Kanye West- Graduation (an RTH Review)

KWest

Chin up, Mr. West. You’ve done it again.

In fall of 2003 my family and I were losing our house. Citibank, the cocksuckers, had loop-holed us into foreclosure and the atmosphere was tense and miserable.

Because sleep didn’t come easily thanks to stress, depression, and Apnea, I’d be up late nites flipping channels.  

On one such nite I landed on MTV2 in the middle of a video to a song called “Through The Wire” by a guy who I knew as one of Roc-A-Fella records’ in-house producers. Some guy named Kanye West.

I was hooked right away. The chorus, the lyrics, the candid & personal images included in the video made me smile, made my mind buzz off this new experience.

Eventually I had my friend burn the song onto a CD. However, the only version he could find was a snippet of just the first verse, looped twice to make people think it was the full song. It didn’t matter. We played that motherfucker like our lives depended on it.

Fast Forward almost 4 years and Kanye West is back, still making music that inspires me, thrills me, and excites me [||] as a fan of music–and as someone whose days go from sunny to grey quite often, and sometimes needs the fuel to make it from sunshine to sunshine.

Here is my review of Mr. West’s 3rd album, “Graduation”.

Let’s start with the beats- As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a picky fuck when it comes to beats. I hate 90% of the beats out there right now as they all sound like some wannabe Neptunes fuckery, or they’re annoying synth Timba-Bland nonsense, or they’re 808 monstrosities designed to make peoples rearview mirror’s shake. Thankfully, Kanye and his collaborators (DJ Toomp, Nottz, a couple others) embrace musicality over BOOM BOOM BOOMBOOMBOOM noise and nonsense. Synths run wild, drums hit big, and Kanye is once again spot on mit der samples he chooses. ‘Ye keeps it both funky and familiar at the same time, showcasing his evolution.

Fave Beat- “Good Life”.

But How is Dem Rhymes, Uncle The Hussein?- In a word–in 6 words–Dem Rhymes is Clever as Fuck. There is debate all over the internets about whether or not Kanye West writes his own stuff. After hearing him freestyle off the top (pause?) a few times, I think I’ve pegged what’s him and what’s not. I’d say about 85% of his stuff is all him, 10% is him and a ghostwriter working together, and 5% is just plain written for him. On this album, however, I’d say this was all Mr. West. His rhyme patterns are mostly the same even as he successfully varies up his cadences and his inflections. His wordplay has gotten better–his slick plays on words and his ability to cleverly “ign’ant up” a bigger word to fit in a rhyme are sharper than Dubya’s nose. While not as “Yamo show ya’ll I can rap” as on The College Dropout and not as “Take that, fuckers!” as on Late Registration, ‘Ye manages to hone his lyrics into an amalgam of both, while showing growth and development. (No awkward 5th grade assembly on our changing bodies).

Fave Verse- “The Glory”. Like, the whole song.

Who he got on the album? They aight?- T-Pain, Lil’ Wayne, Mos Def, Dwele, Chris Martin, & DJ Premiere all help out on this album. T-Pain turns in another good performance, helping ‘Ye look smart with another “risky” collabo that totally works (ie Freeway & Mos Def on “Two Words” from TCD and Paul Wall & Maroon 5 Guy on “Drive Slow” and “Heard ‘Em Say” respectively, both songs off of LR). Lil’ Wayne’s verse is good and didn’t distract but it was not great: too much of that stupid “look how clever I am” chuckle, not enough quotables. Mos Def’s singing amuses me, he sounds like Wyclef singing with a kindergarten class. I’d have preferred a Mos rappin’ verse, but I’m not mad a’tall at him. Dwele sang just fine. Not much to say about that. Premo’s scratches were cool, and like on Common’s “The Game”, I enjoyed said scratches. It’s nice to hear scratches on a song–it’s a rare treat in today’s hip-hop world. Chris Martin does his Coldplay thing here. I enjoyed his work on this, as I did on his “Beach Chair” collaboration with Jay-Z on Kingdom Come.

Fave Collabo- ‘Ye & Mos Def. (they were also good on “Goodnight”, a song that was left off this album–you can d/l it tho’, I won’t tell.)

