GOZ reviews the 3rd studio albums from Kanye West & 50 Cent
Kanye West 2007 Graduation
For those of you that PMed me wondering when I was going to review Graduation, I thank you for your patience. Not to sound gassed up, but here it is folks; my long overdue and probably irrelevant review of Kanye West's Graduation.
First of all, I hope by now all of the Kanye/50 Cent comparisons are dead. Kanye and 50 are completely different artists. They're even more mismatched than the all-too-often-heard 2Pac/Biggie comparisons. It's like comparing ketchup and mustard. Getting to the album, everytime a new Kanye album is announced, it's like an event. Of course, the "Kanye Is God" club is pissing their pants with excitement while the "Fuck Kanye" club is thinking, "Here we go again...". So how is Graduation? Having finally listened to this album, I'm kinda surprised that Kanye took the safe route on this one. He didn't cross any lines in lyrics, beats, or songs as a whole at all. Was he influenced by the "play it safe" direction Common took on Finding Forever? In Common's case, his music has always been sorta chill and unabrasive (except Electric Circus) so playing it safe paid off for him (fuck the haters, it paid off). Kanye, on the other hand, has always been elaborate and ambitious so when he "plays it safe", it may guarantee that someone like me won't hate the album, but I can't say that I'm super happy about it. To start off, his rhymes don't improve. Unfortunately, they dumb down even more. Kanye has gone from a "producer that can rap" to a "rapping producer". His lyrics mostly deal with his fame. Despite lifelong members of the "Fuck Kanye" club trying to put him down, Kanye stays motivated and more determined. A better description is on the incredibly satisfying "Everything I Am". So what's the good news about Kanye's beats? There's good news and bad news. The good news is that his beats are still tight. The bad news is that surprisingly Kanye didn't save the best beats for himself. His production on Common's Finding Forever and the lone beat he contributed to Talib Kweli's Ear Drum are much better than the production on Graduation. I would say Kanye should step his game up, but the beats are still tight. And even the best producers have bad days once in a while. Example: RZA's dumbed down beats on ODB's Return to the 36 Chambers and 9th Wonder's generic beats on Sean Price's Monkey Barz. Should we expect high profile guests on Graduation like his first two albums had? No, again going back to Kanye "playing it safe". The only good guest is DJ Premier (my favorite Chris Martin), and he only had minimal scratches. T-Pain didn't ruin the song he's on (thank God), but he's still T-Pain. Lil' Wayne sucked ass. His rapping was sooooo shitty on "Barry Bonds". Why the hell do people keep running to Weezy for collabos? "Best rapper alive" my nuts. Actually, Dwele and the other Chris Martin (of Coldplay fame) weren't bad, but they were just the disposable sung hooks. And finally, Mos Def. Everybody loves to hate Mos Def. Instead of using "Drunk & Hot Girls" as a reason to get all up in Mos' ass like everyone else is (he didn't make THAT big a fool of himself), I'ma just forget that he did that shit. What Kanye shoulda done is have Mos spit a verse in "Barry Bonds" and shoulda left Weezy alone to spit his wack ass raps all over second-rate Dipset albums. For me, the biggest problem with Graduation is that Kanye's ambition doesn't compare to that of his first two albums. Compared to College Dropout and Late Registration, Graduation is lethargic and a bit of a letdown. That doesn't mean this album sucks. Graduation is enjoyable in its own right and it has a bunch of good (although not classic) songs. Anyone that based all of their opinion of this album on Kanye's past should check themselves. I feel that those that gave this album less than 2.5 stars is either a Kanye hater, didn't want to like this album, or both. We wouldn't see those really low ratings if this was Kanye's first album or if this was from another artist. Although Kanye set the bar really high for himself, I refuse to do some Beats, Rhymes & Life-type underrating when his next joint isn't a superclassic. I recommend Graduation only to people that don't hate Kanye or don't want to hate Kanye. No one else should bother with this album. Kanye's still cool with me, but he's too talented to come out with some standard hip-hop shit. I've always loved his "I'ma light your ass on fire" approach to his music and hope he regains that attitude when he works on his next album.
Song Quality: 7/10 (not groundbreaking, but a'ight)
Lyrics: 7/10 (ain't the same technical rapper in '04)
Beats: 9/10 (good beats, but he was too generous to his buddies productionwise)
Good Morning (Intro)
I Wonder (kinda weird, but I like it)
Good Life (despite Troutman's-Pain in the ass)
Can't Tell Me Nothing
Barry Bonds (despite the "best" rapper alive)
Everything I Am (soulful)
Drunk & Hot Girls (what the fuck is this?)
50 Cent 2007 Curtis
*Sigh* Some motherfuckers just don't learn....
