Kanye West - Graduation

I have recently came to the realization that I have been a Kanye West apologist for some time now. People always rip on him for his enormous ego, his diva-like rants, and his cartoonish public image. I have no problem admitting that all those complaints are perfectly valid; he is a jackass and completely full of himself, without a doubt. I think that people tend to let his personality get in their way as far as enjoying his albums go. The fact is that since his debut album, College Dropout, he has been the only consistently great hip-hop artist in the music business.

All my old favorites have severely fallen off. Mos Def has apparently quit the rap game, or at least quit releasing anything worth listening to. Talib Kweli hasn't put out anything good since 2002's appropriately titled Quality. Outkast's last two albums have been patchy at best with 2006's soundtrack to Idlewild being borderline unlistenable. Finally, Common has fallen off the most with his last great album being 2000's Like Water For Chocolate. It is hard for someone like me, who use to absolutely LOVE hip-hop music, to find anything in the genre anymore that actually warrants repeat listens. Except, that is, for Kanye West.

Say what you want but Kanye is the best producer in hip-hop right now. Even though his production has been captivating since album one, he grew by leaps and bounds on both albums since. His greatest production thus far is front and center on this year's hip-hop album of the year (so far), Graduation. Apparently Kanye has discovered synthesizers recently, because they are all over this one. The beats aren't as flashy and immediate as they are on his first two records, but they are still as brilliant as ever. Even the track 'Homecoming' with Chris Martin from Coldplay works very well. I guess Kanye has a talent at making very "uncool" artists seem remarkable "cool" (see Maroon 5's Adam Levine on 'Heard 'Em Say' from 2005's Late Registration). Now granted, Kanye is an average MC at best. His flow is choppy and awkward most of the time. His lyrics however are, for the most part, clever and actually interesting, which is hard to find in hip-hop music today. Love him or hate him, if you are a fan of the genre Kanye West may be the savior of hip-hop music.

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