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"Can't Tell Me Nothing" is a song by Americanmarker hip hop artist Kanye West. It was released as the lead single of his third studio album, Graduation, on May 15, 2007. The song was produced by Kanye West and DJ Toomp. It received a nomination for Best Rap Song at the 50th Grammy Awards.

Background

The cover art of the single was designed by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The song is featured as the sixth track on Now That's What I Call Music! 26. Though "Can't Tell Me Nothing" didn't impact pop radio as well as the album's subsequent singles, West took pride in the fact that he had attained his very first street anthem with the song. The song was nominated for "Track of the Year" at the 2007 BET Hip-Hop Awards.

Music and lyrics

"Can't Tell Me Nothing" features slow, moody synth-driven production, exemplifying the new sonic direction that would come to dominate much of Graduation. West stated that he drew inspiration from arena-rock bands such as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, elaborating that the song's chords are akin to that of a rock melody. He also explained that with the track, he wanted to make anthemic music and create a theme song for the people.The song contains audio samples of ad-libs provided by Young Jeezy as well as background vocals provided by Connie Mitchell of the Australian electronic group Sneaky Sound System.

Lyrically, "Can't Tell Me Nothing" serves as West's reflection on his fame and as such hovers between insecurity and braggadocio while marked by bitter regret and self-aware defiance. West begans the song by expouding his conflicted feelings regarding wealth and desire, describing a compulsion to spend that overwhelms any and all other objectives in life. He ties this into his perceived overall inability to keep himself together even as he grows into an increasingly prominent figure in the public eye with lyrics like, "I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny / And what do I do? Act more stupidly."

Reception

PopMatters described "Can't Tell Me Nothing" as a "powerful single".The Chicago Tribune chronicled West's performance as "defiant, defensive, rueful, sarcastic and deadly passionate." Entertainment Weekly cited “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” as the sixth best song of 2007. Pitchfork Media listed the song at number twenty-five in its "Top 100 Tracks of 2007" list. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was listed as the thirteenth best song of 2007 by Stylus Magazine. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" debuted at number eighty on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 7, 2007, where it eventally peaked at number forty-one.

Music video

The music video for "Can't Tell Me Nothing" was directed by Hype Williams and released on Kanye's official website on May 25, 2007. To visually complement the thematically distanced, alienated feel of the track, the music video was filmed in a desert. The video, much like the song itself, carries a minimal aesthetic, with scenes shot in a barren, wide-open desert landscape. For a limited time, it was available as a free download on the U.S. iTunes Store.

On July 25, 2007, Kanye premiered an alternate video on his website. This version was directed by Michael Blieden and featured comedian Zach Galifianakis and folk singer-songwriter Will Oldham. West had been introduced to Galifianakis' work through his personal trainer, and asked him to perform in his video after attending one of Galifianakis' stand-up shows in Los Angelesmarker. The unscripted, low-budget clip was filmed at Galifianakis' farm in North Carolinamarker and features him and Oldham lip-synching to the song. The alternate video was selected by Rolling Stone as the third best music video of 2007. Pitchfork Media cited the version as thirtieth best music video of the decade.

