Jail
by Kanye West (featuring Jay-Z)

Album: Donda (2021)
Charted: 11 10
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds an Auto-Tuned Kanye West bellowing about feeling imprisoned about his failure to live an upright and honest life. Yeezy knows he will trip up again and again in his Christian walk and would head for hell if it wasn't for God posting bail; the Lord has made the payment for us all by sending his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
  • The song starts off with a double meaning.

    Take what you want
    Take everything
    Take what you want


    Kanye acknowledges to God that everything belongs to Him. Therefore, He can take what he wants.

    West is also telling his wife Kim Kardashian he doesn't want a battle during their divorce; she can have everything she wants.
  • Later in the song, Kanye reflects on the backlash he has endured for his past controversial remarks. He tells his detractors "we are all liars," and instead of imprisoning him with canceling, they should let it go.
  • The song is one of the most-talked-about tracks on the Donda album as it marks the reunion of Kanye West and Jay-Z. In the decade following the pair's much-lauded collaborative album Watch The Throne, Yeezy and Hova had an occasionally strained relationship. Jay-Z's verse on "Jail" marks the first time the two have collaborated on a song since Drake's 2016 single "Pop Style," where Kanye contributed a verse and Jay a two-line bridge.
  • During his verse, Jay reflects on his own sinful nature. The rapper says he needs to pray five times a day, like Muslims do, as he commits "so many felonies."
  • Jay also hints at the possibility of Watch the Throne 2.

    This might be the return of The Throne (Throne)
    Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus
    You are not in control of my thesis
  • West previewed the song during Donda's first listening event at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Audio engineer and producer Young Guru claimed Jay recorded his verse just hours before the event at 4 p.m.
  • Kanye West co-produced the electric guitar-laden beat with:

    California producer Dem Jointz. He contributed to four Donda tracks in total and also supplied additional vocals on this song.

    88-Keys, who first met Kanye in the early 2000s when the two were both living in Newark, New Jersey. His Yeezy credits include the Watch The Throne track "No Church in The Wild" and the Yeezus song "Blood On The Leaves."

    Longtime Kanye West collaborator Mike Dean. Following the first listening event, West took up temporary residence in one of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium's locker rooms. He converted it into a recording studio where Dean helped him finish the recording and mixing.

    Writing and producing duo Ojivolta (Shawn Mendes "If I Can't Have You," Rosé's "On The Ground").
  • West also recorded a polarizing sequel titled "Jail, Pt. 2" featuring controversial rapper DaBaby and contentious rocker Marilyn Manson.
  • This won for Best Rap Song at the Grammy Awards in 2022. Ye wasn't at the ceremony (he was taking some time off from public appearances), but he also won Best Melodic Performance for "Hurricane."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe ShaverSongwriter Interviews

The outlaw country icon talks about the spiritual element of his songwriting and his Bob Dylan mention.

Yacht Rock Quiz

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillian

Soul Train Stories with Stephen McMillianSong Writing

A Soul Train dancer takes us through a day on the show, and explains what you had to do to get camera time.

dUg Pinnick of King's X

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music Scene

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Corey Hart

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."