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.