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Kanye West|Graduation

Graduation

Kanye West

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Graduation's pre-leak talk wasn't as substantive as it was with Kanye West's first two albums. As with just about any other artist's third album, it had to be expected. The College Dropout was one of the most anticipated debuts of the early 2000s, while Late Registration had people wondering why Kanye would feel the need to work so extensively with multi-instrumentalist rock producer Jon Brion (the J Dilla of the chamberlin) and whether or not Kanye's hubristic tendencies would get the better of it. With Graduation, there was Takashi Murakami's artwork, a silly first-week sales competition with the decreasingly relevant 50 Cent, and chatter about synthesizers running wild. That was about it, but it all seemed loud and prevalent, due in part to a lack of high-profile rap albums released in 2007. Graduation is neither as bold nor as scattered as The College Dropout, and it's neither as extroverted nor as sonically rich as Late Registration. Kanye still makes up for his shortcomings as an MC and lyricist by remaining charmingly clumsy, frequently dealing nonsense through suspect rhyme schemes: "I never be picture-perfect Beyoncé/Be light as Al B. or black as Chauncey/Remember him from Blackstreet, he was black as the street was/I never be laid-back as this beat was." The songs that are thematically distanced, introspective, and/or wary -- there are many of them -- are, in turn, made more palatable than insufferable. That his humor remains a constant is a crucial aspect of the album, especially considering that most other MCs would sound embittered and hostile if they were handling similar subjects, like haters new and old, being a braggart with a persistent underdog complex, getting wrapped up in spending and flaunting, and the many hassles of being a hedonist. Those who have admired Kanye as a sharp producer while detesting him as an inept MC might find the gleaming synth sprites, as heard most prominently throughout "Flashing Lights" and "Stronger," to be one of the most glaring deal-breakers in hip-hop history. Though the synthesizer use marks a clear, conscious diversion from Kanye's past productions, highlights like "I Wonder," "The Glory," and "Everything I Am" are deeply rooted in the Kanye of old, using nostalgia-inducing samples, elegant pianos and strings, and gospel choirs. So, no, he's not dreaming of fronting A Flock of Seagulls or joining Daft Punk. He's being his shrewd, occasionally foolish, and adventurous self.

© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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Graduation

Kanye West

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1
Good Morning Explicit
00:03:15

Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Bernie Taupin, ComposerLyricist - Elton John, ComposerLyricist - Jay-Z, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Andy Chatterley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Matty Green, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nate Hertweck, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Connie Mitchell, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bram Tobey, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Agel, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tony "Penafire" Williams, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Champion Explicit
00:02:46

Donald Fagen, ComposerLyricist - Kanye West, Producer, Co-Producer, Writer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Palazzole, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - WALTER BECKER, ComposerLyricist - Nate Hertweck, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Marcinkowski, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Connie Mitchell, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bram Tobey, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Agel, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Brian Miller, Producer - Tony "Penafire" Williams, Additional Vocals, Writer, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Stronger Explicit
00:05:11

Mike Dean, Guitar, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Edwin Birdsong, ComposerLyricist - Lamar Edwards, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Timbaland, Programmer - Jared Robbins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - MANNY MARROQUIN, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Chatterley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Thomas Bangalter, ComposerLyricist - Nate Hertweck, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, ComposerLyricist - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bram Tobey, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Agel, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ A-Trak, AssociatedPerformer, Turntablist - Kengo Sakura, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Seiji Sekine, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kengo Sakurai, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
I Wonder Explicit
00:04:03

Larry Gold, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Luigi Mazzochi, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Nate Hertweck, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Olga Konopelsky, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Emma Kummrow, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Nocella, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - JON BRION, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Igor Szwec, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Charles Parker, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Jennie Lorenzo, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Bram Tobey, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Piano, Synthesizer Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Labi Siffre, ComposerLyricist - Jason Agel, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Koller, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gloria Justen, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Dale Parsons, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Tim Ressler, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Alexandria Leen, Viola, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Good Life Explicit
00:03:26

Faheem Najm, ComposerLyricist - A. Davis, ComposerLyricist - Mike Dean, Producer, String Arranger, Additional Producer, Mix Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Craig King, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Paul Sheehy, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Timbaland, Drum Programmer, AssociatedPerformer - James Ingram, ComposerLyricist - T-Pain, FeaturedArtist - Quincy Jones, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stephens, ComposerLyricist - Richard Dodd, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Daphne Chen, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Eric Gorfain, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Nate Hertweck, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Marcinkowski, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Legend, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Alma Fernandez, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - John Krovoza, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Leah Katz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Ne-Yo, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Toomp, Producer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bram Tobey, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Piano, Synthesizer Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Agel, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Can't Tell Me Nothing Explicit
00:04:31

Aldrin Davis, ComposerLyricist - Mike Dean, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Nate Hertweck, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Marcinkowski, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Connie Mitchell, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Richard Reitz, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Young Jeezy, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - DJ Toomp, Producer - Bram Tobey, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Tony Rey, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jason Agel, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Rob, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Darryl Beaton, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Barry Bonds Explicit
00:03:24

Mike Dean, Keyboards, Mix Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Felix Pappalardi, ComposerLyricist - Leslie Weinstein, ComposerLyricist - Norman Landsberg, ComposerLyricist - Lil Wayne, FeaturedArtist - Kanye West, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - D. Carter, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - J. Ventura, ComposerLyricist - Andy Marcinkowski, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nottz, Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - D. Sloan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Dominick "Nottz" Lamb, ComposerLyricist - Vincent "Biggs" James, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Drunk and Hot Girls Explicit
00:05:13

