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"Barry Bonds"
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/70/Graduation_%28album%29.jpg/290px-Graduation_%28album%29.jpg
Song by Kanye West featuring Lil Wayne
from the album Graduation
Released September 11, 2007
Recorded 2007 at Chung King Studios
(New York, New York)
Durt Factory Studio
(Norfolk, Virginia)
Genre Hip hop
Length 3:24
Label Roc-A-Fella
Def Jam
Songwriter(s) Kanye West
Dominick Lamb
Dwayne Carter, Jr.
Norman Landsberg
John Ventura
Leslie Weinstein
Felix Pappalardi
Producer Nottz
West (co.)
Singles chronology
Barry Bonds
(September 11, 2007)

"Barry Bonds" is a song by American hip-hop recording artist and record producer Kanye West. It was released as the seventh song on the track-listing of his third studio album Graduation (2007).

The track was co-produced by Norfolk record producer Nottz alongside West and contains a sample from a live recording of "Long Red" by the American hard rock band Mountain. The song is built on dense, loping reggae drums and has a spare trip-hop groove driven by moaning bass guitar. In addition to early 1990s hip-hop, it also harbors elements from funk and jazz. Although the arrangement primarily maintains a stripped-down approach, its ominous instrumentation assumes a bombastic combination of twinkling keyboards, minor-key synths, and Gothic organ stabs.

The song features a guest appearance from rapper Lil Wayne, who provides the one single guest rap verse on the entire studio album. With the track, West uses former Major League Baseball player and home run king Barry Bonds as a metaphor for his ability to create music hits.

The track managed to chart without ever being released as a single. "Barry Bonds" peaked at number twenty-four on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.

Although an accompanying music video was never produced for "Barry Bonds," a special video clip was made for the track. The video clip premiered during an album listening session West held for Graduation at the New World Stages in New York City. It was one of seven clips that were designed by Kanye West and edited by film editor Derrick Lee exclusively for the event. The video clip for "Barry Bonds" features a montage of scenes taken from the 2003 South Korean film Oldboy.

Background

"Barry Bonds" was written by Kanye West, who co-produced the track with Norfolk record producer Nottz. The song was a late addition to the track-listing of West's forthcoming third studio album Graduation (2007). West had almost completed putting the finishing touches on the album when he realized that he was in need of a street-oriented record. After the name of Nottz, a record producer from Norfolk, Virginia came up during conversation, his manager sent three of his tracks over to West. One of Nottz's beats caught West's ear and after making some adjustments, he chose to use it to write the lyrics for a rap song. The song is named after Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds, who West uses as a metaphor for his ability to create music hits.

Recording

A majority of the songs on Graduation had contained glossy, layered synthesizer-based productions influenced by West's excursion into electronic music. Although with "Barry Bonds" the backing track retains a more conventional, straightforward hip-hop production. West desired a simplistic boom-bap beat akin to kind typically used for the backdrop of a freestyle rap in order to place lyrical wordplay in at the forefront but was also club-friendly. Nottz incorporated his signature dense drums and low-end Moog basslines. Though synthesizer was used to fashion the chord sequence of the track, it maintains a patchy, analog aesthetic. West integrated a cut-up vocal sample from a live recording of "Long Red" by the hard rock band Mountain into the chorus section.

Recording sessions for "Barry Bond" took place at Chung King Studios in New York City and at Durt Factory Studio in Norfolk, Virginia. Once the recording sessions were complete, the track was then mixed at Chung King Studios.

Composition

"Barry Bonds" is a hip-hop song that runs for a duration of three minutes and twenty-four seconds. It is a gritty mix-tape track built on a loping reggae drumbeat and spare trip-hop groove. The musical composition also retains elements of funk and jazz, resulting in a corrosive, bass-heavy sound that recalls early 1990s hip-hop. It has ominous, minimalist instrumentation consisting of slow synths, dense drums, thick organ, twinkling keyboards and pulsing bass guitar. The dense beat of "Barry Bonds" is misty and bombastic, driven by low rumbling bass that swerves with languid aggressiveness.

