Hypocritical Hyperbole

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Late Registration April 28, 2013

Filed under: Music — Micah Griffin @ 10:41
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Wake up Mr. West. It’s time for your sophomore album.

Heard ‘Em Say

A belief of mine is that the opening track of an album is way beyond important. It colors your view of the entire album. Frontload an album with something great and the good vibes take you through. Songs about being black in america never get old for me. Especially when they’re as well crafted and divergent as this song is. I can’t get enough of it.

Touch the Sky

duuuuuuuuuuuuuude, these horns. What’s better than an awesome intro. Two killer songs in a row. First pianos  then horns. I love horns. The world needs more big brass sections. This was also my introduction to Lupe Fiasco.  This song is just throwing good vibes everywhere. It has a weird sort of nostalgia feeling that’s difficult to pin down. If more radio rappers talked for serious about how they grew up in the game and the struggles they went through and the life they were living at the time I might listen to the radio. It’s so rare to hear someone as big as Kanye was even at this time just talk about the mundanities of every day life for someone trying to get signed.

Also, love Curtis Mayfield

Gold Digger

Jamie Foxx really thinks he’s Ray Charles, which is cool with me. This is a song that’s much smarter than it’s given credit for. On it’s surface it’s stupid hating stuff or whatever, about gold diggers and other shit stupid people say, but you gotta listen to it. You might learn something, like Kanye West learning about the way small super insular dating circles of celebrities. Shit’s a trip. This song isn’t about people, it’s about that really fucking weird subsection of pretty rich people.  The second verse does perpetuate misinformation about how child support payments actually work. I have some books on the subject if Kanye is interested. Thing is, it’s noted that gold digging is a hustle and if you gonna be out here treatin women bad and like they’re some sort of commodity this is the life you live and you can’t get anything close to mad about them flipping the game on you.

The third verse is awesome. The way the beat switches up here is actually a pretty classic trick, doesn’t make it any less effective.  It’s just a separation of parts. Simple and beautiful. It’s there the whole time. Listen on vinyl.


Drive Slow

I’m going to attempt to put into words something that doesn’t work in a literary medium. The way the beats drop on this song, in conjuction with the oregon, with the synth voice in the background, with the saxophone note coming in occasionally  with the midi clarinet, the high hat hits. All of it, it’s wizardry. The slow motion of this song without actually being chopped and screwed, it’s. . . I don’t know. It’s really great. The first time I heard this song I didn’t hear a single word Kanye said. Sometimes I still miss the first verse. This is what good music does.

The thing about hearing music you’ve created pump out through someone’s speakers is so real though. That shit gives you fucking super powers.

Paul wall was a thing, you remember that?

That beat is still kicking it, and it doesn’t change. I’m always suckered in by interplay between two rappers. The sort of two man game that springs up has really high potential.

Then it gets screwed. And I died. My spirit just left my body.

My Way Home

A common track found it’s way to Kanye’s album. Weird. Common is cool. Sometimes too boring and caught up in being common, but often times just really good. He is so good at what he does. Just a slow and steady flow of rhymes. Then it’s just a beautiful old R&B song. Like, this Kanye is my favorite Kanye.

Crack Music,

This is my Kanye. This is my Rap Music. This is my life.

This is what I live for in music. This is a religious experience. From the hard basss drum kicks with the smooth snare into the high hats all the way to the synth horn to the lyrics. This is where I fell head over heels in love with Kanye West. Want an introduction to radical black theory? Listen to this song. Seriously. This is the intro to black nationalism. This is a pure distillation of everything I had to learn outside of school and my parents as a child. Right up into the questioning of God, which is something that was not something to do in thinking about the sort of prototypical black american experience.  The thing about the black panthers is spot on. The stuff about just the grimey parts of growing up in substandared living conditions hits hard.

Then we get poetry and with the beat behind it it’s a crucial piece of the entire song.


This is the only song you need to dispute everything everyone ever says negatively about rap music. Everything. The beginning is so painful and just overloaded with thick emotions. I know how it feels to sit around a hospital room not knowing what’s going on and if someone is going to make it and how long every second feels. All the things we say to each other in that situation, the deep hopelessness that exist because there’s NOTHING you can do. You manufacture things to do and try to learn everything you can knowing that it is all ultimately useless.

