Kanye West – Graduation

Kanye West - GraduationWhen I heard Kanye West had another album coming like the rest of the world I was expecting high pitch sped-up samples with clever chops with the usual list of appearances. However, kanye has come back with a totally different sound for his newest offering. Sampling and chopping is still present but since his albums have progressed so has his creativeness.

From the first single you could tell that Kanye was taking to a new approach when he begins the song with a daft punk sample. “Stronger” samples ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ in the background, while being covered and lead by thick and rich synth. It is then topped by strong drums and Kanye’s usual brag raps. For fans of Kanye’s old stuff it will take a little bit to embrace it though will soon see it’s a strong song and just shows his diversity. The second song to be heard before the release “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” also is a new attempt by Mr. West. With trademark dirty south drums and light synth, you see Kanye appealing to down south fans while keeping his intact with what sounds to be sampling though really vocals from Connie Mitchell. The up and coming single “Good Life” which features the surprising appearance from T-Pain again is balance between new and old. Sampling “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”by Michael Jackson is a sample not new for West as he used it before for a Memphis Bleek song; Kanye uses new pieces while adding heavy synthesis over them. The song again sounds more down south sound while adding a different style to it.

The mixture kanye has bought is more hit then miss in my opinion. Songs such as “I Wonder” works, where it combines both samples of vocals and piano with synthesis and drums which sound very played with. It also works with“Flashing Lights” where strings and synths are used together and is finished off with Dwele’s smooth vocals.“Champion” samples Steeley Dan where he pays tribute to a few people with hits of synths here and there. “Drunk and Hot girls” however does really work and you are reaching for the skip button. It’s a shame as it was the only real promising appearance with the almighty Mos Def.

Apart from T-pain, Dwele and Mos Def there are some more guests however none the listener would expect. For“Barry Bonds” the man of the moment Lil’ Wayne joins Kanye over an animated sounding beat to brag. Chris Martin of Coldplay sings the hook to the “Homecoming” where he metaphors Chicago as a women which has reminisces of Common’s I Used To Love You especially as the first line is borrowed from his song. The beat is nicely created with piano and hard drums.

Kanye has also teamed up with Premo to create “Everything I Am” where vocals, scratching and sharp sampled piano hits makes this deep song. This is what the fans expected more of Kanye. “The Glory” which samples Laura Nyro and has strikes of strings layered on top of it is also what I feel is more expected from Mr. West.

The album hasn’t really got many topics as his previous albums though “Big Brother” finishes of the album well. Over a guitar, bass, drums and synths Kanye West pays tribute to the living legend “Jay-z” thinking of him as a big brother.

In all this album gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Even thought there is only one real bad track the album is far from perfect. Kanye has brought a different style to his last ones and progressed and tried a lot more risky things. Lyricism is still at an alright standard though doesn’t really amaze.


This album isn’t for everyone though is worth a try.

Kanye West – Late Registration

Kanye West - Late RegistrationEver since the success of sped-soul single which sampled Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire–Through the Wire–I’ve known who Kanye West is. For a while before that, Kanye’s name had been floating around as a producer for Jay-Z’s Roc-a-Fella Records, ever since The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and Jay-Z’s hit Heart of the City.

After blindsiding the rap game by selling platinum the first time around, thanks mostly to Ye’s smash single Slow Jamz with Twista and Jamie Foxx and in part his religiously oriented club banger Jesus Walks, Ye returns for a second strike at the iron with Late Registration.

LR starts off in the K West tradition of a comedian, this time Bernie Mac, telling Ye he’s going to be late for registration and he has to wake up. The track leads immediately into Heard Em Say with Adam Levine of Maroon 5; an odd combination, of course, but it does work. Its ambient piano keys, basslike horns and modest but compelling drums provide a good backing for Ye to tell us that we should enjoy our lives while we can, with Levine’s soulful crooning coming in to finish off the track.

