West premiered this boastful track a cappella at the July 1, 2012 BET Awards, soundtracked only toward the end by his foot angrily stomping on the stage.
The recorded version features an assist from G.O.O.D. Music's Pusha T, in which the Clipse MC references his drug-dealing past and exotic car collection, then in the second verse he baits his competitors. "I believe there's a god above me/I'm just the god of everything else," he raps at the beginning.
West starts his verse by rapping about the attractiveness of his sneakers in comparison to Air Jordan ("Hold up, I ain't tryna stunt, man. But the Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman"). He proceeds to namedrop in one line a Hip-Hop legend, a civil rights leader, a victim of police brutality and a late R&B icon. ("I'm living three dreams. Biggie Smalls', Dr. Kings', Rodney King's. 'Cuz we can't get along, no resolution. 'Til we drown all these haters, rest in peace to Whitney Houston."), as well as referencing violence in his Chicago hometown ("What has the world come to, I'm from the 312. Where cops don't come through and dreams don't come true").
The song features a vocal sample of Ghostface Killah's "Mighty Healthy" from his 2000 Supreme Clientele
album and borrows the drums from Melvin Bliss' "Synthetic Substitution." The legendary Bernard "Pretty" Purdie's percussion on Bliss' 1973 tune is one of the most sampled drum breaks in the history of music. We could spend all day listing its many uses since the early 1990s, but lest we come across as being too geeky, we'll limit ourselves with Wu-Tang producer RZA's borrowing of the drum sound in three mid-90's classics: namely Gravediggaz's 1994 joint "Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide", Method Man's 1994 love jam "All I Need" and RZA's 1995 collaboration with Ol' Dirty Bastard, "Cuttin' Headz." Can we mention just one more? Moby borrowed the percussion for his 2002 single "Extreme Ways
The album version was recut to include an additional verse by Ghostface Killah (who is sampled on the single release) replacing Kanye West's GOOD Music chant.
Pusha T explained to The Guardian that the song, "is basically a statement saying we are the best and this is the new way of listening. We are," he added, "at a godly level of rap. You're beneath us, you're nothing. And, you know, that's how we see you, our competition."
Pusha's verse is directed at Birdman. He penned it when angry about a comment Birdman had made about G.O.O.D. Music. Step on they necks 'til they can't breathe
Claim they five stars, but sell you dreams
"This song is a direct response to Birdman," the rapper told Genius
. "He said 'Kanye is alright but what are the rest of them doing?' Who is this guy to speak on the dynamics of G.O.O.D. Music? We have got to be real when people talk out of line. You have to really put the reality of it all in perspective."