The song starts out slow, opening with a moaning bassline intro and a stripped-down approach. But then it suddenly swells to take on a sinister ambiance of gospel howls, glistening minor-key synths, and gritty drum breaks. West demonstrates the eccentric use of confident rhyming coughs during the chorus. Later on at its refrain, the track further expands to accommodate Gothic organ stabs before being brought back by its piercing, sinuous bass run. The song's hook also contains rough shouting vocals from a sample of "Long Red" by the American hard rock band Mountain.

Chart performance

Even though it was not released as an official single, "Barry Bonds" still managed to chart. The song made both its debut and peak at number twenty-four on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, which acts as a twenty-five song extension to the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, for the issue date of September 22, 2007.

Video clip

Although "Barry Bonds" doesn't have an accompanying music video, a special video clip was made for the track prior to the release of Graduation. It was displayed for the very first time when Kanye West hosted a late-night album listening session for Graduation in New York City on August 28, 2007 at the New World Stages. The video clip for "Barry Bonds" was one of seven that were designed by Kanye West and Derrick Lee exclusively for the event. Derrick Lee was the editor of the music video for "Flashing Lights" and was able to edit all seven video clips in three days. They are taken from scenes of the hammer-fight sequence from the 2003 South Korean film Oldboy.

Cover versions

"Barry Bonds" has been covered and remixed by other hip-hop artists and record producers. Just six weeks after its release, Canadian rapper and singer Drake performed a freestyle rap over the instrumental of "Barry Bonds" and included it on his 2007 mixtape Comeback Season. With largely braggadocios lyrics, Drake veered away from his charismatic melodic vocal style in favor of straightforward rapping. A remix for "Barry Bonds" was produced by Eli Escobar and included on Sky High, a remix mixtape that was mixed and compiled by DJ Benzi and Plain Pat. The mixtape features remixes by various DJs and record producers of songs taken from West's first three studio albums. It was made in anticipation of the release of his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak (2008). The remix project was commissioned by Kanye West himself the year prior. He handed over a cappellas and other session tapes to DJ Benzi, who then spent his time trying to match different and DJs and producers to certain tracks. Like every of the other tracks, "Barry Bonds" (Eli Escobar Remix) had at least five revisions recorded before being completely finished. The song's instrumental was given a new club-friendly dance vibe.

The Florida production duo Urban Noize dedicated to Kanye a remix EP entitled Mr. West that features eight remixes of his songs. A remix of "Barry Bonds" was among them, and duo incorporates bass instruments into the track to engender a bluesy sound. Visionary Music in-house record producer 6ix has used chopped-and-screwed technique on samples of West's vocals from "Barry Bonds" combined with a vocal sample from "My Chain" by Gucci Mane for the production of the tracks "My Chain" as well as "Life of a Don" for rapper Logic. Like West, Logic uses confident lyricism to acknowledge his success, expounding that seemingly materialistic items serve to convey past accomplishments. He included the latter on his third mixtape, Young Sinatra: Undeniable, and released the former as a promotional single for his debut studio album, Under Pressure (2014). Austin battle-rapper Phranchyze did a freestyle over the track under the new title "Barry Bonds Flow" for his Phranye West mixtape. Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt used samples from "Barry Bonds" to produce the instrumental track "Bary".

Personnel

Information taken from Graduation liner notes.

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Dwayne Carter, Dominick Lamb
  • Producers: Nottz, Kanye West
  • Recorders: Andrew Dawson, Nottz Raw, D. Sloan
  • Mix engineer: Mike Dean
  • Assistant engineers: Anthony Palazzole, Andy Marcinkowski
  • Bass guitar: Vincent "Biggs" James
  • Keyboards: Mike Dean

Charts

Chart (2007) Peak
position
US Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles (Billboard) 24