SYNDICATE
Posted by: Dave on September 5, 2005 at 11:14 pm

2004 was the year Kane West seized the hip hop world with his debut album The College Dropout. Not only did it sell a couple million copies and win the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, it was also the undisputed album of the year on many critics’ lists (including mine). Topping these feats in 2005 would seem daunting, but he came out strong by introducing us to John Legend (who’s signed to Kanye’s boutique label and released one of the year’s best albums) and by producing the majority of and performing on a portion of Common’s excellent album Be. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave as much of the magic for his own album. Lyrically, he’s less vital and witty this time. He tackled religious, social, economic and educational issues with critical insight, honesty and humor on The College Dropout. That broad-reaching appeal has turned inward as he addresses more personal issues and takes the more conventional approach of reacting to and flaunting his new-found fame. On the other hand, he continues to expand the parameters of hip hop production. Collaborating with Jon Brion (best known for his captivating, string-laden arrangements with Fiona Apple and Aimee Mann) on several tracks has brought a richer, more cinematic flavor to his sound. Together, they create some of the high points on the album and in hip hop this year, but they also concoct some pretty forgettable moments. Though uneven and a far cry from the convention-smashing classic The College Dropout, Late Registration is certainly more fulfilling than most commercial hip hop today. Considering all of his accomplishments in 2005, Kanye West remains one of the most exciting and important forces in music.
Heavy Rotation tracks:Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” (featuring Jay-Z) (Top 20 Songs of 2005 Candidate); “Gold Digger” (Top 20 Songs of 2005 Candidate); “Drive Slow” (featuring Paul Wall); “Gone” (featuring Cam’Ron)
Medium Rotation tracks:Touch the Sky“; “Heard ‘Em Say
Grade: B+

(As posted 9/5/05 on davepowersmusic.com)
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