Kanye West, Graduation

Graduation completes Kanye West's academic trilogy, and if it's truly his "dissertation," as he says on opener "Good Morning," he's created another crowd-pleaser but neglected the deeper social and introspective observations that elevated 2005's Late Registration. But should an artist even be compared to a gold standard he/she created? If the answer is yes, Graduation receives a B-minus. "Golddigger" proved West can come up with catchier hooks than Graduation's "The Glory" and its sample, which sounds like young Michael Jackson played at chipmunk speed. The dragging, inane "Drunk and Hot Girls" ranks right down there with any other bitches-and-hos song (although, to his credit, West avoids blatantly misogynist terms). But Graduation has brilliant moments too, like "Stronger," perpetually danceable and inspiring in a Rocky-theme way. Of "Barry Bonds," West asserts "here's another hit," which it very well may be, with its club-friendly refrain of "we outta here baby." West even mentions our humble city in "Good Life": "the good life, it feel like Houston." How can any Houstonian not love that? Missing are touching lyrics like those of Registration's "Hey Mama" and the glimmer of global awareness shining through "Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)," but West's point of view still demands to be heard.

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