REVIEW: Kanye West – Late Registration

Late Registration

Artist: Kanye West

Album: Late Registration

Label: Rocafella

Score: 3.5 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

I can’t stand Kanye West. He’s got a big head. Literally. Every time I see him on television his head has grown another 5 inches in circumference – rumor has it that after his Bush/Katrina comments, he actually had a spot behind his left ear populated by several thousand evacuees for 6 weeks. And if you hadn’t noticed by now, the man’s ego has actually grown at a faster pace than his head… the hype around this album was incredible with only Curtis and his bovine experiments outdoing Kanyeezy in the ‘on-MTV-every-43-seconds’ stakes.

And you know what? While many will hear me call this album hugely disappointing and defensively state that my opinion is borne simply out of dislike for West, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. I actually like many of his past efforts – at several times in the past few years, NO other producer could touch what Kanye was doing on the boards, and its testament to his skills that so many other producers jumped on his ‘sped-up soul sampling’ steez. “The College Dropout”, despite being incorrectly labelled as some kind of classic by many who should know better, was nevertheless one of the most enjoyable albums of 2004.

The problem for Kanye, as with many other more and less talented individuals before him, is that following the warm reception for his debut album, he’s actually started to believe his own hype, resulting in endless tantrums in endless interviews, toys out of prams at the Grammies, a hilarious (for us) ‘Punk’d’ episode, and ultimately “Late Registration” being filled full of below average work both on the boards and on the mic (which no doubt has been ‘yes-men’-ed to death so that to him, everyone will think its as dope as he does.) The inclusion of some more pointless college skits, featuring idiotic fraternity chants and the return of the Bernie Mac impersonator also grate more and more as the album plays.

Things kick off with the heavy drum track of second single ‘Heard Em Say’ which is quickly spoiled by an irritating Natalie Cole piano loop, and some horrible Timberlake-lite ‘Timberlite’ crooning from that Adam Levin Maroon 5 fella. Stick to your own genre, homeslice – methinks you need another single since your little band largely fell the fuck off after ‘This Love’. Kanye greets listeners to the first track of his sophomore effort with some mindless grunts before lazily bullshitting his way through three and half minutes of turgidness. ‘Touch The Sky’ meanwhile goes to incredible lengths to prove the ‘phoning it in’ theory. Looping Curtis Mayfield’s most familiar bars is a move a world away from the ‘most talented producer in Hiphop’ label that Kanye would like many to tag him with.

‘My Way Home’ sounds like something scraped off the floor from the “Be” sessions, with a lukewarm beat and repetitive Scott-Heron sample doing little to lift the track as Common outshines Kanye with little effort and STILL manages to deliver little more than a tired 16.

‘Gold Digger’ meanwhile has been played to death by everyone and their mother. A shame really, because it actually is a decent track. Unfortunately I fear that I, like many have been conditioned to reach for ‘skip’, once Jamie Foxx drops the intro. Despite the recycled ‘Stand Up’ drums, this is one that will be worth returning to once commercial radio removes its fangs.

The middle section of the album is paticularly uninspiring, beginning with ‘Crack Music’ where Kanye acts tough over limp drums because Game is in the studio to deliver a hook (and reportedly a verse which 50 nixed), and ending with ‘We Major’ where people have worked themselves into a masturbatory frenzy because of Nas mumbling over a Kanye cast-off. In between, ‘Roses’ tries to discuss the importance of the family unit, but is buried under a flood of Patti LaBelle-esque wailing; ‘Bring Me Down’ is nothing more than Brandy’s latest demo; ‘Addiction’ has Kanye ticking off the perils of the Hiphop industry in songform – unfortunately pondering why things that make you feel good are so bad for you is handled every week, and with less clumsiness and clunkiness by Jenny Craig; and ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’ meanwhile is one of those tracks that you’ll either love or hate. While people will kowtow to Kanye’s genius to sampling Shirley Bassey, I’m sure I’m not the only one who just can’t stand the bloody song. While Jay-Z’s stellar verse on the remix easily makes it a better listening option than the original, that doesn’t actually say much – the actual track is just irritating as fuck.

On the positive side, ‘Drive Slow’ rocks a Hank Crawford sample to spectacular effect, invoking Pete Rock on the horns, as Kanye drops a simple story of girl-chasing in the whip. Sometimes simple IS the best bet.

