Kanye West

By - Oct 1st, 2005 02:52 pm
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By Kevin Krekling

On his new album Late Registration, Kanye West proclaims “I think I died in that accident, ‘cause this must be heaven.” Boy, is he right. Ever since the release of his monster debut The College Dropout, Kanye has been everywhere. He went from the Grammy’s to Hurricane Katrina benefits and, most importantly, the top of the hip-hop world. His beats are going for about $75,000 a song and a 16-bar verse might cost you more. Is he worth it?

If Late Registration is any proof, the answer is a resounding yes. Knowing that it would be impossible (and boring) to make a College Dropout Vol. 2, Kanye ditches the “old soul sped-up sample” style he perfected and moves on. In an attempt to tackle some new sounds and genres, West enlists Grammy-award winning (and completely non hip-hop) Jon Brion to serve as co-producer for the album. A risky move indeed, but the gamble pays off.

The result is the best hip-hop album of the year (although 2005 was a very weak year for hip-hop) and also the most imaginative. From the syrup-sippin’ Dirty South anthem “Drive Slow,” to the baby mama-drama of “Gold Digger,” to the overdramatic, James Bond-sampling “Diamonds Are Forever,” the album is chocked full of excitement. Initially, some cuts don’t seem like they should work (who puts Maroon 5’s Adam Levine on a hip-hop song, anyways?), but they do.

The one knock on West is his mic skills. Although his flow is thought provoking, funny (“she said she want diamonds, I took her to Ruby Tuesdays”), and creative, West doesn’t have the natural voice of a Biggie Smalls or Method Man, and sometimes the music suffers. On the album’s best song, “Gone,” his vocal shortcomings are magnified when he is simply overpowered by the verses of superior MC’s such as Cam’ron and Consequence. But those moments are few and far between, so it is not worth shutting the album off. Late Registration is not The College Dropout. In many ways, it’s better.  VS

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