Cool. Anything else?- Kanye West is a millionaire. His spot in the game, in rap history was solidified after his 2nd album. His work on The Blueprint alone would have him included in barbershop and online discussions from now until Jay-Z’s last album. (think about it). He has an incredible ear for new sounds, for creating hip-hop music that doesn’t just defy boundaries, but rather it walks right up to those boundaries and says “You ever fuck with my little brother again, and so help me God, I will end you.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kanye West makes anthems. He doesn’t make music for millionaires or for bullies or wannabes. He makes music for the common man or woman trying to get through their day. To make it to their Graduation, be that a commencement from being poor, being hurt, being taken for granted, or for being told “Give up on your dreams because life isn’t fair.” Long story slightly less long: He makes music you can believe in. Music you can trust.

Overall Rating- Here at It Ain’t That Serious, we’ve given a lot of thought about what kind of rating we would use on our reviews. I can’t do mics, t-shirt sizes are just silly, and stars are boring. I’ve chosen to use: Boobs.

A Cup = Terrible. Aural Herpes.

B Cup = Ehh, has it’s moments.

C Cup = Just over the line into “Good territory”.

D Cup = Enjoyment has been attained. Brag to your buddies.

DD Cup = Perfection. Line up for High 5s, you lucky bastard.

That being said, I’m giving Kanye West’s Graduation a DD Cup rating.

Even though you have achieved perfection, Mr. West, it is us–the fans–who are the lucky bastards.

–RTH

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36 Responses to “Kanye West- Graduation (an RTH Review)”

  1. Babydoll Says:

    Co-sign all the way Rey ;o) And thanks for shouting out Nottz as one of the producing collaboraters that’s really about the art of music these days. That’s my peoples!!!

  2. Babydoll Says:

    Oh and by the way, did I mention I was first??? YAY!

  3. G7 Says:

    review is too bias. Not a perfect album.

  4. Plug Says:

    this song is better than any song on ye’s

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilRfTq9exwY

  5. reythehussein Says:

    @ Babydoll– No problem, and congrats on your Firstness!

    @ Siete– lol.. Indeed it might be. Plenty of reviews out there tho’, this is just mine. I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

    @ Plug Industries– Hmm.. I’m gonna choose to ignore that. Sorry Plug!

  6. Babydoll Says:

    @Rey.

    Thanks! And I just realized that me having the first two posts and co-signing what you said only adds to the conspiracy theory that you and I are the same. SMH! I hope none of the critics catch on to that…

  7. reythehussein Says:

    lol– Well, now that you mentioned it of course they are!

    I wouldn’t sweat it tho’–we both know we’re not we both.

    *rey’s eyes cross*

  8. Babydoll Says:

    LMAO

  9. Soul Says:

    Cocaine’s a helluva drug!

    The album is cool, but perfect score?! You crazy for this one Rey!

  10. reythehussein Says:

    Crazy LIKE A FOX!

  11. cMac Says:

    how did i know you were gonna give it a DD cup?

    If College Dropout or LAte Registation was a DD cup, this album cannot compete

  12. reythehussein Says:

    College Dropout and Late Registration are both DD Cup for real.

    ‘Ye’s 3-3 in terms of making great albums that all have different sounds/themes.

    Jeah.

  13. Big Homie Says:

    Album is crack. Great post and review. DD Cup Rosie Perez??

  14. reythehussein Says:

    Big Homie Says:

    September 11th, 2007 at 3:40 pm edit

    Album is crack. Great post and review. DD Cup Rosie Perez??

    ^^^

    lol, why not? Thanks Big Homie!

  15. Vizion Says:

    a perfect huh?….i might have to re-listen now. I dig a lot of it but some i had to skip thru

  16. Dr.Fuxie Teacher of Etherology Says:

    Yo Rey, damn if I said you were one for Hyperbole, that would be an understatement. Sheesh its a great album but not better than his previous two.

  17. T.R.E.Y. Says:

    what’re you talkin’ ’bout with “wannabe Neptunes?” there’s a difference between some of the budget-ass synth beats out right now and the great shit they’ve done.

    hatin’ on Timbaland too, c’mon now. to me, Timbaland/Danjahandz’s recent production and ‘Ye’s on this album are two things where people’re jez hatin’ if they say they don’t like it.

    i agree though, i’m thinkin’ this is his best album. i love Late Registration but i think this’s like a tighter version of that. with its own style ‘course.

  18. Rasheed Wallets Says:

    … stop lying, it aint that great … good lp, at best … not perfect at all …

    … ROSS Bldg., nicka !! …

  19. reythehussein Says:

    ~~In Reverse~~

    @ RashWall– Sonderling > Ross..