Mike Dean, String Arranger, Mix Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mos Def, FeaturedArtist - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Andy Chatterley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Palazzole, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Richard Dodd, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Daphne Chen, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Eric Gorfain, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Andy Marcinkowski, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jaki Liebezeit, ComposerLyricist - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - JON BRION, Producer, Additional Producer - Leah Katz, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - The Section Quartet, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Irmin Schmidt, ComposerLyricist - Bram Tobey, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Synthesizer Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Agel, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - H. Schuering, ComposerLyricist - Michael Karoli, ComposerLyricist - Kenji Suzuki, ComposerLyricist - Greg Koller, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tanya Herron, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Dale Parsons, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Flashing Lights Explicit
00:03:57

Eric Hudson, Producer, Unknown, Other, ComposerLyricist - Larry Gold, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Luigi Mazzochi, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Dwele, Additional Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Matty Green, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Olga Konopelsky, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Emma Kummrow, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Andy Marcinkowski, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Peter Nocella, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Dawson, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Connie Mitchell, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Igor Szwec, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Charles Parker, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Jennie Lorenzo, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Gloria Justen, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - DJ A-Trak, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Tony "Penafire" Williams, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Tim Ressler, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Alexandria Leen, Viola, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Everything I Am Explicit
00:03:48

Carlton Ridenhour, ComposerLyricist - Mike Dean, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Eric Sadler, ComposerLyricist - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - George Clinton, ComposerLyricist - Nate Hertweck, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Marcinkowski, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Premier, FeaturedArtist - Hank Shocklee, ComposerLyricist - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Premiere, Unknown, Other - Bram Tobey, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Synthesizer Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Agel, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Prince Phillip Mitchell, ComposerLyricist - Tony "Penafire" Williams, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
The Glory Explicit
00:03:32

Laura Nyro, ComposerLyricist - Felix Pappalardi, ComposerLyricist - Leslie Weinstein, ComposerLyricist - John Ventura, ComposerLyricist - Norman Landsberg, ComposerLyricist - Dante Smith, ComposerLyricist - Mos Def, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Andy Chatterley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Matty Green, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Nate Hertweck, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Legend, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Rosie Danvers, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gee Roberson, Producer, Co-Producer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bram Tobey, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Omar Edwards, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Agel, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Wired Strings, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - TommyD, Producer, Additional Producer - Patrick Reynolds, Producer, Co-Producer - Jehireh Williams, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Jalil Williams, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Homecoming Explicit
00:03:23

A. Williams, ComposerLyricist - Warryn Campbell, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Mike Dean, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Chris Martin, Additional Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Anthony Palazzole, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Matty Green, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Marcinkowski, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - JON BRION, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Kilhoffer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Sean Cooper, Unknown, Other - Bruce Buechner, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Big Brother Explicit
00:04:46

A. Davis, ComposerLyricist - Paul Sheehy, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Kanye West, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Andy Marcinkowski, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Toomp, Producer - Dale Parsons, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

14
Good Night Explicit
00:03:05

W. Maragh, ComposerLyricist - Mike Dean, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - A. Reid, ComposerLyricist - Jason Miller, Producer - Mos Def, Additional Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kanye West, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - E. Beckford, ComposerLyricist - Andrew Dawson, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Plain Pat, Programmer - Omar Edwards, Bass Programming, AssociatedPerformer - J. Miller, ComposerLyricist - Al Be Back, FeaturedArtist - Albert Daniels, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2007 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album review

Graduation's pre-leak talk wasn't as substantive as it was with Kanye West's first two albums. As with just about any other artist's third album, it had to be expected. The College Dropout was one of the most anticipated debuts of the early 2000s, while Late Registration had people wondering why Kanye would feel the need to work so extensively with multi-instrumentalist rock producer Jon Brion (the J Dilla of the chamberlin) and whether or not Kanye's hubristic tendencies would get the better of it. With Graduation, there was Takashi Murakami's artwork, a silly first-week sales competition with the decreasingly relevant 50 Cent, and chatter about synthesizers running wild. That was about it, but it all seemed loud and prevalent, due in part to a lack of high-profile rap albums released in 2007. Graduation is neither as bold nor as scattered as The College Dropout, and it's neither as extroverted nor as sonically rich as Late Registration. Kanye still makes up for his shortcomings as an MC and lyricist by remaining charmingly clumsy, frequently dealing nonsense through suspect rhyme schemes: "I never be picture-perfect Beyoncé/Be light as Al B. or black as Chauncey/Remember him from Blackstreet, he was black as the street was/I never be laid-back as this beat was." The songs that are thematically distanced, introspective, and/or wary -- there are many of them -- are, in turn, made more palatable than insufferable. That his humor remains a constant is a crucial aspect of the album, especially considering that most other MCs would sound embittered and hostile if they were handling similar subjects, like haters new and old, being a braggart with a persistent underdog complex, getting wrapped up in spending and flaunting, and the many hassles of being a hedonist. Those who have admired Kanye as a sharp producer while detesting him as an inept MC might find the gleaming synth sprites, as heard most prominently throughout "Flashing Lights" and "Stronger," to be one of the most glaring deal-breakers in hip-hop history. Though the synthesizer use marks a clear, conscious diversion from Kanye's past productions, highlights like "I Wonder," "The Glory," and "Everything I Am" are deeply rooted in the Kanye of old, using nostalgia-inducing samples, elegant pianos and strings, and gospel choirs. So, no, he's not dreaming of fronting A Flock of Seagulls or joining Daft Punk. He's being his shrewd, occasionally foolish, and adventurous self.

© Andy Kellman /TiVo

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