In most hip-hop songs, wealth is coveted and women are mistreated. It’s the “Thug ’em, f— ’em, love ’em, leave ’em” mentality, to borrow a line from Jay-Z. So it’s unusual for one of music’s kingpins to admit he’s been suckered by a woman—much less write an upbeat song about it. “Gold Digger” is lighthearted Kanye at his best: his lyrics are funny (“She was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money/ [Instead] she went to the doctor [and] got lipo with your money”) and the beat is undeniably catchy. The song’s backbone is a mixture of scratches, loops and handclaps set to follow the lyrics’ cadence. Instead of sampling Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman” directly, Kanye employs the talents of Jamie Foxx, who had starred in Ray a year earlier, to sing the part. But just when you think “Gold Digger” is nothing more than an danceable screed against money-grubbing women, Kanye throws in a story about a poor black woman who stands by her man only to see him get rich and dump her for a white girl. Everybody gets played.
(Browse the All-TIME 100 Songs and more than 100 other pop culture lists on TIME’s Populist iPad app)
Next ‘Georgia… Bush’