“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, according to Kanye West, and has continuously stated that it is his favourite song that he has ever written. The track received critical acclaim from many music publications and was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008, but the track lost the award to another one of West’s songs: “Good Life”. Complex magazine named it their song of the decade in 2012.
“Can’t Tell Me Nothing” draws inspiration from Led Zeppelin and other musical rock figures. West spoke to website “concreteloop” about his recognition regarding the appeal of the song. “I set out not to just make records that could hop off the radio instantly, but stuff that will speak to people. People still bring up ‘Spaceships’ to me. And people compare ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ to ‘Spaceships’ saying that’s a song that inspires them when they going to work. But the chords itself is like a Led Zeppelin, Rock melody. Yeah, you thinking it’s made for the car and you thinking it’s made for the club, and it works in the arena because DJ Toomp did the drums and all that, but the actual melody is made to rock 50,000 people.” The track consists of West discussing his thoughts over wealth and material possessions and their worth, as well as analysing his own actions, as heard in a line in the first verse that states: “I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny / And what I do? Act more stupidly”.
There were two music videos for the track. The first one was directed by Hype Williams and released on West’s website on the 25th May 2007. It was initially available online, and then was available for free for a period of time on the US iTunes store. It is also uploaded to West’s official YouTube channel on the 16th June 2009. The video has over 75 million views as of May 2019, and is extremely simple in terms of cinematography, featuring West singing the track in a desert, with a car driving through, as well as a woman running away from the camera barefoot. The alternate music video was available from the 25th July 2007, and featured comedian Zach Galifianakis and folk singer Will Oldham, and was directed by Michael Bileden. The video was filmed in Galifianakis’ farm and simply features himself and Oldham lip-syncing to the song.
Release Date: 15th May 2007
Songwriter/s: Kanye West, Aldrin Davis
Producer/s: Kanye West. DJ Toomp
Label/s: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Music Video Release Date/s: The first music video released for “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was released on Kanye West’s website on the 25th May 2007. The second alternate music video was also released via West’s website on the 25th July 2007.
Music Video Director/s: The first music video released for “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was directed by Hyper Williams, and the alternate video by Michael Bileden.
Chart Rankings & Certifications: When “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was released in 2007, it hit #16 in Canadian charts, #145 in France, #107 in the UK Singles charts, #41 in the US Billboard Hot 100, #20 in the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, #8 in the Billboard Hot Rap Songs, #55 in the Billboard Pop 100 and #36 in the Billboard Rhythmic charts-. The track went double Platinum in the US, Silver in the UK and Gold in Australia.