Graduation – Kanye West

This Friday I’m gonna change up from the usual classic rock I’ve been reviewing, and take a look at what all the kids are listening to these days. Rap and hip-hop music is what holds the top of the charts these days, but rap music has changed a lot in the short time it’s reigned. One artist that has managed to keep up with this change the longest is Kanye West. Say what you want about him (there’s a lot to stay) but he’s probably the most musically talented person in the rap game, and that’s what’s allowed him to evolve with this genre. We’re gonna flashback eleven years to 2007 when Kanye West released his third studio album, Graduation. Let’s get after it.

The Vocals:

Kanye West just has one of those voices that work for rap music. It doesn’t really matter what he says, it just sounds cool. Supplement that voice with masterfully written and composed songs, and you’ve got Graduation. He flows hard on certain tracks like “Stronger” or “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and pivots well to flow well over some of the strange and spacey beats on other tracks like “Flashing Lights” or “The Glory.” On this album, he displays a type of versatility as an artist that very few people in the industry possess. It’s also important to mention the vocal work from all of the features (Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Chris Martin just to name a few) was definitely something to write home about.

The Instrumentals:

The instrumentals on this album are pretty crazy as far as hip-hop albums go. This album was not produced as most are today, using mostly synthesizers and computer-generated beats, but with a ridiculous amount of studio artists playing an oddly wide range of instruments. By ridiculous, I mean that there are seven different violin players listed in the credits. A ton of man-hours were poured into this album, and it shows. In addition to this, there are a few subtly placed samples that give the instrumentation of the album so much re-listening value. Samples from Elton John, Steely Dan, and Michael Jackson are hidden on some of these tracks, so see if you can spot them out.

The Production:

Also great. The beats and sounds behind Kanye West on this album were meticulously crafted over two years, and it shows. Each song on this album is like a layer cake of different synth noises and instrumentation, and each, with the exception of Big Brother, were produced by Kanye West himself. There’s so much going on in each song, and it blows my mind how it all seems to come together neatly.

The Essentials:

Every track is great, listen to all of them, and then do it again.

The Rating:

Overall it’s just an impressive album.

9.3

He might be a crazy person, but he makes good music. See ya next week.

-Drew

Kanye West

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