10. Street Lights
Street Lights has Kanye walking through the mundanity and repetitive nature of life, making for a depressingly beautiful moment on 808s & Heartbreak.
Backed by puslating tribal drums, feint piano work and a distorted guitar, Street Lights is one of Kanye's most powerful and emotionally impacting songs in his career. He describes the titular street lights zooming past him as he hops in a cab. He then compares those passing streets to moments in his life passing him by. In this one lyric, he distills all of his existential dread. Time is running out and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.
The reason this stands out so much in terms of Kanye's discography is because of the subject matter. Kanye has rapped about sombre topics many a time, and in a very personal matter. What is rare for him is to be questioning the purpose and nature of his own existence, especially considering that he's a devout Christian.
Of course when talking about any track from 808s and Heartbreak, one must always factor in that the entire album was recorded in the midst of extreme trauma in his personal life. His relationship with Alexis Phifer ended, and, more importantly, his mother had passed away.
Listening to Street Lights with this information makes the song even darker, and more gut wrenching.