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on September 10, 2007
Kanye West is thoughtful ("Everything I'm not, made me everything I am," he explains on "Everything I Am") and has a voice like honey and a breathtakingly broad musical palette.
On his third album, West wants that acceptance on a big piece of paper, rolled up in a ribbon and presented to him in front of the applauding world. To make sure that everyone had the date in their diary, he pulled the release forward to clash with his nemesis, 50 Cent. But why bother? If anyone was going to get the prize for coming top of the class right now, it would be West.
"Graduation" sums up the qualities that made West a star: smart sampling, funny pitched-up vocals, a new found maturity, sagacious rapping and a finely attuned ear for infectious beats and rhythms.
There are also a couple of new ingredients: steely, electro synths from Daft Punk on "Stronger" and Caribbean lilts on "Good Life".
He's even got rappers' favourite indie boy Chris Martin doing his best Gilbert O'Sullivan impression on "Homecoming".
Despite all this, something about "Graduation" feels a bit cold.
The goofy glamour of "Gold Digger" and "Touch the Sky" have been edged out by over-earnest, gratingly repetitive self-promotion and an underlying sense of isolation and paranoia. And for all his right-on credentials, "Drunk & Hot Girls" veers close to hip-hop's tired old misogyny.
Kanye West is a 'conscious' rapper whose album samples Steely Dan and kraut rock beards Can; who muses on the stress of success; and who likes speeded up chipmunk vocals.
"Graduation" will leave some fans cold (it's a pop album that takes hip hop further into mainstream dance culture).
The album has magnificent moments (the Daft Punk-sampling "Stronger", the wonderfully upbeat "Good Life") but is weighed down by navel-gazing and pales in comparison to "Late Registration" and "College Dropout".
And yet, the record is beguiling and addictive: you want to go back and listen again as all those shiny, unexpected layers reveal themselves.
"Graduation" might yet to turn out to be as important as West thinks it is.
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on September 10, 2007
Even if you're hopelessly alienated from American rap and hip-hop, Kanye West is extremely hard to resist if there is a musical bone in your body.
On this excellent record, he duets with Coldplay's Chris Martin on "Homecoming" and teams up with the young Grammy-winning blues guitarist John Mayer on "Bittersweet Poetry".
What makes these collaborations so good is that Kanye West is obviously not looking for crossover acceptance, rather he is demonstrating how he can excel in such distinguished company.
There's deft sampling of anyone who serves the cause, from Steely Dan and Elton John to reggae lion U-Roy and Daft Punk, and a new found maturity that ensures the swaggering but warm "Graduation": is that rarest of things: a keyboards-led hip hop album. It's tip top.
It's mature, adventurous, addictive.
With "Graduation", Kanye West proves once again that he is way ahead of the hip-hop pack.
Album's highlights: "Drunk and Hot Girls", "Can't Tell Me Nothing", "I Wonder" and "Stronger".
I'm loving it!
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on September 11, 2007
After two amazing solid hip hop albums just recently released this year, Common's Finding Forever and Talib Kweli's Eardrum, (both in which had an appearance with Kanye) one could only look foward to the next big album. This album was Kanye's Graduation. Unfortunately, this album was a mixed bag for me. As a producer, Kanye is one of the greats and he undeniably will be one of the best for some time to come. As a lyricist, I was definitely disappointed. Kanye is still better then most, but for this album I felt he didn't bring his A game. After hearing Common's and Talib Kweli's albums, this one seem very lackluster in the lyrical department. Either way, this is easily one of the best hip hop albums this year surpassing 50's Curtis.
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VINE VOICEon September 10, 2007
Kanye is back at it with his third effort. Creative rhymes and dope beats are what kanye has cooked up for the world to listen for his third attempt. Stand out songs like "everything I am", "good life", and "barry bonds" help to make this album a easy favorite in my cd changer. I give this album 3.5 stars due to the fact there are a few weak songs that I skip routinely. Like for instance "Drunk and hot girls and I wonder" are terrible songs to me. I don't like the energy nor the delivery of the rhymes on these songs. While this isn't a perfect album.....After listening to 50's album, Graduation comes off as a masterpiece.
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on September 12, 2007
The College Dropout was the album that convinced me that hip-hop was worth listening to. "Last Call," "Get 'Em High," "Breathe in, Breathe out" and "School Spirit" had some of the best beats I'd ever heard--and Kanye's flow was at time spectacular as well, especially on the second verse of "School Spirit" and the first of "Get 'Em High." Not to mention that while I wasn't always a fan of the subject of his lyrics, Kanye's were often better and more introspective than most rappers' ("Jesus Walks," "Never Let Me Down" and "All Falls Down" especially).

And then the best songs of Late Registration were just as good or not better. Where have you heard a better beat than "Heard 'Em Say," "Touch the Sky" or "Gone"?

