Has anyone been talked about more over the last 2 months? Was it his shameless self promotion working? Or is he just that good? Well fortunately for Kanye, he has been able to do what most artists can't; capture the attention of both mainstream and underground fans. Really, if it wasn't for the Roc chain around his neck, his music would fit more comfortably in the indy scene. Regardless of where you place him, hip-hop needs Kanye. Obviously it is nice to hear his poignant production on Hot97, MTV or whatever, but this is about his rhymes. With already being a well established producer, people seemed to be quite shocked that he was also an emcee (why is that surprising these days anyway?). Yes, I know Kanye won't dazzle you with intricate wordplay and mind-warping cadence, but he more than makes up for it in ways that are more vital in today's landscape.
Kanye has tremendous charisma, uses constant voice inflictions and has a great combination of humorous and thought-provoking rhymes. His Jigga comes out with lines like "I don't know what I love more, getting laid/or getting paid/all I know is that when I'm getting one/the other is getting away." But he brings out the Talib posing questions like "why can't we make it to the booth to vote for leadership/but we can make it Jacob's and to the dealership." It's like he swims in the deep end but loves the shallow water. This contrast is further illustrated on the phenomenal and honest Jesus Walks and his hilarious guide to getting fit for gold-digging The New Workout Plan. Even Kanye's guest represent his diversity; Jay-Z, Ludacris and Freeway on one hand, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common on the other. It is no coincidence that some of the best songs result from these unions. Jay-Z drops 2 incredible verses on Never Let You Down with Kanye not far behind delivering the verse of his career. Luda lends a hook to Kanye's bouncing Breathe In Breathe Out and Talib and Common rip one of Kanye's darker efforts Get'em High. The Sense has certainly been put back in Common.
Due to the rampant bootlegging of his advance (2 versions), Kanye made some last minute trades. I was disappointed to see some of his best stuff go (Home, My Way), but I certainly can't be made at the replacements. School Spirit is a classic soulful offering that doubles as a lesson in style by Kanye. His swagger reminds me of some other rapper on Roc-A-Fella. Spaceship has to be the best of the additions, if not the best of the album. How is it that some people still hate on this man? I ask the same question after the heartwarming Family Business. Of course, the classics that created this hype are also here, Through The Wire, and Two Words.
I would say this album was worth the wait, but I'm sure many of you reading this didn't wait and have had the album in mp3 format for weeks. Do this man, and yourself, a favor and pick this album up. This is the kind of variety the mainstream scene has needed for too long and hopefully this opens the floodgates. Damn Kanye, I'm glad you dropped out of college.