In case you missed it (I’m sure you didn’t), on January 28, 2016, Kanye West went on a full out ape s–t rant against our guy Wiz Khalifa. Among the things said in Ye’s rant was his lack of respect for Wiz’s jeans, and that Mr. Khalifas baby was owned by him (Ouch)… We won’t dive in to what nightmare, drug, or lack thereof a drug made Kanye spaz, but we will focus on one of the hidden proclamations he said in his rant: His insistence that he is the ‘greatest artist of all time’. Logically, the first artists that come to my mind when I think ‘Greatest of All Time” are Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and hell, even his own protege Jay-Z….Not necessarily Kanye. We examined, analyzed, and debated what it took to be considered the greatest artist of all time, and concluded that it is your body of work that determines it. Well up until Yeezus (which was dog food), Kanye brought out some pretty classic albums; we can argue for days which one was the best, and one day we WILL come to that conclusion here on ‘The Ratings Game”, but in the mean time, we’ll rate my personal favorite Kanye album ‘Graduation’.
5. BIG BROTHER (5/5)
Wait a second…..This man actually has feelings? That caught me off guard a bit.
On this song, Kanye is spilling his feelings about the man that put him on (Nooooo not Dame Dash fool, Jay-Z!). I don’t know about you, but to me this song just comes across as a bit phony… Deep down I don’t think Kanye likes Jay-Z, but hey, if they said we should believe they have a friendship then I’m gonna believe it.
The track has a significant build up as Kanye makes his case to why he approached Jay-Z in the first place. The beat then shows it’s complete face near the end of his first verse: It’s rockstar-like, mixed with soulful elements, sprinkled in with some hard hitting baselines.
The content would be described as storytelling. It is extremely descriptive down to a tee.
4. CAN’T TELL ME NOTHING (5/5)
I don’t give a f–k! I don’t care about anything! F work! F pronouncing words correctly n—a! F what ya’ll got to say about me! That is the vibe I immediately get from this track.
The womans voice only adds to the songs gutter: It’s a woman trying to tame this animal that wants to slap the hell out of everything!
Kanye is rapping as arrogant as possible on this track: He’s rapping slowly, aggressively, and nonchalant. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was grabbing his planters nuts while laying this verse down in the booth.
His content is finger pointingesque. “You’re the reason I became this! You’re the reason I pee on the toilet seat and don’t wipe it”!
His flow is not structured, and at times are not quite rhyming… This adds to the gutterness.
Jeezy’s adlibs add that stamp of hood approval to the song. Lord knows Kanye is not the poster boy for gutter, but Jeezy just might be, so an occasional “YEA”, or an occasional “HAHA” let’s the people know he has some certified hood support.
The song is great, and should be played before you go to court for child support payments.
3. EVERYTHING I AM (5/5)
The song starts with pianos that feels like it’s bringing you back to your childhood. It is immediately followed by some DJ scratches which brings out the 80’s rap dislodged deeply in your soul. It’s like Linus from Charlie Brown went to the club with DJ Marley Marl!
I love how the song switches tempos in the middle of each verse: It starts off sorta laid back, then the pace picks up. It keeps your ears on edge, which is necessary for a track that is simple.
I thought saying that this was Common’s song set the tone for this song. It pretty much let the listener know that he was gonna fit in to the beat even if ya’ll don’t think he can.
The song is the soundtrack to the ultimate underdog story. No soulful chorus, no major vocals, just honesty. All you need to do for a track like this is listen to his words.
2. GOOD LIFE (5/5)
After Flashing Lights, it’s a roll of dice in terms of what the next best song is, and I personally chose ‘Good Life’ as that second best song. What you have to keep in mind about this song is the time period when it was created: T-Pain was on top, Kanye was happy, and there was a lack of quality music. Nowadays T-Pain works at Pier 1, a few new quality rap artists such as Kendrick and J. Cole have arrived, and Souljaboy is dead.
The most important aspect about this track is it’s glow: It’s exuberant and full of energy. Kanye is coasting through the verses without a care to appease. It’s refreshing, It’s natural!
T-Pain’s adlibing and content on the chorus is chilling, as it’s effortless, but at the same time powerful.
1. FLASHING LIGHTS (5/5)
Flashing lights is the best song on the album, and there is no contest. Kanye West is that one artist that shines when he lets everyone else on a song shine, and on this song, he lets Dwele, the beat, and the dull voiced lady robot shine bright! The smooth symphony-like sounds blend in perfectly with the sporadic piano playing sound, which is topped off with a hip hop rooted sound consisting of heavy hitting 808’s. It’s masterful!
You would think Kanye’s rap style would give in to the cinematic feel of the track, but he doesn’t, and that’s why we love him! To sum it up: The structure of the song is like a luxury restaurant, and Kanye is trying to pay for his meal with food stamps!
Dwele’s part is the absolute opposite of Kanyes: It’s passionate, heartfelt, and appropriate for the production. When you mix that in with Kanye, you get a blend of two styles which usually tends to lead to beautiful art!
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
HOT: Flashing Lights, Good Life, Everything I am, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Big Brother, Champion, Drunken Hot Girls, THE WHOLE ALBUM DAMNIT!
HOT ASS: NONE
OVERALL RATING (9.3/10)
This album is very underrated, and I think that is because in a way it is very innocent. The fact that the album is innocent is significant, because it is coming from Kanye West who today is someone comparable to satan. All jokes aside, Kanye plays with several different moods on this album, and opens up in ways that he doesn’t in person or in his future albums.
What’s bittersweet about this album is its timing: It was released a few months before his mothers untimely death, so it really displays how his life was before losing a part of himself. His problems he describes on this album are minuscule as opposed to what he battles with today. How do I know? Because I lost my mother around the same time, and I can relate to the struggle that presents itself thereafter. I’ve always appreciated this album probably more than the next person, and ask for your forgiveness if you think because of that I am a bit bias in it’s rating….