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    Kanye West


    Graduation ( 2007 )
    Good Morning / Champion / Stronger / I Wonder / Good Life / Can't Tell Me Nothing / Barry Bonds / Drunk And Hot Girls / Flashing Lights / Everything I Am / The Glory / Homecoming / Big Brother

    Kanye West. His rhymes aren't always the best and he's certainly not the finest rapper that mankind has ever produced. He's always had something though, loads of awards for 'College Dropout' and 'Late Registration' perhaps go some way to proving that. 'Graduation' as a title is clearly following a theme and has been hailed in some quarters as a disappointment. It doesn't disappoint me, this is one of the finest and most cool sounding rap/hip-hop albums this year, no question. On the downside, it doesn't really appear to be about anything as such, as if he's gone all out of his way not to offend anybody. I mean, he's offended enough people in the past with his music and his statements and actions, but 'Graduation' is just a fairly straight release, lyrically unambitious. His flow is okay, he fills up the songs as they should be, but it's as a producer that he really shines. These songs have consistently inventive and interesting backdrops that will keep you coming back time and again. True, 'Stronger' takes off 'Daft Punk' but the finished product is more than the sum of its parts. 'Stronger' is actually an addictive, almost spooky thing, thanks to the 80s keyboard sounds. I love the sampled 'backing' vocals in 'I Wonder' that just detroys any notion at all that Kanye West could ever be cheesy or pop/rap novelty, aka so many other rap artists at the moment. It's a seriously good piece, very well constructed and he raps very well here, too.

    If 'Graduation' actually is about anything at all, it's Kanye's growing realisation of his own place near the top of the rap pile and trying to keep his ego in check. So, he does end up resorting to the odd rap cliche of 'i'm better than you' kind of thing, but other tunes seem more self-searching. I'm not sure at the moment he knows how long he'll have the drive, or whether success will actually wipe out his edge. It's not a problem at the moment, but he does seem self-aware, which is good. Oh, the guest spots. Lil Wayne tries his best to ruin 'Barry Bonds', one of the least distinguished tunes here in any case. Disturbingly, this is followed by the crass 'Drunk And Hot Girls' feat Mos Def. Kanye doesn't need to go down this route. Up til now, he's stayed fresh, you know? Still things improve. An unlikely collaboration with Coldplay's Chris Martin produces 'Homecoming', an addictively weird hybrid of styles, it's fair to say. Not sure how Rap fans will appreciate Chris Martin. Not at all probably, and vice versa with Coldplay fans, yet I like this tune a lot. Kanye does a slower tune with 'Everything I Am' and manages to make it sound nice and sincere. 'The Glory' drops some heavy beats and the closing 'Big Brother' finishes things with no kind of conclusion. Well, more is to come, for sure.

    So, 'Graduation'? It's not without its faults but i'm prepared to overlook a lot of them. At 51 minutes the album is free from 'intro's' or annoying skits. Only a couple of tunes fall flat and that's not a bad ratio considering the start of the album in particularly is so very strong. I like it more than I expected to, given the hype and all the 50 cent nonsense. This is the winner for me.

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    Readers Comments

    Adrian, you generally seem like a knowledgeable reviewer, but this review just piles up cliches to hide that you in fact have little knowledge of what you are talking about. Compiling the opinions of other people and throwing in a few general observations does not a review make! Forget about hip hop and stick to pop, rock and the other musical styles that you actually have own insights to share about...

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    this page last updated 11/03/08

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