“Gold Digger” by Kanye West (ft. Jamie Foxx)
Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” is a song which is obviously meant to possess a comedic undertone. And that characteristic, in a manner of speaking, stands at the forefront of this track’s popularity.
But the actual subject matter at hand is quite serious. Anyone who knows what a “gold digger” is (i.e. a female who economically exploits romantic interests), would also know, by the title, what this song is about. But there are intricacies to the narrative which speak specifically to Kanye’s experiences with celebrity, i.e. him recognizing what some of his peers have gone through in that regard and also acknowledging that he’s a target of gold diggers himself.
What it all boils down to is a warning to men not to fall for the wrong woman – i.e. a gold digger – and to also be prepared just in case. As presented, these women are such that they go about milking lovers without consideration of said individual’s own financial or emotional wellbeing. In some cases, the lack of morality in their actions extend even beyond that.
For instance the second verse (via a comedic slant with references to Michael Jackson’s addiction to plastic surgery) relays the tale of a gold digger using money she scored from the man (who’s implied to be an NFL star) in the name of taking care of their child to rather get plastic surgery. The interesting part is that the cosmetic surgery this lady goes for is one that she doesn’t even need and has her looking funny afterwards.
The verse concludes by noting that sometimes, a guy can get exploited in such a manner throughout the child’s entire legal youth, only to find out, after “18 years”, that the child isn’t biologically his.
This is a travesty in the eyes of Kanye, that for instance you can have a lady living richer off of a man’s child support, more than he’s able to enjoy from own income. So Yeezy proceeds to advise courses of actions, such as signing a prenup or hitting up Geico, i.e. an insurance company, before getting married.
Whereas logically rich men are the primary targets of gold diggers, as shown in the third verse, even a poor dude can find himself being victimized by one. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is that sometimes being the victim of such ladies can make a dude work harder and therefore come out of the situation even better off than his female exploiter expected, or something like that.
I know she’s a Gold Digger but I don’t mind (:
All of that said, Kanye is an artist who has proven his dedication to keeping it real. So in the very first verse we find being targeted by a gold digger, one whose body count includes fellow music stars such as Busta Rhymes and Usher, as well as homegirl having a few kids of her own. But she’s so attractive, ‘having an a-s like Serena, Trina and Jennifer Lopez’; that Yeezy decides to date her anyway. He dates this gold digger in a heartbeat even though it is established early on that doing such a woman is going to cost him – or anyone else who dares to go there – a significant amount of dough.
Conclusively what West is doing, most simply put, is letting the male audience know that such women exist and that sometimes (even with him personally as mentioned above) may prove too enticing to resist.
So men – and let’s say especially those in the higher-economic spectrum – have to be prepared for the possibility that the woman they fall for, impregnate or even marry may be of such an inclination, i.e. compelled to unscrupulously hit them in the wallet.
“(She give me money) Now, I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger
(When I’m in need) But she ain’t messin’ with no broke ni–as
(She give me money) Now, I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger
(When I’m in need) But she ain’t messin’ with no broke ni–as”
He’d Leave you for a White Girl!
One of the most interesting parts of this song is the closing of the third verse, which is very autobiographical. Therein Kanye seemingly advises a certain Black woman to brace herself for the likelihood her Black man eventually ‘leaving her for a White girl’ once he becomes successful.
Of course as we all know Kanye himself, being an African-American, ultimately opted to marry a White woman in Kim Kardashian in 2014. Directly prior to her, his most notable girlfriend was Amber Rose, who is primarily White but one-fourth African (i.e. Cape Verdean). Then before her, Yeezy was actually engaged to one Alexis Phifer who, by the looks of things, is entirely Black.
So it may be that West was foretelling his own future in that line. As his celebrity grew and became wealthier, he likewise seemed to develop a visible preference for White women. In fact the women Kanye has been dating since he and Kim became estranged circa 2020 have also been Caucasian.
When was “Gold Digger” released?
This track is from “Late Registration”, Kanye’s sophomore studio full-length. More specifically, Def Jam Records and Roc-a-Fella Record released this as the second single from the LP on 5 July 2005.
This outing was not the first collaboration between Jamie Foxx and Kanye West, as the two of them co-headlined a 2003 track, alongside Twista, titled “Slow Jamz”.
As you may already know, Foxx is also an actor/comedian who really made a name for himself after starring in a late-1990s sitcom called The Jamie Foxx Show and subsequently making a name for himself in the music industry via “Slow Jamz” and “Gold Digger”. But interesting to note is that in reality, his discography dates all the way back to 1994. This was the year that Foxx dropped his first album, “Peep This”, which did meagerly manage to appear on the Billboard 200.
