Kanye West Graduation

Kanye West Graduation
There’s a celebratory air around Kanye West’s third CD and rightfully so. While the hype surrounding his September 11 foe 50 Cent is strictly about sales, West predictably outstrips Mr. Jackson’s woefully anaemic Curtis on every conceivable artistic level. Not only that, West invites Lil’ Wayne, regarded in some circles as the best rapper breathing, and verbally annihilates him on "Barry Bonds.” And then miraculously, he makes T-Pain sound listenable and Michael Jackson’s "P.Y.T.” sound vaguely obscure on addictive sure-shot "Good Life.” Not content with these triumphs, West has successfully expanded his production palette, swathing most of Graduation in body-rocking synths and burying the kicks and snares way down in the mix while copping licks from Steely Dan. West’s humorous one-liners have also been brushed up for the occasion. But the party gets a little out of hand on the Mos Def-assisted "Drunk and Hot Girls,” which really should have been a 30-second interlude and not five excruciating, momentum killing minutes in length. Similarly, "Homecoming,” featuring Coldplay’s Chris Martin in a yodelling soccer yob turn, does not evoke the emotional connection a hometown ode should elicit. When West’s humility and crippling self-doubt, such endearing qualities on The College Dropout and Late Registration, finally show up, it’s on the DJ Premier-scratched "Everything I Am” and the begrudging Jay-Z dedication "Big Brother.” Stellar tracks both, but West is yearning for "stadium status.” It says here he achieves that goal but not without losing just a little bit of the vibe you would have gotten if the celebration was held in a smaller venue. (Roc-A-Fella)