    @ T.R.E.Y.– Just for the record, to anyone who is headed down that road, REY and T.R.E.Y. are TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE! That being said: Even tho’ I’m not “fans” of either tandem, I like a handful of Neptunes stuff and a handful of TimbaDanja stuff.. Like I said, I’m a picky fuck when it comes to beats–I’m big on strings, live instruments, or synths when they’re very well done or catchy.. As for the “its own style” part, that’s what I’m talking about. You can’t really compare all 3 ‘Ye albums with each other because they’re so different.. Thanks for the comment.

    @ Fuxito– Eh, I get a bit zealous, but that’s me. I don’t cop CDs unless I’m already a fan, or I’ve learned enough about an artist to make me know I’m gonna enjoy they’re music.. Sooo, a lot of my reviews are gonna be raves because I only cop music I like. I’m not gonna be like certain no-necked cynics and review everything in the world just so I can spout off some jaded hateration at it.

    @ Vizion– Yeppers, I enjoyed everything about this album. Even “Drunk and Hot Girls” and all it’s weirdness.

  20. Belize Says:

    Good review but I hate the Tpain collab

  21. reythehussein Says:

    @ Beli– Ack! I really like that one!

  22. State of Grace Says:

    Good stuff Rey, (No awkward 5th grade assembly on our changing bodies) had me dying. Thanks for checking my site out too, I’m planning on reviewing Graduation and Curtis (assuming I can download a dirty version, I can’t even listen to the edited one) very soon, maybe tonight. First I gotta hit the books though, so I can graduate myself someday.

  23. EnglandRepresent Says:

    Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. I still have’nt listened to this. I need this yesterday please peoples. nickcoates27@yahoo.co.uk Reymond can’t you just zshare that shit and send it to me? I know you got the technical know how chieftain (nhjic). I hope this is better than Late Registration, I bumped that at the weekend and it reaffirmed my disappointment in that record. I see ya Rey Rey.

  24. reythehussein Says:

    @ EngRep– I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no Z-Shares.. It’s only 13 tracks, I’ll just e-mail them to you. I know it’s a pain but at least you’ll have it.

    Of course, you’ll still have to cop the retail when you can, or else I’ll be forced to do a post called “England Represent is a cross-dressing baby seal clubber”.

  25. T DOT Says:

    “Drunk and Hot Girls” is getting skipped only because “Flashing Lights” is RIGHT BEHIND IT, and battles “The Glory” for best song on the entire thing.

    I’ma review it hopefully tonight.
    Stay tuned.

  26. reythehussein Says:

    Cool, looking forward to it.

  27. Sepecialistbeats Says:

    Top Notch Review…and i feel the same about that Through the wire joint…it’s an unexplainable classic feel!

  28. reythehussein Says:

    Thanks Fam.. Yeah, something about that song.. Only like, “Juicy”, “Triumph, and “Keep ya head up” gimme the same vibe, and that’s some good company to be in.

    Props on the beats on your mi espacio page too.

    –RTH

  29. superjew Says:

    your rating system is classic material. funny shit. i dont agree its a flawless album but ill overlook that on the account of your cleverness.

  30. reythehussein Says:

    Thanks SuperJew.

    Tell me. Are you an actual jew or are you just being clever?

  31. reythehussein Says:

    Thanks SuperJew.

    Tell me. Are you an actual jew or are you just being clever?

  32. superjew Says:

    a little bit of both. moms a catholic pos is a jew . the left side of my body is jewish, the right side is down with christ. im right handed tho. keeps the posts up. theyre kinda refreshing compared to all the other hip hop blogs nowadays. 1

  33. reythehussein Says:

    lol, Thanks for the breakdown.

    I appreciate the props. I’m trying to turn this thing into something special.

    [||]

  34. Rey’s Artist of the Year for 2007: Kanye West - Chicken Wings, Ya’ll Says:

    [...] Graduation was released on 9/11/2007. Rey rejoiced’n’reviewed. Kanye not only released another incredible album, he managed to do it with a cohesive theme, an [...]

  35. Summer of KanyEight: A Retropackle - Chicken Wings, Ya’ll Says:

    [...] Or, Mr. West’s Life After Graduation. [...]

  36. the best songs 808's and Heartbreak Says:

    On Kanye West’s Bitter, Bone-Chilling 808s & Heartbreak…

    Kanye West went to classify 808s & Heartbreak as a pop album, stating his disdain towards the contemporary backlash to the concept of pop music and showed admiration for what some pop stars have accomplished in their careers….

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