released on June 3, 2009 and Rihanna has a lead role in it. A remix was released by West in December 2008, featuring Mr Hudson and Big Sean. The song was covered by the Suzan in 2010 and Kali Uchis in 2018 respectively.

Background[edit]

Mr Hudson performing at the Lovebox Weekender festival in Victoria Park, London in 2009
The song includes a feature from Mr Hudson, pictured in 2009.

Outside of his feature on the song, Mr Hudson helped write and produce 808s & Heartbreak track "Street Lights".[1] After featuring Hudson on "Paranoid", West signed him to his label G.O.O.D. Music.[2] Mr Hudson went on to release his debut studio album Straight No Chaser in October 2009 under G.O.O.D. Music and a feature was included from West on the single "Supernova".[2] West and Kid Cudi first met each other at a Virgin Megastore in 2004, with the meeting including Cudi asking West to sign him; West respectfully declined his request, though Kid Cudi told him "I have the potential for greatness."[3] American producer Plain Pat sent West the mixtape A Kid Named Cudi, which West popped up at the release party for after hearing it and then took Cudi under his wing.[3] He co-wrote several other songs on the album alongside "Paranoid" in Hawaii with West, including the breakout single "Heartless".[4] Kid Cudi has been believed to have directly influenced the album's creation, which West himself confirmed as being true.[4] 808s & Heartbreak track "Welcome to Heartbreak" stood as the first ever collaboration between the two, though they later collaborated on numerous other tracks, including the likes of "Erase Me" and "Gorgeous".[5]

Though the majority of the album sees West at his most vulnerable, "Paranoid" is one of the most joyful songs on it.[6] West had been looking for an electronic sound on the album, which is included within the song.[7]

Composition[edit]

"Paranoid" includes electronic drum effects and pop synths in its composition, with the synth-pop feel nodding towards influences such as English musician Phil Collins and pop rock band Tears for Fears.[8][6] It incorporates elements of R&B.[9] West begins the song with him laughing while saying "Why are you so paranoid?"[8] The lyrics "Tell me right now / You really wanna spend your whole life alone? / A little time out might do you good / Might do us good 'fore we be done for good" are used in the first verse by West to show that even though the song may seem positive, it has a backdrop of conflict and demise.[8] West sings the lyrics "All of the time you wanna complain about the nights alone / So now you're here with me, show me some gratitude / Leave the attitude way back at home," which are used to show a negative image through West's feelings of opposition towards the lady he is referencing, and he does the same with the lyrics "All of the time, you be up in mine / Checking through my cell phone, baby no / You wanna kill the vibe on another night? / Here's another fight, oh, here we go."[8] Throughout the song, West uses Auto-Tune while he speaks of being in a serious relationship with a lady who "worries about the wrong things" and is pushing him away with her mistrustful thinking.[6][10] West, Mr Hudson and Kid Cudi perform the chorus, with the latter's vocals being included in the background.[11][1]

Release[edit]

"Paranoid" was released as the sixth track on West's fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak on November 24, 2008.[12] The song was ultimately sent to radio stations in the United States on March 23, 2009 as the album's fourth single, shortly after the release of the third single, "Amazing".[13] "Amazing" was serviced to rhythmic/urban radio stations, while "Paranoid" was only sent to US top 40 radio.[14][15][13] A digital EP was released in the United States on June 16, which included a new mix of "Paranoid" and the song's accompanying music video.[16] That same day, the new mix was released on its own for digital download in the US.[17] Six days later, the same version was released for download in Belgium.[18]

On December 16, 2008, a remix was released featuring Big Sean and Mr Hudson.[19] A remix featuring Barbadian singer Rihanna had been recorded in the fall of 2008 and was supposed to be released to US mainstream radio stations on January 27, 2009 as the fourth single from 808s & Heartbreak.[20][21]

Music video[edit]

A still of Rihanna in the "Paranoid" music video.

