If you tell a music fan to think of the year 2005, and then mention the word “controversy”, many will immediately think to hip hop superstar Kanye West. His criticism towards President Bush on the subject of Hurricane Katrina was without question the most publicized of his actions, but West has an ego that is virtually uncontrollable all on its own, even without considering specific events like his Katrina comments. Still, with the huge ego comes a talent that mainstream hip hop has not seen in years. While emcees like Nas and Jay-Z could get on a mic and light up a track with their words, Kanye West can also do it from behind the boards, as he is one of the best producers in hip hop today. He is the most complete, talented artist in this genre of music, but would he hit a sophomore slump with Late Registration?
After a short intro, the album kicks off with “Heard ‘Em Say”, and on first listen, this track will likely surprise many listeners, as the whole song puts off such a lounge feel. The beat is beautiful, Kanye’s verses are great, but the highlight is the vocal work of Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine. Kanye West himself said it best, “This dude’s [Levine] voice is an instrument.” An incredible opening track, and the best song on the album. “Heard ‘Em Say” is the first part of an insane 1-2 punch to start off this album. The second half is “Touch the Sky”, produced by Just Blaze, and Blaze nearly shows up Kanye West on his own album. This beat is tremendous in every way, from the drum kick, to the blaring horn work, it all comes together so seamlessly. It’s a drastic change of pace, as “Heard ‘Em Say” was so chill, and “Touch the Sky” is very upbeat.
The torrid pace of the album continues with the lead off single “Gold Digger”, featuring Jamie Foxx. While the opening tracks were very unique in terms of production, this is more of a straight hip hop beat. While not complex, the beat is very good for the drum kick alone. Kanye’s lyrics are very clever and down to Earth, and Jamie Foxx, as always, is exceptional. I don’t think Foxx puts on quite the same performance that he did on the track “Slow Jamz”, which can be found on West’s debut LP The College Dropout, but he is a terrific vocalist, plain and simple. If you’re a fan of drum work in hip hop beats, look no further than “Crack Music”. The drum roll is incredible, to the point where it basically makes up the entire beat and is complemented by very catchy background vocals. Kanye West’s mic work is very good on this track, and the lyrics are a nice display of self-expression, which is what hip hop’s all about. The bridge is terrific, and really puts the song into overdrive, with Kanye simply saying “God, how could you let this happen?” He’s not always this emotional of an emcee, but when he gets into this stage, it really is something for your ears to behold.
Don’t tell Kanye West about a supposed sophomore slump, he wasn’t hearing it when he recorded Late Registration. This album, musically, is better than his highly praised debut The College Dropout, but the main complaint that I have with this album is that the raw emotion he displayed on The College Dropout simply wasn’t present in most cases on Late Registration. Regardless, Kanye West has composed a diverse collection of 21 songs that range from chill, to upbeat, to flat out raw hip hop. Love this guy or hate him with a passion, he stood up in the face of hype, doubt, and incredible expectation to deliver the best hip hop release of 2005.
Don’t tell Kanye West about a supposed sophmore slump, he wasn’t hearing it when he recorded Late Registration. This album, musically, is better than his highly praised debut The College Dropout, but the main complaint that I have with this album is that the raw emotion he displayed on The College Dropout simply wasn’t present in most cases on Late Registration. Regardless, Kanye West has composed a diverse collection of 21 songs that range from chill, to upbeat, to flat out raw hip hop.
Right on the money. I couldn't describe my own feelings on this album any more accurately. Nice review.
I haven't heard much of this album, but what I heard, I've liked.
I'm not much of a fan of modern rap. I normally listen to older stuff like NWA and Public Enemy.
This guy though, I'll have to check out.