This is another frontloaded rap song. The reasons behind this one are different though. it is supposed to leave you with a different feeling than you had at the beginning of the song. He stops rapping on a purely happy note and that changes the timbre of the melody for the next two minutes. Nothing in the music actually changes, but just the spark of good news gives this an entirely different feeling. That’s just good music.

Bring Me Down

This song has a whole lot going on in it. There’s this dancing of the piano and strings over good old fashioned hip hop drums that carries a lot of feeling with it. Brandy is putting it fantastic work here as well, and her voice is well suited to what is going on here.  As toned down as this younger Kanye West is you see the path he’s taking. This song, as much as the album as a whole, is a confidence builder. It’s sort of a self reassurance exercise.

The opening line here is six levels beyond brilliant. It needs a standing ovation. Listen to it again.

I still have a sort of love for this early Kanye where songs played with conventional set ups by frontloading them.


This is just a song that I like.  It’s so understated. It’s just Kanye’s voice and not as many bells and whistles going on. It’s a song about sex. And it’s not objectifying and it’s not skeevy in really any way. It’s just a song about sex. That’s awesome. There are so many places this song could fall apart and it doesn’t. I didn’t realize it was Etta James in the background until I was listening to an old album of hers and just heard the line. It’s also about drugs and alcohol, but in the context of sex as well. People should strive for this sort of thing more. Nothing against lude sex songs, but there’s something very nice about a song being this subdued and relaxing. There’s a negotiation for a threesome that’s hilarious.

Diamonds from Sierra Leone [The Remix]

Shirley Basset really could belt it out in the 70s. She kicked the shit out of all those James Bond Songs.

This song is so fucking real. This applies to so much more than just diamonds. It’s about everything we do in life. Diamonds, gold, leather, shoes, computers, smart phones, clothes and jeans, and cameras and all that shit. All of what we do is built on exploitative labor and the histories of these labor markets are just gross and disgusting.

But are we going to give any of it up? Nope!

Hey! It’s Jay-Z! What’s he rapping about? Jaz-Z? You got it! Did you know he sold cocaine? He’s also a business. Which is true. I love when Jay-Z verses on Kanye tracks just keep going.

We Major

FUCK DUDE. This is my jam. This gets me up in the morning when I can’t muster it much myself. This gets me to work when I’m not really feeling it. This gets me out of a bad funk. This song makes my day better. Just turn the volume all the way up and let it soak through you.

Now, it’s annoying that he traffics in the stupid women are someone else’s property thing with the idea that you won’t like creepin on chicks when it’s your daughter.

The rest of the song is dope though.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else actually says. We’re just having a good time here. Just having that trumpet circulate through the blood stream is enough. That synth drum hit is so staccato.  The harshness provides cotrast for the rest of the song.  Really Doe just lays down life affirmation in the chorus.

Yo. The end of this song just raises the spirits of eveyone who hears it. This is how you should get dressed. Kanye can talk to me as much as he wants on track though.

Okay. Just sing along now. Roll the windows down on the car and belt it. Throw all your cares away.

Hey Mama

Kanye cant’ sing, but that’s PERFECT for this song. The childishness of singing this for his mom is too much. I’ll probably tear up half way through this. This is black music for real. Not everyone has great moms, but some people do, and it’s great when you get songs like this. Black women got it rough, and don’t get nearly the respect they deserve through the whole of American Culture. That thing about his mom supporting him even though he went the opposite of the way she wanted for him hits close to home. The sort of longing and hope of this song mixed with the sort of regret of not pleasing her sooner mixes perfect with the realization of all of his hard work and how much of the credit for his success she deserves. It’s super touching and super heartfelt and just great. And fuck everyone who hates Kanye. It’s cool also, because as specific as this song is about Kanye and his mother, it’s totally designed to work as a reflective tool for the listener. It works.


I love these strings. This is just another feel good song. That’s part of why I love Late Registration so much. So much of the album just feels good. Just relaxing party stuff. Not wild Andrew W.K. parties, but the kind where you might actually be able to hear the person beside you while talking.  I love these short verse songs. Just like four five bars of verse and a small rotating chorus .


