“30 Hours” by Kanye West

“30 Hours” is not the easiest Kanye West song to make concise sense of. For instance, he more or less rambles for about three minutes during the outro. But the interpretative consensus is that this piece is dealing with his love life or more specifically his former relationship with an ex. 

It is not entirely so, especially when you take the aforementioned outro into consideration. But yes, the main subject is one of the vocalist’s past romances, and perhaps we can say more specifically how he currently feels about said ex. And from the onset, you can see that Kanye does have some type of beef with her.

That’s because the song opens up with West basically mocking her. For instance, he points out that he’s rich and also lives in “a happy home”, something which the addressee “never saw coming”. That would be another way of saying that she didn’t believe Kanye would be as successful as he’s actually become.

Then, using some colorful poeticism, he proceeds to diss the way she looks now as compared to when they were dating. Afterwards, West once again goes back to alluding to the idea that he’s currently enjoying a fruitful marriage, though this time noting despite distractions which may materialize along the way. 

The end of the first verse serves as a preview of the second, as we have the vocalist beefing at the addressee for all of the travel-related stress she had put him through. He also gives her at least one compliment, stating that she “was the best of all time”, but unfortunately she was not faithful to their relationship.

Verse 2

At the beginning of the second verse, Ye harps back to his earlier days as an up-and-coming celebrity. And it doesn’t particularly seem as if he is doing so within the context of addressing his ex but is perhaps helping to establish the timeline of their relationship.

Shortly thereafter, he turns his focus back on the romance itself. And to make a long story short, it reads as if Kanye freely spent big bucks on homegirl, and she also didn’t have any qualms with exploiting him, in a manner of speaking. 

But at this point in the song, Yeezus more blatantly reveals that she was in fact concurrently bonking another dude. And to reiterate, you can tell that Kanye is offended by her cheating on him, even with the dropping of this track some years later.

Song’s Title (“30 Hours”)

So what the title/chorus is based on is the notion that the vocalist used to drive “30 hours”, from Los Angeles to Chicago, presumably and respectively back and forth, to see homegirl when they were dating. 

Chicago is of course Kanye’s hometown, while Los Angeles is the base of the American music industry. So the prevailing theory is that the addressee would be the West’s former Chi-town sweetheart Sumeke Rainey, i.e. his “first girlfriend”, as in the woman he reportedly dated before blowing up. 

But that theory wouldn’t completely make sense, as in real life she supposedly dumped him beforehand, but in the featured narrative it is obvious that the vocalist was dealing with some level of notable success while he and the addressee were actively in a relationship. 

And by the time this song did come out, Kanye had already knowingly dated a number of women, and he doesn’t go as far as to namedrop any in the lyrics.  So there really is no way to know whom he is talking about specifically, and as such it has also been speculated that the addressee may be a composite of his exes.

Outro of “30 Hours”

The outro, which is by far the lengthiest part of this piece, also starts off with the vocalist expressing the angst he experienced due to his ex’s infidelity. But then it’s like Kanye keeps the beat rocking just for rocking’s sake. In the process, he goes off on tangents, such as giving a shoutout to Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), who at the time was residing in South Africa. 

And before closing out, Yeezy also acknowledges a Def Jam exec by the name of Gabe Tesoriero, as well as his own family for their support when “the media” turns on him. And to note, former NBA player Matt Barnes is also mentioned earlier in the outro, due to a well-publicized event in which he confronted another NBAer for doing his wife.

Lyrics for Kanye West's "30 Hours"

Facts about “30 Hours”

The backup vocals on this track are actually rendered by Andre 3000, of Outkast fame. According to Andre, he was originally set to also contribute a verse to 30 Hours.

Kanye West co-wrote and co-produced “30 Hours” with Mike Dean and Karriem Riggins. On the production side, they were joined by Noah Goldstein. 

The other co-writers are:

  • Jay E
  • Malik Yusef
  • Arthur Russell (1951-1992)
  • Charlie Russell
  • Drake
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Nelly
  • Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) 

Hayes is acknowledged as “30 Hours” samples his 1973 track “Joy”. The late Arthur Russell is also acknowledged as a writer because his 1986 outing “Answers Me” is notably utilized herein. 

Reportedly, “30 Hours” also makes use of a couple of Nelly tracks as well.

This song is primarily known as being part of Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” (2016). But its release on 12 February 2016 was also associated with an initiative Yeezy helmed dubbed GOOD Fridays, in which “30 Hours” was initially made available (exclusively via SoundCloud) for free.

Despite being a promotional single, “30 Hours” still appeared on the UK Singles Chart and a few years later went gold in the US.

Kanye West used the opportunity of this song’s dropping to also make the playlist of “The Life of Pablo” publicly known. The label which backed it all, in addition to his own GOOD Music, is the long-standing Def Jam Records.

30 Hours

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