“Al B Sure nigga with the hair all wavy
Hit lakeshore girls go all crazy
Hit the freeway go at least bout 80
Boned so much that summer even had him a baby
See back back then then if you had a car
You were the Chi town version of Baby
And I was just a virgin, a baby
One of the reasons I looked up to him crazy
I used to love to play my demo tape when the system yanked
Felt like I was almost signed when the shit got cracked
We’ll take a Saturday and just circle the mall
They had the Lincoln’s and Aurora’s we was hurting them all
With the girls there’s a lot of flirting involved
But dog fuck all that flirting I’m trying to get in some draws”

Paul Wall on verse 2 sounds out of place – this is not the album for him, and I feel that his inclusion and the needless chopping and screwing at the end of the track is little more than some lip service to an area that many Northern artists have ignored, and nothing more than a blatant attempt to push a few more units.

Elsewhere, ‘Hey Mama’ despite its sappy title and subject matter, is actually an excellent track, not only due to it being one of the rare examples through the whole album of Kanye actually sounding believable on the mic, but also because the production instantly puts the listener in “College Dropout” mode again. In fact this track, and the subsequent two tracks, ‘Celebration’ and ‘Gone’ would both be comfortably at home next to ‘Slow Jamz’, ‘Never Let Me Down’ and co. ‘Gone’ in particular stands out, with its bouncy Otis sample, and Kanye going back and forth with Camron and Consequence.

Kanye West is a walking contradiction, straight from the KRS mould. His constantly shifting attitudes and opinions on many subjects, can be thought provoking to some, alarming to others, and plain irritating to many. With this in mind, its a fair statement to note that “Late Registration” is a reflection of West’s life as an artist, a producer, and an entertainer – the album itself contains several contradicting arguments and theories, and a selection of beats as varied as Kanye’s views on homosexuals at the Grammys. Unfortunately the biggest contradiction is the fact that Kanye West and many major media outlets thinks this is a good album… and I just think its shite. Harsh? Maybe. But this is a huge letdown from his debut, moreso due to the fact that all the promises he made about his improvements to production technique, to his emceeing, have simply not been kept. I guarantee that if you buy this, or already have, that you won’t listen to this more than half a dozen times.

16 Replies to “REVIEW: Kanye West – Late Registration”

  1. I don’t get this review, you shit on like pretty much every song and you still give it a 3.5, it doesn’t make much sense.

  2. I make it 4 decent songs and a great verse from Jigga, so although its not an essential buy, these tracks save it from getting a fat zero. However, if you feel that this ‘album of the year’ should be getting an 8.5 or a 9 then feel free to go to one of the other sites on the web who freely fellate Kanye on the daily. I think its already been proven that many of the people who wanked over this when it first dropped, are now in agreement with me that there’s little to no replay value in this album (unlike say, “Be” or “Crunk Juice”)…

    Don’t worry though – as usual, we’ll keep you right over here (no homo)…

    *lights touchpaper, stands back*

  3. Naw man, this album ain’t even in my top 20 of the year, it’s tight but I ain’t too big on Kanye anymore. It pisses me off the mags be givin’ AZ’s album 3 1/2 and in the same issue givin’ Kanye 4 1/2, my ass, AZ’s shit is better.

    But I’m sayin’, 4 decent songs, out of how many and one good Jay-Z verse merits a 3.5? You’re sayin’ 1/4 of the album is good, which should get like a 2/5 or less.

  4. Hey.. arguing over me not giving Kanye less marks will always get you over with me (no homo)… lets discuss how much I should give each album BEFORE I review it from now on.

    We can also have a review section of the current review scores! FANTASTIC!

    Lets discuss this one first – someone needs to have a talk with this lunatic…

  5. Probably the worst review I’ve ever read totally biased and down right just hating. This is just a dude with nothing better to do than play the “i’m gonna be different” card and bash something that everybody seems to like. This is probably my first and last time visiting this site I didn’t know the reviews were going to be this bad, but I just had to check it out for myself.

    Well like Kanye said…”Everybody feel a way about K…but atleast they feel something”

    Keep the hating up maybe you’ll end getting a gig hating on the radio all day.

  6. That’s right, I’m just hating – that’s why I picked out Gold Digger, Drive Slow, Hey Mama, Celebration and Gone as great track. But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good rant, eh?

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

  7. like what the fuck man…u gotta be kidding me u gave this album 3.5 ur an idiot…this album is dope.. no doubt about that

    fuck this site!

  8. “Top 5 emcees, you aint gotta remind me,
    Top 5 emcees you gotta rewind me
    I’m high up on the line you could get behind me
    But my head’s so big you can’t sit behind me”

    -from “Barry Bonds” off “Graduation”

    Wow… he actually admitted he had a bighead…

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