Thursday, September 13, 2007

Graduation Day

There’s a lot going on in sports that I could address: Rick Ankiel/Troy Gloss/Jay Gibbons, the Patriots Cheating, College Football, NFL, etc. However, I have to take a small commercial break from the ordinary to offer my thoughts on the new Kanye album.

On Facebook, it seems like every day more of my friends are changing their profile picture to the album cover, using a line from the album as their status, or both. He’s going to easily outsell 50 Cent (who, at least in America, started to fall off after The Massacre), and even had some of his new tracks played during the breaks on Monday Night Football.

That brings me to this question: Was I the only person disappointed by Graduation? I must admit, I was still caught up in the hype while listening to the Can’t Tell Me Nothin mixtape when a friend of mine pointed out a good point. “Kanye sucks now,” he said. I thought about it, said no, and kept bumping the album.

That conversation did help me realize that Kanye definitely isn’t as good as he used to. Lyrically, Graduation is a dud. When College Dropout dropped, Kanye’s lyrics were a mix of social commentary, every man rhymes (opposed to the ultra hustler persona that was still popular) witty, boastful punchlines, humorous quotables and concept songs, along with a look into his life and journey into the music business and of course the skits.

Late Registration offered more of the same. Even though it wasn’t the classic College Dropout was, it still was one of the best albums to come out that year. Now, it seems like he’s run out of stuff to talk about. On Graduation, he really doesn’t talk about anything moving. In addition, his rhymes are average for most of the album. On the positive side, the music is A+ quality, making it a good album to ride to, at least for the time being.

That said, the album is only disappointing because he dropped a hip-hop classic and followed it up with a Grade Album, while this one is in the B range.

1. Good Morning – Where’s the skits? This album has no skits, which is kind of disappointing. This intro is pretty decent, the beat is hot and he has a few lines.

2. Champion – This song is a little boring. He chronicles some of his struggles along with some other socio-political commentary. The one thing missing from this song is the soul feel we usually get from Kanye. This song could’ve used a boost of soul to make it more enjoyable to listen to.

3. Stronger – The Daft Punk sample was crazy, and this song is one of the more creative rap songs to come out in recent years. Too bad it’s getting played out.

4. I Wonder – The first time I heard this song I thought two things. First was this might be his best beat ever. Second was, “Did he even rap on this?” The beat is so hard that you can’t even say he wasted it on a song he barely rapped on.

5. Good Life – I hate T-Pain, so maybe I should just keep it moving.

6. Can’t Tell Me Nothing – The beat was crazy on this record too, which over shadows the fact that he pretty much isn’t rapping about anything. Fortunately for him, nobody else is rapping about much either.

7. Barry Bonds – Once again, the beat is crazy. Too bad the “best rapper alive” himself Lil’ Wayne spit his worst verse ever behind two wack Kanye verses.

8. Drunk and Hot Girls – This song is probably the one most criticized from the album. However, I like it. Mos Def is one of my favorite, the beat is a little weird, but ‘Ye came through on this one, at least theme wise. This could’ve been the college guy/young dude anthem.

9. Flashing Lights – Decent love track, moderately boring.

10. Everything I Am – The beat is so hard, yet Kanyeezy doesn’t deliver lyrically. I have no clue why Common didn’t use this beat, but I’m guessing he figured it would’ve been hard for him to make a love song out of it.

11. The Glory – By far the best song on the album. This is the only record that actually has the classic Kanye formula: soul + rhymes = G.O.O.D. music.

12. Homecoming – Chris Martin of Coldplay came through with an Elton John like beat, and also did a good job on the hook. However, all true Kanye fans remembers “Home,” which is 10 times better than this remake.

13. Big Brother – Probably the second best song on the album, featuring another Kanye formula that he strayed away from too much on this album: hard beat + interesting personal story = G.O.O.D. music.

14. Goodnight (bonus track) – The better of the two joints he did with Mos, definitely should’ve made the final cut. It’s a shame that so many people won’t hear this one.

15. Bittersweet Poetry (bonus track) – This one should’ve made the last album. It’s definitely a Late Registration track, with Jon Brion’s handprints all over the beat. John Mayer doesn’t have as big of a part as they made it seem, but Kanye’s brutally honest love story makes this one of his best tracks ever.

Final Grade – With bonus tracks B+, without bonus tracks B

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