Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kanye West / "Graduation"

Listening to "Graduation", I experienced something I had previously never felt while listening to a Kanye West album: boredom. On initial listen, only one song caught my attention ("Can't Tell Me Nothing") and even that track was nothing exceptional, especially when compared to the best tracks from West's previous two albums. There's no "Jesus Walks". There's no "Gone". In fact, there's nothing close. Not only are the peaks not as high, there are far fewer of them. There's the aforementioned "Nothing", but nothing else captivates at all, though "Champion" and "Stronger" are interesting failures for attempting to incorporate dance music into the West arsenal.

Not only are the strengths lacking, but his failures are as evident as ever. Kanye has never been a great MC. In fact, most times he's a below-average one, and "Graduation" not only fails to be an exception, it's his worst rhyming to date. Take "I'll never be picture perfect Beyonce / Be light as Al B., or black as Chauncey. / Remember him from Blackstreet? / He was as black as the street was." or this gem: "Heard they'd do anything for a Klondike. / Well I'd do anything for a blonde-dike." His gift, and what had made his two previous albums outstanding, was his ability to create a variety of outstanding beats. It just doesn't happen here. He even notes at the beginning of "Everything I Got" that Common rejected the song's beat (assumably on his latest album "Finding Forever").

The question now posed is what's next for Kanye? With the exception of Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, critics were seemingly less favorable to Chicago's top-selling MC. Sure, he won the sales battle with 50 Cent and moved nearly a million units in the process, but is he on track to become another rapper reduced to artistic mediocrity after a phenomenal start (see: Mobb Deep)? For a rapper who claims to know "what it takes to be number one", he's starting to sound pretty generic. It's a shame. It was fun while it lasted, Ye.

Rating: 5.8


The_Janitor said...

I thought the album was solid, not great. I'd give it a 7.5. I thought "Good Morning", "Can't Tell Me Nothing", "Everything I Am", "Homecoming", "Champion" and "Good Life" were all solid tracks. It's definatly better than the vast majority of rap and hip hop albums out right now.

showtime inc. said...

yeah at first I wasn't really sure but then I listened to it some more and I liked the songs listed above. And wait you cant hate on Stronger, sweetest song ever. I really like Homecoming though, great track. I would agree it is his worst album but I think 5.8 is a little harsh. I'd go 7 or 7.5 at least. It was decent - fairly solid - but not out of this world.

Kid C said...

The way I see it, an album that is relatively bland is deserving of a 4 or a 5. Kanye's new album, to me anyway, is only slightly better than that. Stand alone, it's not bad, but compared to other fairly-recent hip-hop albums like Clipse's "Hell Hath No Fury", Lil Wayne's "Dedication 2", anything by Dizzee Rascal, and West's "Late Registration", it really does seem as meek as my score indicates.

Zach...right? said...

no mention of Drunk and Hot Girls?
hukriede i figured that'd be your jam.

Zach...right? said...

oh and also, it's a little more basic of an album but if you listen to it more you get into it. tracks 3 through 9 are all solid. Barry Bonds is great. i think this album is meant to be a little more humorous than his last two. And obviously it went in a different direction, most of if not all of this was recorded in Japan and you can hear that influence in the lyrics and in the songs just as easily. "Bape shit." And that goofy ass japanese dude singing in the background of a couple songs. It's a different album for Kanye, but at least it's not the same old songs with random samples.