Before I get to this review, I'm gonna address all the punks that are gonna flood this page with .5 star reviews yapping about the same dumb shit. First of all, those people that always whine "All 50 Cent talks about is violence, boo hoo hoo, he's too violent". First of all, 50 Cent has always had violent lyrics and always will and the lyrics have nothing to do with how he's living or actually thinks. IT'S ENTERTAINMENT!! Just like that violent ass DeNiro movie y'all probably watch every weekend. Anyone that can't see that is either an idiot to the highest degree or an attention-starved pussy (I see you hypocritical Marilyn Manson and Cannibal Corpse fans out there bitching about 50 being too violent). And for those of you that use 50 Cent to push your ignorant bullshit conclusions about a genre of music you don't know a goddamn thing about, y'all are the biggest attention-starved Ann Coulter wannabe pieces of shit on this whole fucking website. Y'all ain't Bill O'Reilly. No one wants to hear your cliche genre defamations or your shit talking. If that's what you gotta do to be a rock fan, I'd rather be a fan of any other music known to man. For the reviews that are mostly likely gonna follow mine saying something stupid like "rap is crap", the reviewer just proved his/her lack of working brain cells, relevance, or consideration for anyone else on RYM. It's not rocket science. If you despise a certain artist or genre, don't waste your time listening to it, you bloodclot motherfuckers.
Now to the review. Everybody knows that the hype built up for this album was Fif claiming that he would retire if Kanye West outsold him. What's the smart thing about that? This will give the G-Unit fanboys more of an incentive to buy the new 50 Cent instead of downloading or bootlegging. The flaw against his bold statement is that he went head-to-head with Kanye West. People still give a damn about Kanye and what he does. Look at Finding Forever (executive produced by West). That debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. If it ain't Gold now, it'll make it there eventually. Compare to the G-Unit numbers. Ever since Thoughts of a Predicate Felon failed to go Plat, every G-Unit artist since then has gone wood (Lloyd Banks, Mobb Deep, Young Buck). Yeah, 50 Cent's album will outsell all of those since it's the General instead of the flunkies, but he still won't be seein' them Get Rich or Die Tryin' or The Massacre numbers. He might as well bet that he was gonna outsell Jay-Z. But who cares about record sales and SoundScan numbers? Does Curtis live up to the hype? Well.....remember at the end of The Massacre review I said that if I even listen to the next 50 Cent album, I probably wouldn't rate it higher than 2 stars? I hit the nail right on the head. Curtis proves to all of us that if you've heard Get Rich or Die Tryin' already, there's nothing more to 50 Cent. Nothing on Curtis is remotely different from Get Rich.. or The Massacre. 50 obviously overestimates his charisma. Just because Redman has gotten away with all the same subject matter since 1990 doesn't mean 50 Cent can get away without offering anything new since 2003. I'm not saying that 50 has to step out of his comfort zone nor do I expect him to stop rapping about guns, drugs, money, and women. But without the charisma, these same ol' subjects get boring and monotonous. And 50 Cent does NOT have the charisma. His laziness and his recycled material are the biggest problems with his performance. On a technical level, 50's about the same as he's always been. Not great, but not bad. And he still has the same habit of saying something so stupid or messed up, it's somehow funny ("doors lift up/I'm like 'Go Go Gadget'"). The production here is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a good beat ("Amusement Park") and other times you get a wack beat (I coulda sworn I heard the beat to "My Gun Go Off" somewhere on Encore). The beats are the best part of this album. They help make the far-and-few so-so songs better and some of the wack songs tolerable. The worst part of this album are the songs themselves. Even with 50 Cent's dying charisma, this album could've been passable. There are a only a couple bangers here. The rest are either filler or corny garbage. Any song that doesn't end up on my "Least Favorites" list, I was being generous. This really ain't a good album at all (especially the end of the album). I only recommend this to G-Unit fans. Although the numbers of them are diminishing, they'll probably like this, maybe even more than The Massacre (Curtis is more street than that one). I doubt anyone else will like this. No matter how unimpressive Graduation is, Kanye would have to be on crack to do worse than this. I'm not gonna say that 50's next album will be worse than this, but I doubt it'll be all that great. Even though he's not going to, 50 Cent should retire and become a businessman fulltime. There are lots of ways the man could make money. Rapping ain't one of them anymore.
Song Quality: 3.5/10 (boring, heard it all before gangsta rap)
Lyrics: 5/10 (heard it all before)
Beats: 6.5/10 (some good, some bad)
Follow My Lead (corny lyrics, but I like the piano-driven beat)
Movin' On Up (wack rhymes, but cool beat)
Fully Loaded Clip (so bad, it's good)
My Gun Go Off (wack rhymes, wack beat)
Man Down (stupid as hell)
I'll Still Kill (Akon's thug crooning got annoying)
Come & Go (what the hell, Dr. Dre?!)
Ayo Technology (not feeling that futuristic Timbo stuff at all)
Straight to the Bank (annoying "ha ha ha" crap)
Peep Show (50 and Em's version of "You Owe Me")
Curtis 187 (booooooriiiing!)
Touch the Sky