Live performances

On June 1, 2007, Kanye made a surprise appearance at DJ Gomez Warren's set in Los Angeles, Californiamarker to play "Can't Tell Me Nothing" to an audience which included Sanaa Lathan and Gabrielle Union. He provided a performance of the song during his set at Live Earth 2007, before joining The Police and John Mayer onstage to perform "Message in a Bottle" for the concert's finale. On July 7, West performed the song as during his gig at the Manchester Apollomarker for the Manchester International Festival. West played “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” alongside Common, Q-Tip, and Mos Def during impromptu jam session that took place on July 18 at S.O.B.'s in Manhattanmarker hosted by Hot 97, where he served as a DJ battle judge. Kanye and 50 Cent later joined each other onstage to provide a suprise performance before an audience of over 20,000 people for a show held on August 22 in Madison Square Gardenmarker during Ciara and T.I.'s Screamfest '07 tour. On August 7, he performed a medley of "Stronger" and "Can't Tell Me Nothing" during an in-studio appearance on MTV's Total Request Live. On September 11, Kanye provided a live rendition of the song during his appearance on BET's 106 & Park. Kanye provided a performance of "Can't Tell Me Nothing" for the opening of the 2007 BET Hip Hop Awards on October 13. He performed the song during his surprise appearance at L.A.’s GriffithPark as the launch party for the new T-Mobile Sidekick LX. In midst of a brief European tour, West played the song at Le Zenithmarker in Paris, Francemarker, where he expressed difficulty performing after succumbing to emotional distress following a failed attempt to perform "Hey Mama" on November 17, merely one week after his mother's passing. After providing a surprise appearance at a concert held by Kid Sister in New Yorkmarker's Museum of Natural History on January 26, 2008, West remained onstage to perform "Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Good Life" and "Flashing Lights". Kanye performed "Can't Tell Me Nothing" alongside Jay-Z at American Airlines Arenamarker in Miami, Floridamarker for the opening of his Heart of the City Tour on March 22. He performed the song live for the opening of Japanesemarker artist Takashi Murakami's exhibit at the Brooklyn Museummarker on April 4. Following a performance of their second collaboration "Put On", Kanye West and Young Jeezy provided a live rendition of "Can't Tell Me Nointhing" at the Philips Arenamarker in Atlanta, Georgiamarker for the 13th annual Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash concert on June 13, 2008. West provided a performance of “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” during his appearance at the Knitting Factory in New York Citymarker on September 9. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" was included within the setlist of West's conceptual Glow in the Dark Tour that first took off in early 2008. During the concert, an LCD screen seated behind him displayed a fiery expolsion that ignited on the "oh" hook. Giant lizard Near the end of the tour's North American leg, West performed the song during the final night of Lollapalooza 2008 in his hometown of Chicagomarker, where he co-headlined the festival with Nine Inch Nails. Dressed in an all red outfit, West performed "Can't Tell Me Nothing" during his set a Z100's Jingle Ball in Madison Square Garden on December 12. He performed the song in Hyde Park, Londonmarker while headlining the second and final day of the 2009 Wireless Festival. West gave a performance of "Can't Tell Me Nothing" before an audience of 3,000 students during his free Stay In School benefit concert at Chicago Theatremarker on July 11, 2009. He provided a live rendition of the song on August 6 at the Casio G-Shock the World event at Cipriani's on Wall Streetmarker, where he performed in front of a shifting digital display screen that counted down his time onstage.

Remixes and other versions

The official remix featured Def Jam labelmate Young Jeezy and was later released as a B-side which accompanied Graduation's third single, "Good Life". A second remix, featuring Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and Young Jeezy, was released July 25, 2007. Another remix features West's Rocafella labelmates Beanie Sigel and Freeway. Francis and the Lights recorded a cover of the song for Engine Room Recordings' compilation album Guilt by Association Vol. 2, which was released in November 2008.

Track listing

Digital download
  1. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" – 4:33


U.S. 12" single'
A-side
  1. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (Album)
  2. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (Instrumental)
  3. "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (Remix)
B-side
  1. "Barry Bonds" (Main)
  2. "Barry Bonds" (Instrumental)
  3. "Barry Bonds" (Accapella)


Personnel

Information taken from Graduation liner notes.
  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Aldrin Davis
  • Producers: Kanye West, DJ Toomp
  • Recorders: Andrew Dawson, Anthony Kilhoffer, Tony Rey
  • Mix engineers: Mike Dean, Andrew Dawson
  • Keyboards: Darryl Beaton, Chris Rob
  • Additional vocals: Young Jeezy, Connie Mitchelll


Chart positions

Chart (2007) Peak

Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 41
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 20
U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Tracks 8
U.S. Billboard Pop 100 55
U.S. Billboard Rhythmic Top 40 36
UK Singles Chart 107
Canadian Singles Chart 16


Year-end charts

Chart (2007) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 77


Release history

Region Date Format
North America CD, 12", digital download
United Kingdommarker CD, digital download
Irelandmarker/International Digital download


External links



References

  1. Greg Kot (August 31, 2007). 'Graduation' day arrives: Kanye West exploits his growing pains. Chicago Tribune. Accessed October 1, 2007.
  2. "Cant Tell Me Nothing" alternate video with Zach Galifianakis. Kanyewest.com. Accessed August 27 2007.
  3. My First TRL
  4. Official "Can't Tell Me Nothing" Remix. kanYe Talk (July 25 2007). Accessed August 27 2007.



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