It has been pointed out that “Gold Digger” marks the first time Kanye topped the Billboard Hot 100 as the sole-lead vocalist. And interestingly, the first time he participated on a Hot 100 chart topper was through the aforementioned “Slow Jamz”, which, as noted, was also a collaboration with Foxx.
Kanye West is officially credited as one of three writers of “Gold Digger”. Music legend, Ray Charles (1930-2004) is also a credited writer. So is Renald Richard (1925-2021).
Charles and Richard are acknowledged because “Gold Digger” interpolates a track by The Genius that the two wrote titled “I’ve Got a Woman” (1954).
Kanye produced this track with Jon Brion, a behind-the-scenes’ man who at that point was not experienced in hip-hop. But Kanye became fascinated with Brion via the latter’s work with Fiona Apple.
The turntable scratches present on the track were contributed by one DJ A-Trak.
It has been alleged that Kanye and co. – or perhaps more specifically DJ A-Trak – sampled the phrase “get down”, as found in the chorus, from a mid-1970s track titled “Bumpin’ Bus Stop” by an outfit called Thunder & Lightning. So the children of the leader of that band, one David Pryor, went on to sue West in 2013. But the following year Kanye and co. basically won the case, as a judge decided that said sample had been distorted to the point that no one would recognize it.
“Gold Digger” strikes Gold!
This song, arguably the epitome of an earworm, was mega successful. For example, not only did it appear on six different Billboard charts but actually topped all of them, including the Hot 100. Moreover, “Gold Digger” was a chart topper in Oceania and peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart.
In addition to the regions above, “Gold Digger” was also big in the following places:
- Australia #1
- Belgium #4
- Ireland #3
- New Zealand #1
- Scotland #3
- Netherlands #20
- Sweden #34
Besides that, “Gold Digger” (as of 2020) stood at a whopping octuple-platinum status stateside and has also achieved multi-platinum status in Australia and the UK. And then there are the plethora of accolades this song has grabbed over the years. At the top of the list would be this track earning Kanye a Best Rap Solo Performance Grammy in 2006. Its album (“Late Registration”) also took home the Best Rap Album award that year.
Besides the audio itself being a success, the Hype Williams directed music video to “Gold Digger” also met with success. It received a bunch of MTV nominations. Most notably, it earned Video of the Year honors via the 2006 edition of the BET Awards.
Popular Live Performances of “Gold Digger”
Kanye West is known to have first performed “Gold Digger”, albeit an earlier version of the song, during an event known as the 2nd Annual Dynamic Producer Conference, which was held in New York City circa late 2003.
At the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, West collaborated with Jamie Foxx to perform “Gold Digger”. It was one of the main show’s performances.
At the 2006 Grammy Awards, West alongside Foxx performed this song at event’s “Halftime” show.
West performed a mash-up of “Gold Digger” and “Touch The Sky” at 2006 Brit Awards.
West did a solo performance at Coachella on 17th April, 2011. Other acts during the festival included Kings of Leon, Arcade of Fire and The Strokes.
West and Drake organized a benefit concert called “Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert”, sponsored by Amazon, on 9th December 2021. “Gold Digger” was one of the songs covered during the live broadcast.
More Interesting Facts about “Gold Digger”
Interesting to note is that the line from “I’ve Got a Woman” that is interpolated into “Gold Digger” is actually this: “she give me money, when I’m in need”. However, in the intro, Foxx, who is more or less taking on the role of Ray Charles, modifies the sentence.
His modified sentence reads as follows: “she take my money when I’m in need”. But in the chorus he does in fact state, contrarily to the rest of the track, that “she give me money”.
To further note, the multi-talented Foxx portrayed Ray Charles on the 2004 musical Ray, which was based on the late singer’s life. In fact the year prior to this song being dropped, Foxx took home the Academy Award for Best Actor due to his portrayal of Charles.
That being said, it has been reported that “Gold Digger” was conceived prior to the release of Ray.
Kanye did not initially concoct this song to be recited for himself. Instead the originally-intended vocalist is a female rapper, also from Chi-town, known as Shawnna, who turned it down. Therefore at first, the lyrics were written from a woman’s perspective.
Grammy-decorated singer John Mayer was one of the first people to hear “Gold Digger” in its raw state. According to Mayer, shortly after Kanye finished writing the lyrics of “Gold Digger”, he was so excited that he rapped the entire song to him. Mayer was left astonished by what he heard from his friend.