Review #204: Graduation, Kanye West

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 26, 2021

#204: Graduation, Kanye West

Ye’s third album. Every time I listen to this one, I feel like I’m on a school bus. (I was in the seventh grade when this was released.) I feel like people hate on 2000s music for being overproduced and Autotuned and generally too slick, but there really is something special about it.

If you’re asking me (in my extremely unprofessional opinion), I honestly think it has to do with the fact that it became more challenging to sample other artists. Rappers used to use them like musical collages, but after De La Soul’s lawsuit, they needed to find a new way to use creative production techniques. It’s easy to poopoo if you’re married to Nineties rap, but it’s definitely its own distinct style.

If you’re wondering who the woman on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Flashing Lights” is, it’s Connie Mitchell!


“Champion” — OMG this is a Steely Dan sample from “Kid Charlamegne”! Kanye apparently had to write them an passionate letter in order to sign on. Have you ever heard that Kanye quote that’s like “fans of Kanye are fans of themselves”? That’s what it makes me think of.

“Stronger” — This Daft Punk sample is I think one of the greatest 2000s rap samples ever. God, doesn’t this song make you want to try harder at everything?

“I Wonder” — This sample is amazing, and his rapping is so passionate. He has said that this was inspired by U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” (go figure) and that he made a conscious effort not to “ovverrap.” To say nothing of this lovely sample from Labi Siffre.

“Good Life” — Okay, not into MJ getting royalties for stuff like this, but I LOVE this sample of “P.Y.T.” Also, T-Pain is great in this! Have you seen his Tiny Desk Concert?

“Can’t Tell Me Nothing” — Ye has said this is one of his own favorite songs.

“Barry Bonds” Another hit like Barry Bonds. To be fair, wasn’t Barry Bonds on steroids?

“Flashing Lights” — Probably my favorite backtrack to the whole album. The line about Katrina without FEMA slays me, too.

“Everything I Am” — LOL. As Kanye mentions at the start of the song, Common passed on this beat, [Ye] made it to a jam.

“The Glory” — My favorite part of this song was when he references “Award Tour,” which was on Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest, #201.

“Homecoming” — With Chis Martin of Coldplay and his piano! This was recorded after Martin and West had an impromptu jam session at Abbey Road Studios, which is incredible.

“Big Brother” — A super introspective song about Jay-Z, and their complicated relationship. The line about Jay-Z ripping off Kanye’s collaboration with Coldplay cracked me up. By the way, Jay-Z called this song “brilliant.”


“Good Morning” — This album is mostly free of skits, so why does this song feel like a cheesy skit to me?

“Drunk and Hot Girls” — The nearer to present day we get, the less tolerance I have for songs like this.


Part of me feels like it’s taking up space that should be occupied by someone who isn’t represented. That said, Graduation went quintuple platinum. There’s something to be said for sales, like it or hate it.

Review #203: Pink Moon, Nick Drake

#205: Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens