Kanye West is not considered a humble man. His enormous ego could make a pimp look like the 40-year-old virgin. But ever since his “College Dropout” debut in 2004, West has provided us a considerable reason behind his character – his undeniable talent in music.
‘Graduation’ is West’s third album; following his sophomore smash ‘Late Registration’ in 2005. West elevates the creativity in his music with every record he makes, and ‘Graduation’ is arguably his best effort yet. Ditching all the previous ‘skit’ tracks, West delivers a unique, synthesizer-filled and futuristic sound that begs you for another listen. And it gets better each time.
The ceremony opens up with ‘Good Morning’, a bass-pounding intro that demands attention to West’s lyrical delivery as he opens up with, “Wake up Mr. West, Mr. Fresh, Mr?by himself he’s so impressed.” We all should know that by now. “Champion” signifies the familiar Kanye West soul-filled beat, with a sample derived from the song “Charlemagne” by Steely Dan.
‘Graduation’ then hits us with its second single, ‘Stronger’. West intricately added his own mix to Daft Punk’s techno wonder, “Harder, Better, Faster.” He then takes us back to his soulful melodies with the U2 inspired song, “I Wonder”.
“Big Brother” is West’s ode to his mentor and boss, Def Jam executive Sean “Jay Z” Carter. The track features West in an oddly sincere moment, for once, giving another artist a great amount of credit for their work.
“Good Life” is simply a monster hit in the making. With the hook sung by T-Pain, samples from Michael Jackson’s “PYT” and head-bopping bass hits, West definitely gives us a distinct taste of the good life. The ninth track, “Flashing Lights”, is arguably the most original and best record on the album. The beat is nothing but mesmerizing, as R’B singer Dwele provides a hypnotizing chorus with West’s lyrical flow.
Speaking of lyrics, it wouldn’t be Kanye West without him talking about, well, Kanye West. His charismatic ego resonates with almost every song in the album as he admits his “?head is so big you can’t sit behind me” on his “Barry Bonds” track with Southern rapper Lil Wayne. Mos Def also lends his mic on the surprisingly weary track, “Drunk and Hot Girls”, and even Coldplay’s Chris Martin in ‘Homecoming.’
West seems to be at his lyrical best when he’s his own subject, such as in his first single, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, as he brags, “If the devil wears Prada, Adam Eve wears nada, I’m in between but way more fresha?”
However, just as with any ego-inflated individual, you hope he could just stop talking about himself at times. West’s bragging just saturates his lyrical skills with redundancy in ‘Graduation’. The album lacks the quirky wit found in ‘Gold Digger’ (We want pre-nup!) or the emotional carriage of ‘Jesus Walks’. But all together, ‘Graduation’s thirteen tracks gives a more fluid and tighter experience than West’s previous work.
Other than his minor lyrical shortcomings, West has yet again delivered a fresh, unique lesson in hip-hop with his third album. As a rapper and producer, West is among the many talents that pulses a new life into hip-hop today. So turn that tassel to the other side and throw your hats in the air, graduation has arrived early thanks to Mr. West.
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