Kanye West - Late Registration
Review by Jack Foley
KANYE West is the man when it comes to hip-hop. Shrewd, stylish and one of the genre’s most potent forces, he’s prepared to mix things up a little so that there is no such thing as a signature sound.
Unlike 50 Cent – the other main commercial hip-hop performer of the moment – his music doesn’t conform to stereotype or any one particular style being based around samples, intelligent collaborations, stand-alone melodies and anything else West cares to try out.
The College Dropout introduced the world to West on a grand scale and was rightly showered with praise, sales and accolades.
His sophomore effort, Late Registration, is the sign of an artist brimming with confidence, yet not afraid to diversify.
The biggest tracks have inevitably been turned into singles – from his glorious Jamie Foxx collaboration, Gold Digger, to the soul-heavy Heard ‘Em Say, which offsets the silky smooth falsetto style of Adam (Maroon 5) Levine’s vocals over West’s distinct rapping style and a delightfully understated piano riff.
There are two versions of the lead single Diamonds From Sierra Leone both of which feature the glorious Shirley Bassey sample – although the first gets remixed slightly to include some hot Jay-Z vocals.
Yet evidence of West’s ability to keep things evolving is the album’s constantly changing styles. It revels in its ability to mix things up and keep things fresh.
Early on, there’s a genuinely funky performer in Touch The Sky, featuring a delicious sample of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up.
While Drive Slow teases with a sample from a Hank Crawford recording that adds an extra touch of class to proceedings.
The rapidly-emerging Common guests on My Way Home, another effortlessly soulful funkster that provides some top-notch vocal layering.
There is the odd mis-step or moment when West appears to have been lazy. Crack Music, for instance, is very urban and a little too generic for its own good, while his collaboration with Brandy, Bring Me Down, is too mainstream for its own good – a song of two halves which works well when relying on Kanye, but less so when dropping in the pop-style Brandy vocals (which sound too much like Mariah Carey).
Normal service is resumed on tracks like Addiction, with its addictive beats and simple piano loops, and Hey Mama, another soulful classic that includes vocals from John Legend and another well-judged sample from the Donal Leace recording, Today Won’t Come Again.
Late Registration is a glorious return from one of hip-hop’s premier performers that really does rate as one of the year’s outstanding releases. It’s not too late to sign up.
1. Wake Up Mr. West
2. Heard ‘Em Say
3. Touch The Sky
4. Gold Digger
5. Skit #1 (
6. Drive Slow
7. My Way Home
8. Crack Music
10. Bring Me Down
12. Skit #2
13. Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)
14. We Major
15. Skit #3
16. Hey Mama
18. Skit #4
20. Diamonds From Sierra Leone
21. We Can Make It Better