Extravagant horns on Touch the Sky with Lupe Fiasco bring a happier mood, with talk of flyness and living it up; the second single Gold Digger brings a slight lull in the album, though even this isn’t all that bad. A hilarious skit about Ye’s fictional college fraternity “Broke Phi Broke” ensues, followed by Drive Slow with Paul Wall and GLC.

I didn’t expect much from this track, but I’m surprised at how good it is. The beat starts slow and brings in a very Chicagoan 30’s style saxophone; Kanye doesn’t disappoint, and more importantly–more surprisingly–neither does Paul Wall.

The next track, My Way Home with Common (no appearance by Ye) has a compelling deep string beat/soul sample combination, over which Common spits a verse of fire about a man who gets incarcerated and wishes to be with his family again.

Crack Music doesn’t really feature Game–no verse, he just shares a hook with Ye–but it’s a good song nonetheless. A chorus provides backing for a militant drum and horn pattern, with Kanye spitting about American drug policy and dealing narcotics on the streets (putting himself in the place of those who do it, not claiming he was ever a dealer himself). Roses, which follows, brings an emotional and saddening account of his grandmother’s hospitalization, which Ye spits over simply a string–the drums, bass and extra sounds all come in only for the chorus, with great effect.

Bring Me Down with Brandy is triumphant, Addiction is successfully experimental, and the album goes on to show us a Kanye that’s growing out of the niche in hip hop he’d created over the years. Highlights include We Major with Nas and the Diamonds remix with Jay-Z; expanding his boundaries with LR sounds great, and moving away from the sped-soul was definitely a good move.

El Rating – 4.5/5 (Really *****in Good)

Recommendation – Download this to preview (Kanye doesn’t mind), then go buy it.

Kanye West – The College Dropout

Kanye West - The College DropoutRelease Date: February 10, 2004 The College Dropout Record Label: Roc-A-Fella

01.) “Intro”
Produced by Kanye West

02.) “We Don’t Care” (4.5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
This was the perfect track to kick-off “The College Dropout”. Kanye sums it up perfectly by spittin’, “If this is your first time hearing this/You are about to experience somethin’ so cold man!”. This track perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Kanye’s lyrical performance is awfully reminiscent to that of Talib Kweli’s classic “Get By”… which KanyeWest produced.

03.) “Graduation Day” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

04.) “All Falls Down” (feat. Syleena Johnson) (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
 West puts on an outstanding lyrical performance over his outstanding production. Kanye tells the tale of the “Self Conscious” tendencies of young people. The line “Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis (A Lexus)” basically sums-up the plot of the track. If this isn’t considered classic material then I don’t know what is.

05.) “I’ll Fly Away” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

06.) “Spaceship” (feat. Consequence and GLC) (4.5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
“If my manager insults me again I will be assaulting him/After I ***** the manager up then I’m gonna shorten the register up!”. If you can’t relate to Kanye’s verse on this track… then you probrobly have never held a job. Consequence and GLC also drop great verses over another one of Kanye’s signature sped-up samples.

07.) “Jesus Walks” (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
This is one of my personal favorites featured on “The College Dropout”. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll see why I say that this will end-up as a
contender for 2004’s best lyrical performance. Kanye’s production perfectly fits the theme of this track. This is nothing short of outstanding…

08.) “Never Let Me Down” (feat. J. Ivy and Jay-Z) (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
The production on this track is Grammy-worthy. Kanye West drops an absolutly outstanding verse on this track. Jay-Z drops two outstanding
verses aswell. As-a-matter-of-fact… it’s difficult to decide who drops the better verse on this track… it’s very impressive that Kanye West can
hang with Jay-Z lyrically. J. Ivy drops a lyrical gem on this track also. It’s rather confusing though… it’s difficult to make-out whether J. Ivy is just speaking or rhyming. If he’s infact rhyming then he really needs to work on his flow.

