Kanye West is one of the biggest artists of our time. Changing the dynamic of Hip-Hop forever with his emphasis on creating an amazing musical experience. College Dropout is a classic album and one of the best of the last decade, Graduate got rid of the skits and took his music to “Stadium Status”, 808s was a great album whether you were heartbroken or not and MBDTF is on par with the rest of Kanye’s works. I think valid arguments can be made for all the albums being Kanye’s best. All his works have had huge cultural significance, but I will say that his sophomore effort, Late Registration is the best. I’m not going to use this to persuade you, as we are all entitled to our opinions, but I want to show you why I love it so much.
At the beginning of Kanye’s career he was burdened by the “Producer/Rapper” stigma. People didn’t take his lyrics seriously even after hearing College Dropout. He had a few moments of lyrical prowess, but overall he was still rough around the edges. More recently with Dark Fantasy & Watch The Throne he stopped trying to prove himself lyrically. At this point in his career he doesn’t have to, but between 2004 and 2005 he still wasn’t the KANYE WEST we know now and he still was determined to prove himself as a rapper. I think Kanye was at his best in terms of rapping on Late Registration. He was consistent throughout the album and had a few moments that surprised everyone. On the last verse of “Gone” Kanye goes crazy. On “We Major” with Nas & Really Doe he holds his own against one of the best rappers ever. And on “Diamonds” he delivers arguably his best performance. I don’t think people understand what Kanye West did on this song & on this beat. His flow is so perfect throughout the entire song. The last verse in particular is just mind blowing especially when the beat switches up:
“The preacher said we need leaders
Right then my body got still like a paraplegic
You know who you can call you gotta best believe it
The Roc stand tall and you would never believe it
Take your diamonds and throw ‘em up like you bulimic
Yea the beat cold but the flow is anemic“
In the same verse he say: “This track the Indians dance to bring our reign back“. I hope you all see the double entendre here.
One thing Kanye has always been good at is bringing in a great assemble cast to be featured on his albums. On Late Registration we get great performances from all of them. Jamie Foxx does his best Ray Charles impersonation, Lupe drops a scene stealing verse, Paul Wall lays down a excellent verse and on “My Way Home” a song just featuring Common, he ends up making one of the best songs on the entire CD. Jay-Z gets on the “Diamonds (Remix)” and destroys it. Kanye even agrees he got bested on “Big Brother”.
The song “Bringing Me Down” featuring Brandy is one of Kanye West’s best songs ever. He gives us some of his best rhymes over a beautiful beat provided by a string orchestra, all while Brandy harmonizes and supplies a great end to the song. Not that I have any, but this line stuck out to me: “There will always be haters, that’s the way it is, hater n****s marry hater b*****s & have hater kids“. He even states that Tupac was the only rapper that deserved beats from him.
On “Crack Music”, the most politically charged track on the album, he accuses Reagan of destroying the Black Panthers. He raps about how crack was spread across black neighborhoods in the 80s that led to the self destruction of the Black Power movement. He compares Rap to drugs, which isn’t a new concept, but he puts a very unique spin on it. He tells us to question George Bush as to where Saddam got Anthrax from. The Game is featured, but he merely provides the hook which isn’t much at all. The song ends with a powerful spoken word from Malik Yusef.
What else can you look for in Kanye CD? Amazing beats. Clever lyrics, Great features, Cool concepts. “Hey Mama?” He gave us some of the best skits this side of Dipset and “Diamonds”, I can’t emphasize that enough. What more can you ask for? This was Kanye at his absolute best in every category. It was way ahead of anything else that was being done in 2005.