The music video for "Paranoid" was directed by Nabil Elderkin and along with "Amazing," filmed in Hawaii.[22] Elderkin had directed for West in the past on the videos for "Champion" and "Welcome to Heartbreak".[22] The song was the last track from 808s & Heartbreak to have an accompanying video released.[20] During a brief interview at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, West revealed he had cast Rihanna as a lead in the video.[20] In reference to working with Rihanna, West said in the interview: "Yep, she's my Paranoid girl in the video. She's an amazing talent though. Collaborating with her is always a pleasure!"[20] Prior to being casted in it, Rihanna had taken a break from making her own music videos.[23] Island Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid presented a version of the video during an Island Def Jam Event in New York City on May 20, 2009. The music video leaked online on May 27, 2009. The next day, West clarified on his blog that the video was an unfinished version and posted screenshots of the final version.[24] In an interview that took place the following day, Elderkin stated that the leak was merely an early rough cut. In terms of visuals, Elderkin had originally wanted to design the video in an artistic style reminiscent to that of A Clockwork Orange, but West subsequently opted for an abstracted noir concept instead.[22] The video's premise is rooted in fantasy, as it centers around Rihanna's paranoid state of mind causing her to experience a surrealistic dream sequence. Meanwhile, West appears in some scenes in his human form and also his wolf form during the dream sequence.[22] On June 3, West released the finalized version of the music video on his blog, just hours after premiering an unreleased video for "Spaceship." Mr Hudson doesn't appear in the video.[25][26] Elderkin revealed after West released the video for fellow 808s & Heartbreak track "Coldest Winter" in February 2010, which he directed, that there was originally more Kanye in the video for "Paranoid" and he took him out.[27] At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, it was nominated for Best Special Effects in a Video, which was won by "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga.[28][29]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Paranoid" debuted on the Billboard Pop 100 chart at number 96 on March 21, 2009.[30] It has since peaked at number 61 on the now defunct chart.[31] On April 25, 2009, the song made its debut at number 37 on the Mainstream Top 40 and managed to peak at number 34 on May 9.[32][33] On the issue date of July 20, "Paranoid" debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number 90.[34] The following week, it dropped out of the chart.[35]

Live performances[edit]

While showcasing artists signed onto his G.O.O.D. Music imprint, West performed the song live alongside Kid Cudi and Mr Hudson at SXSW on March 21, 2009.[36] West provided a solo performance of the song in Denmark on July 2 while headlining the Orange Stage at the Roskilde Festival.[37] Kanye performed "Paranoid" in Hyde Park, London on July 5 serving as a headliner for the second and final day of the 2009 Wireless Festival.[38] West and Hudson performed the song together again during a concert held at the iTunes Festival in the London Roundhouse on July 7.[39]

Cover versions and usage in media[edit]

"Paranoid" was covered by Japanese pop rock band the Suzan on October 19, 2010.[40] Colombian-American R&B singer Kali Uchis performed a cover version of the track on July 10, 2018 during a BBC Radio 1 Session.[41] Before performing, Kali Uchis told host Annie Mac:

I just love this song. I love all Kanye. 808s & Heartbreak was very inspirational to me. I'm a huge Kid Cudi fan too and so I really just love all of the musicality of it and I loved how he was trying to do something different with his voice. And the heart in it. I thought it was really special.[41]

Bryson Tiller sampled "Paranoid" on his track of the same title.[7]

Track listings[edit]

Digital download[17]

  1. "Paranoid" (NEW Mix) [feat. Mr Hudson] – 4:45

Digital EP[16]

  1. "Paranoid" (NEW Mix) [feat. Mr Hudson] – 4:45
  2. "Paranoid" (Music Video) [feat. Mr Hudson] – 3:24

Personnel[edit]

Information taken from 808s & Heartbreak liner notes.[1]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Patrick Reynolds, Scott Mescudi, Dexter Mills, Jeff Bhasker
  • Producers: Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Plain Pat
  • Recorders: Andrew Dawson, Anthony Kilhoffer
  • Mix engineer: Manny Marroquin
  • Assistant engineers: Christian Plata, Erik Madrid
  • Keyboards: Jeff Bhasker
  • Background vocals: Kid Cudi

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[42] 90
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[43] 15
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[44] 14
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[45] 18
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[46] 34
US Pop 100 (Billboard)[47] 61
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[48] 37

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States March 23, 2009 Top 40 radio [13]
June 16, 2009 Digital EP [16]
Digital download [17]
Belgium June 22, 2009 [18]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]