Saturday, September 8, 2007


What a great summer for music. First, my beloved Stars come out with a terrific new record, and now another A-list fave, Kanye West, returns with his third stellar release in four years, Graduation (which completes his school-inspired trilogy, following 2004’s The College Dropout and 2005’s Late Registration).
     Lyrically, the album is easy to dismiss, as reviews in the New York Times and Eye Weekly have done. Kanye has never been shy in touting his own greatness, but on his latest, he’s reached another level. Every song, and I mean *every* song, is about how amazing Kanye is, how rich and famous he’s become, and how wrong his legion of jealous “haters” are. It may be off-putting to many, but there are such strong feelings of joy and triumph and sheer awe on Graduation, as West answers the question he poses in the sampled chorus of “I Wonder”: “I wonder if you know what it means to find your dreams come true?” Clearly, it’s a good, good feeling.
     And musically, Kanye is proving he has few equals. Songs such as the calypso-tinged “Champion,” the Quincy-Jones-inspired “Good Life,” and album highlight “The Glory” are mini-masterpieces, dense with musical creativity and head-bopping confidence. (Not to mention the much-blogged-about “The Homecoming,” featuring Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and the soulful “Everything I Am,” with a beat “Common passed on,” a decision I’m sure he’ll regret.)
     As great as Graduation is, though, it’s far from perfect. A trio of songs midway through the record (“Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Barry Bonds,” and “Drunk and Hot Girls”) are virtually unlistenable. Uninspired, offensive and hypocritical, the three tracks stand out in complete contrast to an otherwise superb and brutally honest record. B+; without those 3 tracks: A
Kanye West: Champion (mp3)
Kanye West: The Glory (mp3)

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