Late Registration

Kanye West

Roc-A-Fella, 2005

http://www.kanyewest.com

REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/04/2007

It was impossible to predict the direction Kanye West was going to go after his monumental debut The College Dropout. He could have easily used the exact same formula, gained even more commercial success and still held on to his fan base. Instead, West decided to go in a very different direction, which happens to be Late Registration’s yin and yang.

Kanye brought in Jon Brion, a very non-hip-hop producer, to help him create a slightly darker album, and this is evident immediately. Whereas Dropout started out with “We Don’t Care,” a middle finger to critics of the ghetto, Registration opens with the somber and almost hopeless “Heard ‘Em Say,” a very different introduction. Not to say Kanye lost his swagger, but the different opening definitely sends a message; what that is may be for the listener to figure out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Like Dropout, Registration contains numerous quality guest appearances. Common provides Kanye with an unbelievable verse on “My Way Home.” Jay-Z and Kanye get together again on the “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix),” which includes a very clever transition. Nas assists Kanye on the longest track on the album, “We Major.” Lupe Fiasco appears on “Touch The Sky,” a rare upbeat moment on the album, and it’s also produced by Just Blaze (the only track not produced by Kanye).

Kanye does a great job of tying this album together, with the consistency of production and the very clever skits containing a fake fraternity Broke Phi Broke. The fraternity serves as a metaphor for the rap game in general, and is apparent when the frat is constantly criticizing Kanye for having new shoes and just being different in general (Lil’ Jon’s signature “WHAT “ is even present in “Skit #4”).

It is quite clear that Kanye’s focus on Registration was the production. Every track is meticulous with detail and creates a defiant atmosphere for the respective song. The problem is when Kanye slacks lyrically on songs like the glamorized “Addiction,” the unnecessary “Bring Me Down” and possibly his worst song to date, “Celebration.” The tune is not a bad song, it just really lacks lyrically. Kanye of all people should know hip-hop does not need another song about partying, especially one that does nothing out of the ordinary.

The highlight of Registration does not come until the twentieth track, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” The lead single serves as an update to what Kanye has been up to since Dropout, and displays his trademark honesty and wit at its finest.

Registration is a great achievement in production and creativity. It shows that we really have no idea where Kanye will go with his next release, and while he falters a little lyrically here, he still is the best commercial rapper today.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 Ben Ehrenreich and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roc-A-Fella, and is used for informational purposes only.