Thursday, September 13, 2007

Blue Balls

I been waiting too. Too bad too because my balls are still blue. I cannot recall waiting for an album to drop for this long. I feel extra late because I choose to wait while everyone went crazy on the leaks. Expectations, expectations, expectations. I hate them. Graduation delivered on some wavelengths but overall it was inert; the bear has a trajectory and it will come down sooner than expected.

The “Uh-weee-uuuhhh” delivered by Elton John brings in “Good Morning”. The nice welcome lasts the entire first verse as I found myself rocking to beat. But when he drops this gem “I’m like the fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary” you sense his corny rhymes will overtake him one of these days. “Good Morning” serves as a wake up call as Ye’s third verse shines the best, “Valedictorian scared of the future while I hop in the Dolorean… complacent career student… Okay, look up now they done stoled your streetness”. I’m glad I received this.

I’d like to ask Ye if he realized he talks like a “Champion” all the time. His me narcissistic qualities are on full blast “When I shop so much I can speak Italian”. Ye’s reappearing honesty finds its way as usual, “When you see clothes, close your eyelids”. With all that’s going with the beat—there is a parade outside isn’t there?—“Champion” ends abruptly.

Kanye left me thinking with “I Wonder”. I’m still wondering what the track is about. It’s terribly unfocused. Some consider ambiguity a pleasure, I didn’t here. A reoccurring theme with Graduation is Ye’s feeling of graduating to superstardom. In this position, he feels the need to express his discomfort with the much fabled fame, money, women, etc. I dig his conflict but it comes up a lot and then when he releases “Good Life”, it may seem hypocritical.

What’s with all these short songs? “Good Life” is energizing—if you ain’t move yet to that song, you the one “giving salty looks”… shit "throw ya hands up in the sky.” T-Pain helped the track, I’ll admit but wouldn’t anyone who used a vocoder? This could have been a spazz track had he had a good feature, kind of like when Nas killed “We Major”. “Good Life” is what Graduation is all about: finally getting the chance to live like a star. “Before I had it I closed my eyes and imagine the good life.“ While Ye doesn’t bombard our ears with cha-chings, he adds his fetish for couture and his usual smug jokey style. I felt “Good Life” was grey; Ye drops his “I’m rich” lines along with his concerned thoughts on attaining these amenities but it sounds weightless. It's like "but Ye you in Vegas stuntin'?"

“Stronger” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” are two smash singles. He’s never had such a strong showing right out of the gate. On College Dropout and Late Registration, I was starry eyed over some of the less obvious tracks: “Family Business” and "Spaceship" on CD ; and “Addiction” and “We Major” on LR. Equipped with these two official bangers (I hate using that word!), Ye had me thinking he was ready to pummel history. The only gripe I have about “Stronger” was that the lyrics grew thin by the second verse and at 5:12, there should have been a third verse. Both beats are Ye’s best. I can’t tell Kanye nothing because they, surprisingly, still have repeat value.

And here’s another out “Barry Bonds”. Overall both struck out. Ye came towards the end “bow so hard till your knees hit ya forehead… top 5 emcees you gotta rewind me, I’m high up on the line you could get behind me but my head so big you can’t sit behind me." Weezy* was just average and his verse was chalk full of the isms “Ice in my teeth so refrigeratored, I’m so fucking good like I’m sleeping with Meagan… I’m still Cole like Keyshia’s family." Then the track ends abruptly. All we got was an extended verse from both? Ye should have come back with something better or they should have traded off on a last verse. “Barry Bonds” was a weak pop fly that the crowd gasped at just cuz he hit it in the air… that shit ain’t going outta the park!

The worst moment in Ye’s career was the decision of putting “Drunk and Hot Girls” on the album. This track should have been a leftover that he never even saw the internet. He better have had an strong impetus to tack this onto what he claims he “spent tons of time and energy on”. It’s not terrible but it’s a WTF moment for Ye: five plus minutes!?! The song is mildly funny, an inside chuckle, and true but but but—I’m stuttering because I cannot explain this gaffe. One listen and skip.

Another questionable track form Ye was “Flashing Lights”. It begins to alarm me and sours his great efforts. Comparing the paparazzi to Nazis isn’t offensive to me but borders on the bad corny. But by the second verse his flow and imagery begins to win me over.