Uh oh! I like when Kayne just raps. Kanye rapping about how obnoxious Kanye is is high class Kanye. Kanye knows he has a big ego, and that he annoys you, and he doesn’t care. He interweaves his life with the fictional story of other people with fictional stories of himself with real stories of other people with random rap music rhymes and lyrics.






that’s not how knock knock jokes work Cam’Ron.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of Cam’Ron.

Consequence fucking kills it. Just how this story unfolds with rapping about a non event that ends up in the worst way is so great. Especially after whatever the fuck Cam’Ron did.

Then we get music. And is the song gonna go on for three minutes with no more rapping. It would be in keeping in line with the rest of the album,

but no. Surprise.

It’s Kanye West. Ahead of his time. Sometimes years out. Still with the talking about how hard it is to do what you want sometimes. Sometimes fame isn’t great. The struggle to get up off his cheap ass sofa is real.  Getting fired from taco bell for giving out free food is real. This is just sort of an onslaught of good rapping from Kanye here at the end.

He gone.


Diamonds From Sierra Leone

Yeah, we’re back. This is the version without Jay-Z. That means we get a WHOLE OTHER VERSE. Cool, no? I think so.

I love Kanye talking about how mad he was about the grammy. He did get robbed though. Like, for real, he got jobbed.  I love the idea of plaques for Kanye saying Kayne. I love how unrelenting he is about how good he is and how much people fucked up by sleeping on him.

We Can make It Better

This isn’t on the US version of the album.  This song is the truth though. I like songs about doing better. There is so much stuff in here just for black people though and it’s wonderful and dangerous.

I love the mini verses. A bunch of good rappers not overstaying their welcome. I like it. Talib rocks it. Q-Tip comes in and is cute and adorable. Common is common and it’s surprising how good he is in this short format. Rhymefest shows up and kick ass here too. Just good work all around.


Aww yeah hidden track.

There’s some awesome musical theory stuff happening in this song. His second verse on the track mixes up lyrics on purpose. Not says them wrong, but you could read them in a different chronological order. His voice is working at odds with the beats which are working in harmony with the bass line and come across to the sample of the whatnauts. This is all you can really ask for from a



bonus mode: Check out Late Orchestration. It’s so good. Live orchestra and Live DJ make so many tracks on this album so much better. His energy on this concert recording is just fucking phenomenal.


College Dropout is really good

Filed under: Music — Micah Griffin @ 08:46
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I mean, yeah, we knew that nine years ago, but I think it’s worth coming back to.

The way I decided to do this was to go song by song and only write as much about the song as I could fit into the time it takes to listen to it.

The skits are funny, I don’t really deal with them because I NEVER listen to the anymore. I listened to them this time around to see how they flow with the album, and they work surprisingly well without destroying the pace, which happens less often than I like with rap albums.

We Don’t Care

As the first thing you hear from Mr. Kanye West on his debut album “We Don’t Care” is kind of brilliant. It lets you know what this album is sort of all about. It’s a rare thing these days. It’s a rare thing in general. All the themes about being broke, the things you do to survive, the facts of living in a culture of drug dealing without being an actual part of the drug dealing, the shit that is the American school system, and how much he likes his mom. It’s all here. Along with the desire for a much much better life.

That’s important. It’s important to this album and it’s important to the rest of Kanye’s career. “We Don’t Care” sets the stage for the just absurd level of stunting that goes on in “My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy.”

With music, the first song on an album goes a long way. It’s hard to come back from a terrible first track, and a brilliant opening can cover up a lot of mess. People still out here thinking Thriller one of Michael’s best albums largely on the strength of “Wanna be startin’ somethin’.”

All Falls Down

Thing 1. Lauryn Hill is amazing. This isn’t her, but that’s where it’s taken from, and any excuse to wax poetic about her is great.

Anyway, still on the college sucks tip and the first verse doesn’t take a step out of place. He doesn’t overstay his welcome on the subject (which is something a lot of dude rappers could learn). It isn’t that dudes can’t rap about the struggles of black women at all, but since it ain’t your struggle it really isn’t your place to be around dictating and shit, and this verse kinda gets that well. Then the focus turns onto Kanye and from Kanye to the world kanye grew up in. It’s really touching and hits you in the heart. Syleena is cool people too, much respect to her.

