I love Kanye West's new cd so much that I want to take it out behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Originally, I had pre-ordered it on iTunes and I was so excited that I planned on staying up til about 3 in the morning on Monday night so that I could download the cd at the first possible moment, listen to it, and then fall asleep. From that last sentence you should easily figure out that my life has become more pathetic than you could even imagine.

Late on Monday afternoon, I decided to cancel the pre-order. I realized that I wanted the actual cd. So I decided to go to the Virgin Store in Union Square early on Tuesday morning to buy the actual compact disc. Since about 10 AM on Tuesday morning, the cd is all I've listened to. It's occupied my every thought. It's that good.

Sure, maybe I'm going overboard. I have a tendency to do that when I like something alot. Take my recent obsession with Las Vegas. I've been watching 2-3 episodes a day and at this point am ready to declare it the best show on television. In fact, I'm thinking about staying in on Friday, September 28th so that I can watch the 2 hour season premiere (!)

Anyway, before I actually start talking about the cd itself, I should preface my review with a few thoughts. First, Kanye is probably my favorite rapper out right now. This might have more to do with other rappers sucking than with Kanye being that good. It's become disgustingly easy for me to rattle off a list of disappointments that my rap favorites have graced me with: Kingdom Come, Hip Hop Is Dead, Tru3 Magic. Even Game Theory and Hell Hath No Fury haven't lived up to the weight of repeat listens. Now, given that last sentence, maybe it's true that I'm jumping the gun on Graduation being great given that I've only listened to it for 3 days. But, in my defense, both College Dropout and Late Registration have consistently grown on me to the point where both of those albums remain in heavy rotation on my iPod. Second, I fought tooth and nail with myself not to listen to a leak of the album before it came out. I wanted to have that "wow-this-album-came-out-today-and-I've-only-listened-to-the-singles" feeling that I used to have in high school. While I like Game Theory and Hell Hath a lot both of those cds were diminished a little by the fact that I had heard so many of there songs before the album came out as a whole.

The overwhelming impression that the CD gives on the first listen is one of consistency. None of the songs really jump out at you as club bangers (exception, Stronger). Dropout and Registration both had a few songs (Through the Wire, Gold Digger) that you knew would be immediate hits. But they had their fair share of clunkers also (Breathe In Breathe Out, Bring Me Down). Graduation is different in that its completeness is an absolute strength - there's no inane skits, no overbloated guest appearances, no excess orchestration. The song quality is incredibly consistent. But that's not to say that all the songs are the same. There's a broad range - songs heavy on soul sample, piano loops, electronic samples, synths. It's a testament to Kanye's willingness to push the boundaries of what can be included in hip hop while still making hip hop music.

Here are my highlights on the album: I love the fact that the beat on "Good Morning" actually sounds like the morning feels. It's a perfect song to wake up to. On "Champion," I enjoy the part where the girl comes in and sings. I'm not a huge fan of the chorus, though. "Stronger" is great - the drums have been changed - but thankfully Kanye decided not to change any of the lyrics. On a side note, I'm sick and tired of hearing people complain about his lyrics. He has his fair share of clunkers, but he's never claimed to be a great lyricist. Plus, referencing Klondike bars and lesbians on back to back lines is genius. "I Wonder" starts to become good at the start of the third verse when Kanye gets rid of the stilted flow and starts to build some momentum with his voice. "Good Life" is one of my favorite songs on the album. I love when drops the beat and says "more ass than the models." I love the video. I love the Michael Jackson sample. And I really enjoyed the MTV VMA performance for the song. I originally hated "Can't Tell Me Nothin'," but it's grown on me steadily. Plus, the fact that he brought Jeezy in just to record adlibs is pretty genius. I'm still not sold on "Barry Bonds" mostly because I don't like Weezy that much, but the organ in the song is pretty ominous and foreboding. "Drunk and Hot Girls" is by far the most out there song on the album and it's almost unbearably slow. But I haven't skipped it yet on a listen through and the lyrics are pretty fantastic. For example, "Don't tell me you a singer/ you about to get a deal / aaagh aaagh aaagh aaagh / that's how the fuck you sound." Does it rhyme? No. Does it make any sense? No. Does it work perfectly? Yes. "Flashing Lights" is a song that I have absolutely no feelings about either way yet. "Everything I Am" and "Glory" are my two favorite songs on the album. The former sounds a little like "Guess Who's Back" while "Glory" sounds a little like "I.Z.Z.O." I think Kanye is at his best when the beats are dominated either by piano or strings. Both of these songs hit the spot. "Homecoming" is a completed and mastered version of "Home" which was originally on the College Dropout Advance. The verses of the songs are identical, but the choruses and beats are completey different. I loved the original version of "Home" with the soul sample and John Legend singing the chorus and was disappointed when I found out that this version would be different. But I still equally likehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif the more piano based and Chris Martin-sung version on this album. But it's weird when he starts yodelling on the chorus. "Big Brother" is a song about Jay-Z. You thought that I wouldn't like it??

Reading through the last paragraph, I realized that I didn't do the cd justice. But I'm not about to go back and delete it because 1) it's a lot of words and 2) it took me a while to write. The one main thing to say about the album is that you can tell that Kanye tried on it. And, like I've said before, at this point in time all I ask out of rappers is that they try. He tried to make an album that was both overreaching and well within itself. He tried to explore his sonic palate and he also tried to step up his lyricism. He succeeded on all fronts.

So, go buy the cd. And even if you don't like Kanye that much, you have to like him more than you like 50 Cent.

If you want to read much better and more polished reviews of the album, click here here here or here. And this reviewer doesn't have a damn clue what they're talking about.

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