Diamonds From Sierra Leone

Album: Late Registration (2005)
Charted: 8 43

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about Roc-A-Fella records, which is West's label. The chorus, "Throw your diamonds in the sky" refers to the Roc-A-Fella hand signal, which is the shape of a diamond. West makes it clear, however, that real diamonds are a different story, as many of them are mined using child slave labor in African nations like Sierra Leone. His aim was to show that the profits from these illicit "blood diamonds" bankroll civil wars in these African nations. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR
  • This is based on the song "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey. Written by John Barry and Don Black, "Diamonds Are Forever" is the theme to the James Bond movie of the same name released in 1971.
  • This won the 2006 Grammy for Best Rap Song. Late Registration also won for Best Rap Album, beating out Common's Be, which West also worked on. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Movie director Michel Gondry played live drums on this song. The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind filmmaker happened to be in the studio on a day when producer Jon Brion was setting up a drum kit. Gondry also directed the live-action video for another Late Registration track, "Heard 'Em Say."
  • West traveled to Prague to shoot the music video with his go-to director: Hype Williams. "I'm really into architecture and art, period," West told MTV News of filming in the Czech Republic capital. "You get the sculptures, the cathedrals, the stone floors. It gives you a timeless feel, and we're gonna shoot it in black and white. That look represented the music in 'Diamonds.'"

    The clip shows scenes of wealthy Europeans shopping for jewelry while African children labor in mines to provide them with diamonds. It closes with the message, "Please purchase conflict-free diamonds."

Comments: 12

  • Marissa from Akron, Ohthis is a really good song but the part that goes "forever ever forever ever?" and gets really high pitched is annoying. but the fact that it's a rap song that actually has a meaning beyond criminal activity, self-indulgent lifestyle and promiscuous women makes up for any part of it that might be annoying.
  • Zul from Cotonou, BeninGood morning this aint vietnam still....
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI like this song a lot, and find it interesting that it charted higher in the UK than in the US. In some weird way, I think of this song as an updated, dystopian version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." Maybe that's what the Brits like about it. Great song that shows Kanye isn't "just a rapper," although I don't think there's anything wrong with a musician being that.
  • Victor from Palm Desert, CaGreat song! its about time a REAL rapper comes and saves hippity hop. BIG ups to kanye, lupe, talib kweli, mos def, and common.
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlDevo Springsteen (Devon Harris) won a 2006 Grammy Award for producing "Diamonds are Forever (From Sierra Leone)" and it was his idea to use Shirley Bassey's track (she has no case because she doesn't own the rights to the song, they got the proper permission to use the song, she was just merely the singer on the original, not the writer). Devo Springsteen is also Kanye West's first cousin who was also John Legend's college roommate. Devo is the one who introduced John Legend to Kanye West, and they started working together, they both were very instrumental in the discovery of eachother's careers.
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlKanye got the idea for the remix and to touch the topic of "Blood Diamonds" after Q-Tip (of a Tribe Called Quest) came to his studio one day and told Kanye about the diamond trade.
  • Nikki from Chicago, IlThe original version is about Rocafella Records after the rumors of the Dynasty ending, and he is letting everyone know that The Dynasty lasts forever (The symbol for the Dynasty is a Diamond shape, just like the Delta's use as their sign)----The remix, however, talks about the Diamonds from Sierra Leone, until Jay-Z does his verse. The video for the original does shine light on the coldness of the diamond trade and how many children in Africa were murdered or got limbs cut off as a result, many people lost blood because of the diamonds.
  • Australia from Aggieland, TxActually Ben, if you listen to the remix of the song he clearly discusses exactly what Lauren has described. This version is rarely on the radio though (@ least where I'm from)!
  • Ben from Nyc, Msit cant. it can s**k, but it can't be political. Duran Duran is more talented than "Kanye West"
  • Andrew from Batavia, IlShirley Bassey became very angry with Kanye West by using her song "Diamonds Are Forever" in the chorus without asking her permission.
  • Christina from Nor*cal, Caand who said rap couldnt be politcal.
  • Lauren from Hobart, AustraliaIn this song Kanye is actually referring to how in the african country Sierra Leone young children in mine fields often loose limbs and risk death in order to create the gold needed for bling bling that many rappers wear, and kanye is describing how he once thought wearing these jewels were harmless but children on the other side of the world are forced to risk these elements for welthy materialistic celebrities.
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