While it lacks the first-listen “wow factor” of his 2004 debut, College Dropout, and the eclecticism and pop grandeur of 2005’s follow-up, Late Registration, no one can accuse Kanye West’s Graduation of not exploring new territory (a claim which 50 Cent’s Curtis can’t share). Surprisingly light on chipmunk samples, but heavy on synth beats and Takashi Murakami artwork, this record is spacey.
‘Ye has said Graduation is the future of hip hop, but with its old school keys, DeLorean references, and Akira-biting “Stronger” video, it may exist more in the realm of the ‘80s than the future. Either way, I’ll take it.
The album needs some getting used to, which is ok. Though it’s full of solid songs, club bangers are conspicuously absent - with a couple of notable exceptions (including the aforementioned single, which, it should be said, derives most of its power from the best part of an already established Daft Punk track that West raps over -- I mean “samples”). But that’s ok, too. Yeezy has made an album that grows on the listener, and though its songs may not provide the immediate gratification of “Jesus Walks” or “Gold Digger,” that’s kind of why it’s great.
Who would’ve thought Kanye West would make a record one could almost call subtle? (Production-wise, of course…don’t think his MC skills would earn that description anytime soon.)