Common passed on this beat… “Damn!” The laid back “Everything I Am” is my shit. This is Ye at his best. This gives me back that warm feeling inside. He comes hard on every verse and this is what I had imagined Graduation to feel like. “See how I creeped up.” “People talk so much shit about me at barber shops they forget to get their hair cut.” “Man killing’s some wack shit!” Them scratches—“Damn!”

“The Glory” feels like “Champion”: a sped up/chopped sample. But that bass line sets this apart along with the flow “The hood love to listen to Jeezy and Weezy and oh yeah Yeezy.”

Listen to this. “Oh, no!” is right. Two year old bars ain’t cool! That song and beat are better than “Homecoming”. I have a feeling this collabo with Chris Martin is two years old too. At first I was geeked to hear Martin with Jay and Ye but I’m convinced he doesn’t add much to Hip Hop tracks and it’s a marketing scheme. As some other reviewer of Graduation said “How does Chris Martin, a Brit, speak for Ye’s homecoming in Chicago?”

When the beat came on I thought ‘where’d it go?’ Ye quiets it down for “Big Brother”. While I think Ye is being plain honest with his relationship with Jay-Z, and even if Ye’s tone is fairly positive (whatever happened, happened—no reason to hold grudges), I took it as another piece of evidence that Shawn Carter is an asshole. Call it an ode… I call it a sugar coated, competitive fuck you. The song is brilliantly crafted; you see Jay’s actions keeping Ye down. However, Ye takes the cold shoulder and turns it into motivation.

Kanye West is an artist. I highly admire it in this day in age. He’s an individual—yes, he is different. While his kinky bear fetish is not my taste and his album cover artwork isn’t the illest, I credit his apparent eccentricity. His three videos are all done with thought and taste. His creative genius comes out everywhere.

Now, how does Graduation rate with his past two joints? Umm, bunched up alongside the two. All of them have their memorable and “ehh, that didn’t work” moments. Ye’s beats are never wack. This time around he showed us how much more versatile he can be; most of the samples weren’t soul driven. Flying solo was Ye’s thing this time. I like it but leaving a few actual features off was a misstep; Ye works well with other choosy rappers. Jon Brion’s presence on Late Registration lead to expansive beats. Ye tried to capture it this time but instead of expanding the beat and amplifying it, he just let it play. Although I agree with what Ye has said, "Graduation is for the stadiums.", in the process, Ye quit on some tracks. I’m not hating but “I Wonder” could have used more meaningful matter in all that space. There’s no concept for the album as many of the songs are squeezed together. He manages to make it cohesive but everything revolves around his self-absorbed life.

Graduation felt like a current day mixtape. Most of the songs had two verses and they took a back seat to his beats—just morsels. They come in at around three and a half minutes which only gave him ample time for two verses and the rest for bobbing his (and our) heads to the ill beats. Granted Ye is a producer first and foremost but I’ve always taken him seriously as an emcee. That’s not to say he was the bomb explosive but he’s worked on his shit and I give him props for the efforts (they’ve paid off too). But on Graduation his rhymes stumbled. He had moments where he spit some shit but most other times he filled air time or he just let the beat play. And that’s not a bad thing, to let the beat play. I can listen to all 13 songs because of the beats. Although only a few standout, his efforts give range; from “Stronger” to “Big Brother” to “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” to “Everything I Am” to “I Wonder—they all depict a set of emotions, vibes. There are only a few songs, altogether, that are favorites—shit that I’d run to. Rather it’s an album, when on, that I’d enjoy for that moment. Graduation can feel thin sometimes and is brief but when listening to it in its entirety, you feel like a few years have passed but you didn’t mind it. Graduation is a junior’s jitters to leave school early. It’s a great feeling at times but then reality strikes and you realize: you got one more year; you ain’t done with this shit just yet.


At 10:30 PM, Blogger Bare Arms said...

good review homie...salute.

At 3:15 PM, Blogger The Major said...

thanks... as much as i sound like i hate the album, i'm liking it a lot.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Mally612 said...

Yes, the album was good. I think this album could have been a classic if he woulda left "Drunk Girls" off the album, and if he woulda snapped wit the rhymes on every song.

He did neither of those, but he definitely had some songs that he just killed it on, and then some songs were just regularly rapped on (in my opinion) but still managed to be fuckin nice somehow.

Overall a good album, and major you had a good review.



Post a Comment

<< Home