Kanye West's sophomore effort, Late Registration, is out in stores now. Quick summary if you don't want to read anything else: Go get it.
Hip-hop has really never matured since its inception. Too many albums speak exclusively about money, drugs, cars, bitches, violence. In one respect, listening to hip-hop is like watching classic gangster movies: Scarface, Goodfellas, The Godfather -- Sometimes you like to root for the bad guy. And imagine living that kind of life: cars, women, jewelery, everything you've ever wanted. But eventually, you want to watch more than just gangster movies.
Kanye West is the breath of fresh air in the fog of monotonous rap artists. Very few artists have been able to create a unique sound, speak about more than material possesions, and gain mainstream success. Kanye has done just that.
What makes Late Registration so appealing is that Kanye is sharing his personal life with all of us. In "Roses", he shares his family's fears of losing their grandmother. In "Hey Mama", Kanye recounts his mother's role in his upbringing. The album explores his anxieties and triumphs: The story of the underdog that was always told he'd never make it, but went ahead and proved them wrong.
What's more, he does it with his usual wit and humour. From "Roses":
I asked the nurse "did you do the research?"
She ask me, "can you sign some t-shirts?"
Accompanying the lyrical content is solid Kanye West production. He wasn't joking on his first album when he says he saved all the best beats for himself. The big singles, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", and "Golddigger" are a testament to that. You are hearing a mesh between hip-hop, gospel, live instruments, and sampling from 70's and 80's classics. It is the new hip-hop.
Nas is featured in "We Major." I've always dreamed about Nas on a Kanye West beat, but figured we would never see it because of beef between Nas and Jay-Z. Although Nas' verse isn't the strongest, the possibility of the two collaborating again is enough to get me excited.
This is the only thing I've been listening to for the past two weeks. Well, that, and Tearria Mari, but you guys don't need to know about that. Let's stay focused here -- Kanye West. Late Registration. Hot shit. Cop it now. It's the ROC!