Did Kanye West Write “Gold Digger” After Seeing Jamie Foxx Play Ray Charles in Ray?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Kanye West wrote “Gold Digger” after seeing Jamie Foxx play Ray Charles in “Ray.”

“Gold Digger” was a massive hit single by Kanye West that came out in 2005. You practically couldn’t go anywhere in the late Summer/early Fall of 2005 without hearing this tune on the radio (I was on a road trip down to Washington DC from New York that August and we literally heard it six times on five different stations in an hour – yes, one station played it more than once in an hour!).

The song samples the classic Ray Charles hit “I Got a Woman”…

Jamie Foxx sings the Charles parts of the song, which is interpolated throughout the song.

Foxx, of course, won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Charles in the 2004 film, Ray.

So naturally, folks believed that West wrote the song after seeing Foxx in Ray. Is that true?

West actually wrote the song a number of years earlier (before the Ray film even began pre-production), with the intention of giving it to a female rapper.

When rapper Shawnna decided to pass on the track, West sat on it until 2005, when he decided to re-write the tune, which was originally from a female’s perspective (presumably a “Gold Digging” woman).

Around THIS time, West HAD seen the film Ray, and yes, his viewing of the film inspired him to add the Charles sample and have Foxx sing that part of the song.

However, the song was written first.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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