Kanye West – Late Registration Review

Link: Official Kanye West Site

The Inside Pulse:
It’s arguably the most anticipated release of 2005 and Kanye West, for the most part, doesn’t disappoint with Late Registration. In following up his breakthrough debut from last year (College Dropout), West doesn’t stray too far from the formula that won him worldwide mainstream acclaim and an irritatingly indulgent array of self-congratulatory accolades on behalf of…well, himself. Late Registration flows seamlessly from one track to the next, yet manages to segue into separate sonic styles, throughout. Kanye can bend your ear with a political soliloquy, then drop a socio-economic track through your speakers. He can poke fun at scandalous women, but without the usual “bitches n’ hoes” banality. In this era of crunk, and other essentially un-listenable junk, Kanye West is the industry’s most accessible superstar. He’s not breaking any new ground, but there’s nothing wrong with finding success by revisiting previously traveled territory.

“The best hip hop album of 2005”? That’s the very definition of damning with faint praise. Still, the FM marketing of Late Registration has been nothing short of a masterstroke. Diamonds of Sierra Leone (original and remix) is a lush and vibrant effort that is built upon the foundation of a Diamonds Are Forever sample. Gold Digger, the second single, is infectious fun that’s interwoven with some goodness from Ray Charles. Bring Me Down, featuring Brandy, almost seems to be Kanye’s attempt to satirize himself, at times, as the intentionally over-the-top arrogance is hilarious to hear. Speaking of which, it pays to be the current big name in the game, as every guest appearance (from Nas to Jigga) sees the artist bringing his/her A-game with none of the usual “paint-by-numbers” approaches that go with the standard guest spot-cum-appearance fee.

While Late Registration is structured better than Dropout and, quite frankly, a better album, there’s really nothing all that groundbreaking here. To listen to his legion of lemmings, you’d think that Kanye was two steps shy of Christ. The soulful sampling is eclectic and, at times, even elegant, but Kanye is still a mediocre lyricist. Just because he spits about things that you can relate to, doesn’t mean he spits well. He’s outshined, time and again, by his guest stars, which only serves to further highlight his shortcomings on the mic. And, while we might be picking nits here, can someone have Kanye kill off his insipid skits? It’s a theme, Kanye, we get it.

Take your momma’s old soul albums from the 70s and mix ’em with a little of today’s Hip Hop themes.

Reason to buy:
Because everyone else is buying it and you don’t want to be the only one on your block without a copy. Seriously, if you need an escape from what might be the worst mainstream year in Hip Hop history, cop this album. It’s not an all-time classic, but it’ll certainly qualify as such, by it’s comparison to the current crap on the airwaves, alone.