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Kanye's latest K.O.'s
Kanye West - Graduation
Review by Tony BonyataIt's refreshing to see that instead of drive-by street shootings or nightclub violence that the latest battleground between rap artists is where it belongs - on the charts. Last week marked the release of two of today's hottest rap artists - NYC's 50 Cent and Chicago's own Kanye West. While the former has sold over twenty-one million records worldwide on the success of his first two releases - Get Rich or Die Tryin' and The Massacre, West's latest album, Graduation, just landed a severe blow to 50 Cent's new album, Curtis, with The Graduation raking in an additional 170,000 sales over Curtis in only its third day of sales. Perhaps its because people are getting tired of the violent imagery in rap, as 50 Cent's latest not only adorns the genre-obligatory guns and gawdy bling in the album art but much of the lyrical content is still steeped in violence and hate ("I'll Still Kill," "Fully Loaded Clip" and "My Gun Go Off"). On the other hand, West's latest cover art is adorned with a hip, even cute, illustration of a teddy bear (the rapper's ongoing trademark), while the album title - along with the titles of his two previous records The College Dropout and Late Registration - refers to his own experiences with school and education.
Themes aside, however, West's third album is victorious through his imaginative blend of hip-hop, deep soul and even indie rock. The samples the rapper uses throughout incorporates elements that range from classic '70s rock (Elton John, Steely Dan and Mountain) to electronica (Can and Daft Punk) and even modern rock ("Coldplay").
West's style of rapping is also an easier pill to swallow than many of his contemporaries as his smooth delivery helps punctuate both the rhythms and melodies equally, instead of merely peppering staccato rhymes over redundant beats. While his first three singles from this record, the slow-groove of "Can't Tell Me Nothing," the slight funk of "Stronger" and the soulful sway of "Good Life," which also features fellow hip-hopper T-Pain on vocals, are all strong enough numbers, some of the other gems, such as "Champion" and "Homecoming," featuring additional vocals from Coldplay's Chris Martin, seem like even more obvious choices for upcoming singles.
An outspoken and controversial egotist - claiming in a Playboy interview last year that if a bible were written in the present day, he's famous and important enough to be included in it - Kanye's own brand of hip-hop, while far from Biblical proportions, is, nonetheless, still some of the best in his genre.
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