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Kanye West‘s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is regarded by many to be his best album, thanks in large part to singles including the star-studded “All of the Lights.” But despite the song bringing together some of the biggest names in music, Ye himself had a forgettable studio session recording it.

Kanye West, who has a new song with Cardi B
Kanye West | Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Kanye West recorded ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ after the Taylor Swift incident

When Kanye West started working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2009, he was public enemy number one after infamously interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.

He flew himself and his collaborators to Hawai’i and by the end of the following year, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was out.

For the album’s fourth and final single, “All of the Lights,” Kanye recruited a wide array of performers to contribute vocals to the song, including Rihanna, Drake, John Legend, The-Dream, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, Elton John, and La Roux.

Kanye fell asleep while recording ‘All of the Lights’

Producer The-Dream reflected on his experience recording the song in a 2022 interview with Nile Rodgers on his Apple Music show, Deep Hidden Meaning Radio with Nile Rodgers. The-Dream was working with Beyoncé at the time when Kanye dropped by.

“’All of The Lights,’ oh man, wow, ‘All of the Lights,'” he said. “I was doing 4 in New York for [Beyoncé]. We were working on 4 and Kanye happened to come by the studio. And Ye didn’t know I was there and he is like, ‘Oh, happy you’re here. I got something I want you to listen to and see if you can put a hook on this thing.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, cool. Let me hear it.’ And this track came on. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ I knew instantly exactly what I wanted to do, instantly.”

“So, we got the booth working, brought the engineer down, recorded. And after the first take, which ended up being the song that you hear now, he said, ‘Nah, nah, nah, nah, try another one,'” Dream continued. “Like, ‘Okay. All right.’ Got another one. ‘Oh, try another one, Dream.’ It’s like, ‘Okay.'”

The-Dream — and Beyoncé — soon realized that Kanye had dozed off. “I got to like number eight of the song I did. I look out, Kanye West is sleep. And I’m like, I’m looking through the glass like, ‘Yo, is he asleep?'” he said. “B’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kind of knocked out.’ I’m like, ‘What?'”


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Beyoncé helped choose the hook for the song

Kanye falling asleep ended up being a boon for the song, as Beyoncé herself helped The-Dream pick which take to use on the track.

“She’s like, ‘Actually, Dream, the first hook, that was the one.’ I was like, ‘I knew it. I knew that was the one,’ and so, that ended up being the one that Rihanna sings to this day,” he said. “But that was so hilarious. I’m on idea number eight. He’s been asleep since idea number three.”