#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.
“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 — one of the many nods to contemporary rock music here) and that he made a conscious effort not to “ovverrap.” To say nothing of this lovely sample from Labi Siffre.
“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.
“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.”
LEAST FAVORITE SONGS:
“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.
IS RS FULL OF IT?
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.