I’ll Fly Away

I said I wasn’t doing skits, but whatever. It’s not a skit, it’s an old church songs, and one of my favorites. It’s also noteworthy for making sense with spaceship coming right up next.


My. Fucking. Life.

But really, like anyone who’s been black and worked retail. It’s more universal than that, but the specifics really hit home to being black and all the fucking garbage you have to put up with just to make minimum wage. Managers stay on that racist shit up and leave you with this need to commit acts of violence but it’s all bluster because you know how poorly that’s going to go. That’s been at the root of the American black community power dynamics and domestic violence and all that shit from the start. I like how succinct it is put here. And the part about how they stay throwing you out at black customers like you gonna sprinkle magic negro powder on them to get them to buy stuff from you is so spot on and so annyoing.

This was my introduction to GLC, and to this day I’ve only ever heard him on other people’s stuff. I like him that way.

Jesus Walks

This is fascinating work. There was that time when rappers and R&B folks woud randomly appear on gospel tracks, and some would include super overt religious shit in their albums and a lot of it felt ham fisted and didn’t work. This is what so many of them were actually aiming for.  This isn’t a song about religion. This is the kind of song skinny white people write and get praise and adoration for. This is that introspective look into Kanye’s relationship with jesus and the fact that it’s not preachy and not about how much he feels god working powers in his life all the time is a credit to him and this song.

Never Let Me Down

Hey it’s Jay-Z! He’s so doing that Jay-Z thing where he talks about how awesome Jay-Z is and how not awesome everyone else is and how he became awesome, and you know what? It still works. He’s a really really good rapper. The chorus kicks in and he just keeps rapping and it melds together so well. 

Then comes fucking Kanye West. I love Kanye talking about his mom all the time. I like how appreciative he is of where his people come from. Not black people as a whole, but his in specific.

Hey it’s J Ivy. This is my entire view of what slam poetry is. The fact that kanye can turn J Ivy into a rapper is woderous. He’s just doing what he does and kanye fit the entire song around it and it all works. That and J Ivy is just speaking entirely in fire while he’s here takes the whole experience up a notch.

Hey! it’s Jay-Z again! I love when songs just keep going. Hey, Jay-Z; still awesome. And his history, still awesome. I love Jay-Z.

Kanye would break gospel music in half. All these gospel rappers and producers trying to get the kids need to just stop and go home. Bow at Kanye’s alter then end your careers.

Get ‘Em High

I’m not really into Talib Kwali. I know, as a fan of rap music, that I’m supposed to be into Talib, but he’s just never been my thing. In particular I don’t like this verse. I hate the reference to the birth control patch in such a sex shaming way. Like, this whole song is about men trying to go get sex and he’s shaming this woman for using birth control. It’s a big turnoff and puts a damper on the whole song for me.

Shoutout to Black Planet though. Does that website still exist?  I’m not sure it does.

New Workout Plan

The intro to this is funny, and that’s a problem, because it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot of social stuff going on and the intro sits right on the line. The entire song sits right on the line. It’s totally an issue of it’s making fun of something that’s infinitely make funable, he just goes about it from a direction that I wouldn’t.

One thing that’s undeniable is that the background beat to this forces dancing. The drums and violins work in perfect unison to create a danceable beat, which is cool, because that’s how workouts work best.

My name is elle may, I’m from mobile alabama and since listening  Kanye’s workout tape I’ve been able to date outside the family, I been able to date outside the family, I got me a double wide, and I rode a plane.” I’m sure that white rednecks are offended, but since I grew up around them I can’t possibly be concerned with their feelings.

The dance track that’s just randomly added on to the end of this great. I’ll never forget that time I went to the club and they played an extended cut of this that lasted for at least ten minutes and it was, indeed, one of the best workouts of my life.

Slow Jamz.

