September 19, 2007
Pomp and Circumstance
I’ve gone round and round with this album, trying to figure out how I really feel about it. I’ve had the album for about three weeks now and I’m glad I waited to write this. If I reviewed it after the first couple listens, it would have been a whole different perspective. I was so disappointed on the first skim through. Then even more disappointed when I sat and listened. Since then my tone has changed somewhat. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll go track for track and then I’ll give my overall synopsis at the end.
Nice little boom-bap beat. Typical laid-back Kanye type sound. He’s continuing his school theme. Spits some nice lines, still taking shots at institutionalized education. Only thing I didn’t like too much was the random Jay-Z samples at the end. Other than that, I enjoy this track.
This beat is sick. I guess this is an inspirational song. He tells some stories and gives some insight into his motivation. “To me giving up’s way harder than trying” I like that one. Song gets a thumbs up from me.
For some reason this song hasn’t hit me the way it has apparently hit everyone else. It’s #2 in the country, coming in behind “Crank Dat” which….ugh. Anyway, if anyone could kindly help me out and clue me in as to what this song is about, that would be great. I mean, don’t get me wrong..it’s tight. His flow is ill, the beat is different (in a good way), but the song just doesn’t connect with me because I have no idea what he’s talking about. At some points I understand that he’s talking to a girl but then the chorus hits and I’m just lost. A little help?
I can’t stand this song. The beat is mediocre and the sample is boring. On top of that, he’s not saying shit! It all just seems so random. Is there a concept for this song? Flow is atrocious. Lyrics are all over the place. Song gets skipped every time.
One of my favorites on the LP, which is a surprise because for the most part I despise T-Pain. This is what I like from ‘Ye. Solid beat, good concept, comes correct lyrically. Even takes a little quote from 50 “Go ‘head, switch the style up/and if they hate then let ’em hate and watch the money pile up” One of my favorites.
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
This song just seems like a bunch of lines mashed together. And the beat gets annoying by the end (what the hell is she saying anyway?). Nevertheless it’s catchy and I find myself singing it sometimes. Oh, and I have no idea what he’s talking about when he says “Parallel double-park that muthafucka sidewayz” but I love it!
Beat is nice, but I don’t think Kanye did it. Solid track. I could have done without Wayne. I just read that Jay was supposed to appear on the track but he didn’t make it in time. This is cocky Kanye at his finest though. Even went so far as to call himself a “Top 5” MC. Sorry ‘Ye but..no.
Drunk and Hot Girls
Good news and bad news. Good news first? I can finally get through this song without skipping it. Bad news? I still don’t think it’s good. But I’m not sure. I’m so on the fence. When I first heard it, I thought it was garbage. This is a “Top 5 MC”? I think not. Over time I’ve started to appreciate the song for what it is. I even find myself singing it when I’m not listening to it. Maybe I’d like it more if I was still single..
Sounds good. But I have no idea what he’s talking about! And I swear this nigga wishes so bad that he was in the 80’s. This is a club song I suppose. But I stay out of clubs.
Everything I Am
This beat will put you straight to sleep. I mean, shit…did you waste the good ones on Common’s album? No wonder Common passed on this beat, and NO, you did NOT make it into a jam. Decent lyrics..but I really can’t get with his slow flow. Stop singing me a lullaby. Make a banging beat and GO IN. Damn
THIS is what the fuck I’m talkin about! He took it back to the sped-up sample and drums. This sounds like the natural progression from College Dropout. This is the Kanye I need. “While y’all was in limbo..I raised the bar up” Dude is nice when he is focused. He took all that ego and did his thing on this one. “I know, I know, I look better in real life”. Eugh. Get em, ‘Ye
This track is weird every time I hear it because I first heard it like four years ago on a different (better) beat and without Chris Martin. So this just doesn’t seem like the real version to me. I had always hoped that he’d release the song but this just isn’t how I pictured it. The lyrics are still tight though. He personifies Chicago as a woman and he pulls it off quite cleverly. “When I grew up, she taught me how to go downtown/And at nighttime her face lit up so astounding.” Makes me miss Chi-City. *tear*
I can’t stand this song. I’m a big Jay-Z fan…but this shit is borderline gay. I mean, I understand he is just expressing how he feels as far as being in Jay’s shadow. But still..I guess to the casual listener it’s like “aw, he’s paying respect to his big bro.” But I know a little bit about hip-hop and, especially being a Jay-Z/Roc-a-Fella fan, I know that Jay doesn’t even fuck with Kanye like that. Jay didn’t even want to sign him, Dame did. Shit, Jay-Z wouldn’t give a shit about Kanye if he didn’t produce. Jay was asked in an interview about the future of the Roc and if Kanye could be that future. Jay said no..Kanye doesn’t represent what Roc-a-Fella is about. But Kanye is so damn loyal and he idolizes this nigga Jay. In the process, however, he just makes himself look like a bitch. 1st for getting shut down at the MSG show..not getting to perform and not even getting in for free. And 2nd for complaining about Jay doing a song with Chris Martin. I think the best part about him making this song is Jay’s response: “It’s the most important song he’s made since Jesus Walks”……..WOW….
