Top 100 Albums of the Decade: #100 Kanye West - Graduation
The Top 100 Influential Artists of the Decade list and the Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post an artist and album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist and #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#100 Kanye West - Graduation
Ah, Mr. West. On this day of commencement, in the year 2007, I hope you maintain the scholarly values that the School of Hip-Hop has bestowed upon you, the decades of wisdom that this school of thought has provided for our prodigal student. These past four years, a certain growth has been observed by my colleagues as well as myself, a growth that has surpassed that of our most beloved and respected students. You are an eloquent orator, one that aptly applies such articulation into the appropriate context, allowing you to effectively deliver your message. And so, on this day of Graduation, I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors and I look forward to watching your progress in your life-long pursuit of changing the world.
Kanye West's progression from The College Dropout to Late Registration was extraordinary, despite the fact that his first album was incredible. What was so staggering about this progression, was his enlistment of artists and minds outside of the hip-hop arena, each of which provided a new platform for West's music and lyrics to launch from. For instance, Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, had no place in the world of hip-hop. However, Kanye's innovative knack widdled a groove into the framework of "Heard 'em Say," allowing Levine's falsetto to fit neatly within the chorus. Furthermore, the enlistment of the genius Jon Brion as producer was, well, nothing short of genius. Brion also lent his sonic prowess to Graduation, playing the role of co-executive producer.
West's innovation is omnipresent on this album. "Drunk and Hot Girls," a song that features another brilliant mind from the School of Hip-Hop, Mos Def, is one example. What is so brilliant about this track is that the beat and melody are taken from Can's "Sing Swan Song," off the ground-breaking Ege Bamyasi. Yes, that's what I said. Can, the German, psychedelic, acid-loving, jazz-spazz-rockers from Cologne. James Murphy was there. Then there's "Stronger," which samples Daft Punk, who played at James Murphy's house. Although this song doesn't really live up to Kanye's potential, there is much to be admired in regards to rapping over a Daft Punk tune. Combining his hip-hop eloquence with the robotics of Daft Punk is courageous and inspiring. He never ceases to amaze me.
Lyrically, West is on par with previous records, yet he has an air of wisdom surrounding him. The opening track, "Good Morning," comments on the state of education, in all arenas, in which individual perspective is compromised for selfish reasons and hidden agendas. West criticizes the student, and not just the collegian, but a student in every walk of life, for his or her lack of free-thinking or pursuit thereof. West yells, "Good Morning," to the class, but actually seems to be saying, "Wake up!"
Mr. West, since you first came to the School of Hip-Hop, you have never ceased to amaze me. I hope the scholarly perspective you have developed over these past four years continues to blossom and you continue to use this perspective in your approach to the important issues, the issues we must all face, in the future. You are a scholar, a powerful orator, and an educator. Keep your dreams to the sky, Mr. West. You have the power to change the world.