Seriosuly, I know it’s getting tired, but Kanye is really good at productions. As far as rap songs go about romantic encounters, this one is pretty right. The idea of people (specifically kanye) knocking boots to minnie ripperton makes me giggle quite a bit. The way Jamie Foxx says Al Green is good times.

Twista is wonderful in cameo’s. Outside of “I ain’t that nigga” I don’t really fuck with Twista. He kills cameos though. It’s just the nature of how he raps. The speed with which he can string together lines is beyond admirable. I’m endlessly impressed with his ability to fit into this song so well. I defintiely can get with the entire point of this song though. I’ve been to too many awful parties where people never slow shit down, and it gets tired after a while. (Yes, this was in my past life before I turned 23 and became the oldest person alive). It also works as the pefect down note after New Workout Plan. The bridgework here is phoenominal. I generally prefore subtle bridges, but this works.

Breathe In Breathe Out

But now I’m rapping about money hoes and benz again. Yup. But even this is set apart from all the 4092380 other songs released in 2004 about the same subject matter.

Hey! You guys remember when Ludacris went hard and was respectable and shit? I miss those days, even if they weren’t real. Whatever. Kanye’s Ego just doesn’t ever stop. The innuendo in this song does that awesome thing where it makes itself beyond obvious without

I got weed drink and a handy cam. That’s the kind of night you hope never leaks online, or people don’t stop talking about it. Ask Kanye’s current girlfriend, who no matter what she does can’t get away from the fact that people watched her have sex with ray-j on a shit camera.

School Spirit

My Dad’s an alpha, both my moms are Delta, a lot of my cousins are Qs. I didn’t do the frat thing. I am never letting someone hit me so we can be friends. No thanks. I  LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. I love all of kanye’s songs about how fucking stupid college is. As someone who’s been in college for eight years now going at one class at a time, I can’t get enough of it. He doesn’t dwell on it, but the line about the head of the class working at cheesecake says all that needs to be said. College has so much going on, and so little of it has anything to do with preparing kids for futures or even learning stuff. It’s a scam, but you have to do it in order to get some menial job that you could have done without the four year degree.

Two Words

A  couple of tracks on this album are definite precursors to what happens on Late Registration.

I love Mos Def. I feel like he handles the conceit of this song better than anyone else on the album. His cadence fits the two words thing so well.

Kanye kills it here too. I love the remembrance of source. I don’t think 5 mics means shit any more. I can’t remember the last time an album got 5 mics and anyone actually gave a shit. I basically know now we get racially profiled. Yup. The difficulty of the hustle is greatly increased when everyone already thinks you’re a criminal.

I miss freeways beard. Don’t say retarded though. There really isn’t a need for that. Be smarter.

back to the violin thing. It’s magic. This is really good, but it’s just setting the table for some nasty shit to be made out of a similar style on Late Registration.

Through the Wire

Yo. Kanye got his face broke. Listen to the version of this song that he records with his mouth wired shut. Fuck dude, that’s just amazing.

Chaka Kahn is amazing. Kanye’s decision to up the pitch works much better in real life than it does on paper. Because Chaka’s voice is just about perfect. That said, kanye is a genius.

My favorite part about this song, though is kanye talking through it. It’s a beautiful insight into

Family Business

This song makes me cry. I’m a big softy. This is for the family that can’t be with us. I miss this kanye. Like, I’m glad he’s where he is. I really am. I just wish this Kanye  was able to show up again, but he’s totally dead. At least we have this on record. It just brings up all these memories of my summer vacations with my families. (I got big family and it’s expanded and shit). The sort of gospel music feel of this song isn’t lost on me at all.

Let’s get stevie out of jail.

Last Call

Fuck you Kanye first and foremost for making me do this.

Fuck you for being this good and warranting all this time I’ve spent listening and contemplating your albums.

This song is fifty seven minutes long. I love every minute of it, and I love that it gives me time to examine this album as a whole. The oral history of Kanye’s rap career is great. I just love the way he has dudes come in and say the lines of the story that they would’ve said laid over him talking. I mean. It’s just fun story  telling. I can listen to stories this way. I wish there was more of it.

It’s been said, I’m not original in anyway. This is maybe the best Debut album of all time. I can’t think of a better one. Not just in rap  music, but in general.