And then he produced this...I can't believe the general consensus is that these beats are good. These beats, for the most part, suck! I seem to be the only person who thinks the "Stronger" Daft Punk sample just doesn't work. I don't like "Champion"s beat, "I Wonder" at least has a good sample, but then the flow sucks. "Barry Bonds" and "Drunk and Hot Girls" are two of the worst songs I've ever heard! Kanye shouldn't apologize to Mos Def for "Breathe in, Breathe Out" he should apologize for putting him on this crappy song.

The album's not THAT bad, I guess. I like "Good Morning" a lot, "Homecoming" is pretty good, "Can't Tell Me Nothing" is okay, despite how "stupidly" he comes up with lyrics for it, "Flashing Lights" isn't terrible even though the beat kind of annoys me. I can't remember the name but I also like the song that rehashes "School Spirit" (the chorus goes "I'm a get on this TV, mama..."). And I also like the rap on "Stronger" despite it's weak beat.

The beats are just weird on this album. On the first half of the album I feel more like I'm listening to a crappy Flaming Lips cover band with rap instead of the amazing Kanye West.

It's just that College Dropout and Late Registration were two of the best hip hop albums ever made, and Graduation is, at best, mediocre. My eighth or ninth favorite song on College Dropout, "Two Words" would be my favorite or second favorite on this one (after "Good Morning"). That says a lot about how good College Dropout is, but also a lot about how mediocre Graduation is.
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on September 11, 2007
this album is by far kanyes worst. yes, the beats are amazing as usually but kanyes flow and lyrics are absolute garbage. stronger is a good song but is ruined by the fact that he is rapping about klondikes. there are very few good songs on this album and none of them are even close to being college dropout material. once again, i cannot emphasize enough how bad the lyrics are. kanye should stick to producing.
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on September 18, 2007
When I watch Kanye perform its like he's performing a different song in his head than the one I'm hearing and watching. He's jumping around like he's elevating our minds with lyrics similar to "Get Up Stand Up" but I'm watching a hyper-active kid running back and forth across the stage chanting "Ole McDonald" to a decent musical arrangement, with back-up singers who are clearly related to someone in his entourage, and all arranged like it was a first time impromptu performance. "Ee Aye Ya'll. Ee Aye! Ain't nobody puttin lyrics down like this! Ya'll don't even recognize the significance of what ya'll are hearin' right now!"

"You can live through anything if Magic made it!"

This is one of the many examples of why it is a mistake to listen to hip hop for anything more than ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

To be fair he deserves respect for his determination in pursuing his goal of being a successful rapper/producer because he did achieve it.
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on September 17, 2007
I gave it 3 stars since some of the song's have good musical arrangments that West should only stick to since his rap skills are somewhat... I dunno, not too good. This album and 50 Cent's are nothing spectacular, atleast this is somewhat creative compared to this whole "gangsta" "thug" image mainstream rap music pocesses. Brainwashing this generation into a bunch of materalistic, consuming drones, which is sad. Soulja boy? T-Pain? Lil Boosie? Mainstream rap/hip hop music is in a state of denial.
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on September 9, 2007
I'm sure many of you, if not everyone has heard the phrase "if you heard one of them, you heard them all before." It's a good way to explain Kanye's third offering.

Everyone knows about "the battle" of the two biggest selling hip hop artist by now, that being 50 Cent and Kanye West. Their albums are being dropped on the same day. And with that Fiddy also dropped a famous quote that most people know by now, creating the battle of who is bigger and better. That quote being "If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, I'll no longer write music. I'll write music and work with my other artists, but I won't put out anymore solo albums."

I am an unbiased listener and reviewer who buys both 50's and Kanye's albums, and respect both men. I have to say however that I know 50 Cent is the bigger artist and the better selling between the two. My predictions is that 50's third studio release "Curtis" will outsell Kanye's "Graduation". I had the opportunity to pick up both in Japan before they were released in the states because of the difference in time by 13 hours.

My report is that while Graduation is a tight album, there is no singles or songs on the record that just jump out at me and leave me breathless. It's the same game that has been done before, and Kanye has nothing new to offer his listeners. The same sound production and delivery of lyrics. Kanye is still sampling songs, especially old skool soul.

On the other hand 50 Cent comes at us fresh, working with a whole new team of various producers. I wasn't dissapointed enough with Graduation though to the point where I didn't want to buy the album, because it is a good purchase. Just don't get your expectations up too high expecting another "College Dropout" or better.
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on September 14, 2007
If you want an average CD, with minimal character in the lyrics, and some alright beats, you've found it. This album proves to me that it's time for Kanye to get back behind the tables and let the MCs do their thing and let him do his thing, which is produce. We will have to wait for Murs and Moka Only and Atmosphere to break onto radio before Hip-Pop can be a legitimate art form again and draw some market share back from country music.
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