09.) “Get ‘Em High” (feat. Common and Talib Kweli) (4.8 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
This may be the best production featured on “The College Dropout”. It also sounds different than any other production featured on the album. If you ask me… Common is HANDS-DOWN the star of “Get ‘Em High”. Hopefully his lyrical performance on this track will give him some of the respect he deserves. Kanye West and Talib Kweli (more-soKanye) both drop great verses. But for some reason I’m a little dissapointed with Kweli’s verse.

10.) “Workout Plan” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

11.) “The New Workout Plan” (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
The production alone on this track easily rates at a “5”. I also love the overall originality of the production. I especially love Bosko’s talk-box drop on this track. Everything about this track is irrisistibly catchy… and when I say catchy… I mean catchy. Good luck getting this track out of your head.

12.) “Slow Jamz” (feat. Jamie Foxx and Twista) (4.8 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
The production and the hook on this track easily rates at a “5”. Twista’s flow on this track is also next-to perfect. What’s great about this track is that it’s so damn original. The only reason that I couldn’t find myself to give this track a perfect rating was due to Kanye West’s lyrical performance. It’s by no means wack or even half-way bad… I simply think that it could have been better.

13.) “Breathe In Breathe Out” (feat. Ludacris) (4.2 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
Let me start by saying that Kanye’s lyrical performance on this track is arguably his best overall lyrical performance featured on “The College Dropout”. “Eventhough I went to College and dropped outta school quick/I always has a P.H.D…. A Pretty Huge Dick!” and “Baby I fully understand let me help you out with a plan/While he trickin’ off don’t get no rich nigga/Give me some head that’ll really piss him off!” will easily end-up being two of the best punch lines of the year 2004. The production on this track is nice and Ludacris does a pretty nice job with the hook. I’m still dissapointed that Ludacris didn’t drop a verse on this one… it could’ve taken this track to that next level.

14.) “School Spirit, Skit 1” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

15.) “School Spirit” (4.2 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
 West drops a couple nice verses over one of his signature sped-up samples on this track. This is another track that you’ll find stuck in your head in a matter of days… “School Spirit Muthaaa Fuuuccckkkaaa…”

16.) “School Spirit, Skit 2” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

17.) “Lil’ Jimmy” (interlude)
Produced by Kanye West

18.) “Two Words” (feat. Freeway, Mos Def and the Harlem Boys Choir) (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
Once again creativity reigns supreme on this classic track. Mos Def does an outstanding job proving why he may be the most under-rated MC in Hip-Hop. Freeway and Kanye West also drop outstanding verses over the amazing production of Kanye West. It doesn’t get too much better than this… What more can I say?

19.) “Through The Wire” (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
I feel as though I don’t even half to justify why I’m calling this track a classic… for the simple reason that if you’ve heard it you should feel the same as me about this track. Everything about this track is a picture of perfection.

20.) “Family Business” (4.5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
The production on this track is top-notch. This track will send you down memory lane… it’ll also make you suddenly want to be around your extended family.

21.) “Last Call” (5 out of 5)
Produced by Kanye West
“Killin’ y’all niggas on that lyrical shit/Mayonaisse colored Benz I push Miracle Whips!”… if you aren’t feeling that line then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. The lyrical performance, the production and the overall concept of “Last Call” is nothing short of classic material. I can sit through the entire twelve mintues and forty seconds of this track without feeling the urge to hit the stop button.


This album may be one of the greatest debuts in the history of Hip-Hop. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that “The College Dropout” is nothing short of a classic. The album contains absolutly no filler-material or “skipper tracks”; I can honestly say that I’ve never skipped a single track on the album… I even love the skits because they serve a purpose. The creativity and the quality of this album is simply un-matched in today’s Hip-Hop scene. From the second I first heard “Through The Wire” I couldn’t wait for this album to drop. I’m glad to say that this album is everything I expected it to be… and MORE! If you don’t own this album then please (for your own sake) go out RIGHT NOW and pick-up a copy of “The College Dropout”… you’ll thank me. Kanye West is more than just an outstanding producer… He’s the savior of Hip-Hop!

FINAL RATING: 5 out of 5