Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Reviews:: Kanye West - Graduation

As the tardiness of this post might indicate, I hadn't planned on reviewing Kanye's latest album. I mean really, it's been reviewed by literally a zillion (it's true, look it up) other sources and plus, the week it was released I was busy with so many other things, namely ensuring Brockway Biggs' new album got the coverage it deserved. But, now that I've finally had a chance to listen to the album, I think it does make sense that I talk about it. After all, Kanye is one of the few hip hop mega stars who makes music that the masses and the bloggers alike always check for, and so if I don't talk about him, where will all those people get their scoop? Oh right, the zillion other sources. Well, let's discuss Graduation anyway.

I suppose technically this is a review, but really, as polarizing a personality as Kanye is, I doubt anything I can say would sway anyone's opinion of him one way or another. So really this is just a few of my myriad thoughts and observations on Kanye's 3rd album. While I think the album as a whole is good, and it has plenty of good songs, I'm not sure it's going to have the same impact as his previous albums. I say that even though I think Kanye's flow has improved considerably on his latest effort. As a natural side effect of his success, Kanye's subject matter has changed, and this pvoes to be an issue, for me anyway. When he came out he was fairly unique because he was a major label guy talking about working at the Gap and struggling to make it as a producer. He still touches on some of those things, but now his main focus is on how hard it is being Kanye, even though, in true Madfox style, he firmly believes he's the best there is. While complaining that you don't get enough repect is certainly very hip hop, it tends to get old quickly.

The production on Graduation is solid, if less vast then on Late Registration. It still sounds like a Kanye album, but a little more straight ahead (other than when he's sampling Daft Punk, which I don't really mind) and instead of the sped up samples, he uses regular ole soul samples throughout the album. I also have to say that at 13 songs and with no annoying "down with college and smart people" skits, this is the way to do an album. Of course Kanye drops plenty of one liners, some are funny "you got D's mafucka, D's, Rosie Perez" (Good Morning), some are cringe-worthy "You can be my black Kate Moss tonight" (Stronger), but you can usually be sure he'll give you something to talk about. So let's run through some talking points:

- From Champion "Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion, I wish her heart was still in rhymin'". People talk about either Biggie or Tupac as the being biggest loss of MC talent, but I think Lauryn Hill should be included in that discussion. No, she isn't dead, but listening to that unplugged album she did is kind of akin to death.

- The chorus of Stronger contains references to OJ's Isotoners and Prince's old Purple Rain flame Apollonia. it strikes me as funny that junior high kids will likely be singing along with song at their dances even though they have no idea what Isotoners are or couldn't tell Apollonia from a bologna samich.

- Good Life is kind of seems like a new Touch The Sky. T-Pain sings the hook without the computer effects on his voice. Maybe he should turn them back on. I kid. No, seriously, he should turn them back on.

- Can't Tell Me Nothin' finds Kanye once again defending his "outrageous" behaviour. Honestly, if anyone doesn't think he's carfully planning these "outbursts" to help him stay in the news and sell records, well then I have a bridge or two here in Halifax to sell you.

- On Barry Bonds, Lil' Wayne sounds like he just got back from a 48 hours of making it rain with Pacman in Vegas. Kanye says something about "head so big you can't sit behind me". Kanye's head is figuratively big due to his immense ego, but Barry Bonds head is literally huge due to the copious amount of roids he's taken.

- The beat on Drunk And Hot Girls is dark and dramatic with strings galore, but this song should've been left off. Mos Def's singing makes Kanye's sing-song sound like the annoying drunk girls he's complaining about.

- I like Everything I Am, a perfect beat for a "confessional" style jam, and it feels heartfelt even though his issues aren't as serious as they once were.

- The beat on Glory is rather solid, and it's a decent song, but it's not quite as serious as D-Nice's song of the same name.

- Good news, Chris Martin of TV's Coldplay is on Homecoming! Honestly, someone needs to tell rap dudes that Coldplay isn't cool anymore. Perhaps I just did.

In the end, we all know Kanye can be a bit of a douche. Well, a lot of a douche from time to time, but I cannot deny that he makes some catchy rap music. And this album is plenty catchy. Although I've said his subject matter isn't as serious or interesting as it once was, it still remains free of drug and cap-peeling references. That's a good thing, and hopefully he'll inspire some young MC's to follow in his footsteps rather than trying to emulate the thugs like 50 cents. If you've read this far, but for some reason have yet to check out the album, I'd say it's worth a listen.

MP3:: Kanye West - Champion

MP3:: Kanye West - The Glory

Culture Bully has Kanye's SNL performance on lock:

MP3:: Kanye West (Live) - Champion/Everthing I Am/Freestyle (via Culture Bully)

MP3:: Kanye West (Live) - Stronger/The Good Life (via Culture Bully)

Posted at 11:01 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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