I’m not doing the bonus tracks. Deal with it.
If I sat here and said that this was a bad album, I’d be lying. In fact, everyone I know thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, he pushed 900,000+ in a week so put your diamonds up for that. I guess it just boils down to the fact that it’s not what I wanted him to put out. It’s not the Kanye that I expected to hear. Nonetheless it’s still good music. Kanye tends to make feel-good music in general, even if sometimes it’s not completely cohesive. That’s one of my gripes about the album. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Lacking Beats
For a super-producer, he didn’t impress me this go-round. I’ve heard people rant and rave about the production on this album but it just doesn’t do it for me. When he was heavy on the soul samples and the drums on College Dropout, that defined his sound. On Late Registration I understood him trying to create a wider range of styles. Graduation sounds like something very European. It just didn’t connect with me. Maybe I’m not open enough.
2. Inconsistent Lyrics
Mr. West’s lyrics are here and there. Good and bad. Very spotty. He’s far from wack but he’s nowhere near as great as he himself believes. From CD to LR, I felt that he was improving but prior to the release of Graduation he said himself that he was dumbing down his content. He wanted to be able to rock a big crowd and he felt he couldn’t do that with his “super-lyrical raps” as he put it. He said he wanted to make timeless music for the stadiums so he could tour in 20 years and still give the people a hype show like the Rolling Stones. That’s fine and all, but where’s this semi-conscious MC that you tried to make us believe that you were? Jesus Walks to Drunk and Hot Girls? You hang around Mos Def, Common, and Talib Kweli and your deepest song is about how you look up to your label boss? My friend told me “I like Kanye because he has something to say. He has substance.” Well I heard a lot of talk about girls, money, clothes, and himself. Same shit that other rappers talk about minus violence and drugs. Not to say that he doesn’t have good lines, but that’s all he has…good lines. When I listen to a Kanye West song, a lot of times it doesn’t even feel like the verses go together or go with the chorus. It’s like he just pieced it all together. He even said that the “Devil wears Prada/Adam, Eve wear nada” line was in his head for a month before he recorded “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” I think that he probably just thinks of a hot line….then another hot line..then a hot couplet…and just pieces them together into 16 bar verses. And puts those around a chorus that he wrote the month before. That’s why I can listen to an entire song by him..enjoy how it sounds..and have no idea what he just talked about. Because it wasn’t about anything..or it was about everything. Either way, he needs some focus. He should stop concentrating on “Stadium Status” and show that he can spit, because he can.
Now someone like Jay can carry a whole album alone but I don’t feel that Kanye, at this point, should have undertaken this. His previous albums were very heavy on guest appearances and that was lacking on this go-round. Even his Mos Def appearance was just singing, which was disappointing. He could have at least had some of his own G.O.O.D. music family on there (Common, GLC, Consequence). Also, I was hoping for a Jay-Z verse as their collabs are usually on point.
All in all, one of the better albums of the year.I don’t think it’s better than Finding Forever though. It’s my least favorite out of his catalog thus far but it doesn’t make me any less of a fan. As long as he can still cater to the hip-hop core every now and then, I’ll continue to listen. He said a number of years ago that after the Graduation album would come “Good Ass Job.” I’m just hoping for Dope Ass Album. Until then, do your thing ‘Ye. Roc-a-Fella y’all..