Dilly's Albums: Kanye West

Welcome back!  Review #3 on the list of DIlly’s albums marks the first time that a hip-hop is reviewed.  I wish I could’ve started out with a better album to review, but hey that’s the luck of the draw.

Today’s review for Dilly’s Albums is…

Kanye West - Graduation

Review: #3

Released: 2007

Wikipedia Synopsis: (Full article)

Graduation is the third studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released September 11, 2007 on Roc-A-Fella Records in the United States. Recording sessions for the album took place during 2005 to 2007 at Chung King Studios and Sony Music Studios in New York City and at Chalice Studios and The Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. It was primarily produced by West and DJ Toomp, and features guest contributions from artists including Mos Def, Dwele, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, and Chris Martin of Coldplay. The album’s cover artwork was designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

Discovery:  I had both of Kanye’s first two albums in my collection.  Only natural to give this one a listen and add it.  There was also a lot of hype at the time as this album release coincided with 50 Cent’s Curtis (an album that was added and then quickly dropped from my collection).

Ranking:  Kanye’s first three albums are currently in rotation in my iTunes collection.  Out of those three, I would have to say this ranks last.

Rating: 2 stars

Favorites:  Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Everything I Am, Homecoming

I’m a big fan of Kanye’s first two albums, however I find that this album strays away from the higher standards that he had for his first two albums.

When Kanye West first hit the scene he really interested me.  Being a protege of Jay-Z instantly made me interested, and the fact that he was in a car crash and dropped some tracks with his mouth wired shut (that didn’t sound like crap) was impressive.  On his first two albums Kanye did a good job of mixing hip-hop and dance style tracks that flowed well together.

On Graduation, Kanye definitely moved towards the more dance-style tracks.  He drew a lot of inspiration from bands such as U2 to do more “anthemic, inspirational music”.  Kanye produced most of this album and included a lot of synth in many of the tracks which I’m really not a big fan of.  Also a gratuitous use of auto-tune on some of the tracks didn’t impress me.

All this said, Graduation did receive the Grammy for Best Rap Album.  But we all know that music awards in this day in age are stupid and pointless.

The albums first single, Stronger, is a remix/mashup/whatever of Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.  The song got massive airplay and was a staple in many bars and clubs.  Because of this, I grew tired of it quickly.  To be honest, I didn’t find it to be different enough from the Daft Punk track.  Mostly it just seems like he’s rapping over the same track.  Lame, in my opinion.

This album also contains probably the worst hip-hop song in my library, Drunk and Hot Girls.  The content of the song is exactly what the title says, Kanye rapping about Drunk and Hot Girls.  What’s worse is that this track features Mos Def.  Considering some of the awesome songs they’ve collaborated on in the past, this was a huge let down.

The album does have it’s bright spots.  Can’t Tell Me Nothing is an awesome track over a classic Kanye hip-hop beat.  In the retrospecitve track Everything I Am, Kanye raps:

Damn, here we go again / Everything I’m not made me everything I am

Kanye also collaborates with Chris Martin of Coldplay on the track Homecoming.  I’m not a fan of Coldplay at all but I am a big fan of this track.

In general, I just find this album boring.  Aside from a few tracks mentioned above it doesn’t really flow well.  Considering how well his first albums flowed (including skits, intros, etc. that you find in most rap albums), Graduation seemed like a thrown-together piece of work after Kanye spent a week in a studio with a synthesizer and a bunch of old records to mix up.

I’m looking forward to having either of his first two albums show up for review as I believe they are much, much better offerings than Graduation.  If you’re considering adding some Kanye West to your collection, try his rookie and sophomore albums before testing this one.

Dylan