Friday, September 02, 2005

Kanye's Second Effort Is Beautifully Human

Kanye West just happens to be the biggest contradiction in pop culture right now, second to President Bush. His immaculate music is fronted by gaudy rhymes. His consciousness is mixed liberally with bling anthems. Hell, he followed a song featuring his boss and Def Jam CEO Jay-Z with his nemesis Nas. Critics don’t know whether to praise West for his confidence or condemn his for his arrogance.

Following the critically acclaimed The College Dropout, West’s Late Registration is a mix of multi-dimensional musical arrangements and ferocious cockiness. With the assistance of Jon Brion (known for his hauntingly deep and cooky arrangements), West is mainly on point with concepts, his only missteps being his own fault. On Diamonds from Sierra Leone, which is assumingly West’s favorite song on the album as he is more passionate on it than the others, the high concept and arrangements are shortsighted by his hollow content. Even with the assistant of the Roc’s Jay-Z, neither seems to give their best over the James Bond sample and evocative beat.

Addiction is a melodic trip through compulsion that is deprived by West’s sing-talky rhymes. However, those same flat rhymes are what make many of the songs on the CD pop with flavor. Crack Music featuring The Game is a political anthem speaking about the rise in popularity of hip hop. On Roses, West’s real-life shines through brilliantly on the simple track. Common is dynamic on My Way Home, a solo reprise over a down-trodden Gil Scott Heron sample.

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine lends his flavorful tenor to Heard ‘Em Say, which is the least Kanye could do after belly-aching for losing Best New Artist at last year’s American Music Awards along side them. The radio-friendly Gold Digger featuring Jamie Foxx provides lots of club discussion about needy women. And Nas on We Major is one of the best cuts on the CD as the rappers celebrate their artistry. Celebration is a believable anthem in the same vein of Major, with an arrangement that may make you want to ease on down the yellow brick road.

Despite an album nearly full of bangers, Kanye missteps with an overt collab with Brandy called Bring Me Down. Drive Slow featuring Paul Wall and GLC will probably be the next single, though West’s verse denounces excess while the Southern rappers boast of it.

The best element of Late Registration is its background, as I heard sounds from above, behind and all around the lyrics, which was candy for my ears. The biggest contradiction about Kanye West is that he is no lyricist, yet his simplistic rhymes provide the perfect foreground for his innovative and spectacular beats. He’s at his best when he works hardest on meshing his beats with his basic (sometimes crude) raps. With this album, Kanye is well on his way to becoming one of rap’s hottest entertainers.


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At 7:52 AM, Anonymous belladawn said...

I really enjoyed the kanye cd.. i thought it was really hot!
i love diamonds from sierra leonne especially the remix! i heard that the japanese version has more songs than the 1 we have here? has any1 heard the unreleased tracks?


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