“All of the Lights” by Kanye West (ft. Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie)

“All of the Lights” dates back to what we may term as the more esoteric stage in Kanye West’s career. But it has been reasonably put forth that in the chorus, when Rihanna gets to mentioning a desire for the audience “to see all of the lights”, that’s another way of putting forth the intended purpose of this song, which is to detail the behind-the-scenes’ trials and tribulations of the celebrity vocalists. But be that as it may, the original title of this track was actually “Ghetto University”. And relatedly, what the verses actually center on is these types of less-than-ideal everyman situations that one may fall into.

For instance, as for Kanye, he claims to have ‘slapped his girl’ and resultantly getting in trouble with the law. This also causes him to be hated by her family, being separated from their daughter and having a strained relationship with said ex, who has now moved on to another guy. Moreover, the whole legal process has ended up sucking him dry and now has the vocalist lamenting that he cannot be with his daughter, who “need(s) her daddy”. 

To note, this story is obviously fiction, at least as far as Kanye was personally concerned at that time, as this was prior to his relationship with Kim Kardashian and having his first child through her in 2013. However, looking back now, these lyrics sorta read as if they are prophetic.


Fergie, the main vocalist of the third verse, then proceeds to beef about being on the “unemployment line” and having her “credit card declined”. Well considering that in reality she’s a celebrity singer, especially back during the time this song was dropped, we can take it that her tale is also fictitious. And likewise we can presume, going back to the term “ghetto university” which is mentioned a couple of times in this track, that “All of Lights” was originally intended to be one of those tales-from-the-‘hood kinda songs.


So with that idea in mind and also combining the theory that this is supposed to be about the vocalist’s real-life or what have you, perhaps what Kanye and co. are actually speaking to are the kinds of situations they could have faced before their pre-fame days.

Lyrics to Kanye West's "All of the Lights"

“All of the Lights” Info

Primary Artist(s): Kanye West
Featured Artist(s): Rihanna, Fergie, and Kid Cudi
Release: January 18 of 2011
Album/EP: “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Who wrote “All of the Lights”

The writing of “All of the Lights” is officially credited to Kanye West, Fergie and the following:

  • Terius Nash
  • Warren Trotter
  • Jeff Bhasker
  • Malik Jones

FYI: West produced this track, with support from co-writer, Bhasker.

When was “All of the Lights” released?

On 18th of January, 2011, Roc-A-Fella Records in association with Def Jam Records officially released “All of the Lights” as a single. It was issued as single number 4 from West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”.


This hip-hop song won two Grammy awards in 2012 – one for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” and the other for “Best Rap Song”.

“All of the Lights” was a top-20 hit for Kanye in the United States as well as the UK.

In the United Kingdom, “All of the Lights” currently holds a platinum certification from the BPI. Here, it has sold over half a million units. In the US, the figure is even more extraordinary. Sales in the US, currently stand at over 5 million units. In 2020, “All of the Lights” was certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA.

Covers of “All of the Lights”

Since Kanye dropped this song in 2011, several artists have covered and sampled this song. One such notable example is Childish Gambino’s version of 2011. That same year, British rapper, Skepta, also came out with his interpretation of this hit.

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