“Don’t act like I never told ya.”
Following the release of his sophomore album Late Registration, it was being questioned whether Kanye West can follow up what many consider to be a modern day classic album which another quality project.
With album sales taking a dip due to the popularity of downloading, pirating, and leaks the rapper decided to use the art of drama to gain get fans to run to the store and show their support.
50 Cent had announced his anticipated album Curtis was to be released September 11, 2007. In August of the year, Kanye sparked the big debate after moving his own much anticipated project to the same day.
The showdown officially began.
Almost immediately, fans of both artists began to take sides, anxious to listen and dissect both albums and crown their favorite artist the better one. Even bigger, it drove people to the stores to purchase the album they wanted. It also led to the iconic Rolling Stone cover with the two facing each other.
It proved to be the right move as Graduation sold over 437,000 copies its first day and 957,000 its first week beating 50 Cent’s Curtis, which went #2 on the Billboard 200 with 691,000 copies sold.
Kanye did so with a brand new sound, influenced by the ever-so-growing music coming from Europe.
Tracks such as “Stronger,” “I Wonder” and “Flashing Lights” bring to light the experimentation of his new sound which bring a more futuristic feel and inspired by rock, house, and indie music instead of the classic soul we had become used to hearing Yeezy perform to. His look also changed as he performed frequently during the time with light up jackets and those cool glasses everyone used to wear.
While experimenting with different sounds, Kanye also kept the essence of hip hop and the genre alive. Back in May of 2007, he released his first single titled “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” in which he raps about the problems with dealing with the fame he ultimately began receiving. “Everything I Am,” “The Glory,” “Barry Bonds” still carried much of that hip hop that fans loved as he experimented with a more eclectic sound.
“Let the story begin.”
As calmly as the intro track began with “Good Morning,” is as introspective the album concludes.
JAY-Z and Kanye West’s relationship has always been an interesting topic of conversation, especially after the split of Roc-A-Fella records. For the first time we get a look at their complicated relationship with the track “Big Brother.” He talks about their “sibling rivalry,” the competition between the two, and Kanye’s appreciation for what Hova did for his career and his life. It’s a song that we can look back to 10-years-later and see the foundation of their friendship, even when the two are not in the best of terms today.
To date the album has sold over 2.7 million copies. It won Grammy awards for Best Rap Solo Performance (“Stronger”), Best Rap Song (“Good Life”), and Best Rap Album.
Over it’s a very good album shadowed by the rave of his first two, Graduation may not be considered his best album, but it’s the project that brought the multi-talented artist to a brand level in popularity and reach around the world. His openness to try different sounds while staying true to the genre and himself quietly created timeless singles such as “Flashing Lights,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and “Good Life,” which still get a pop every time it’s heard in clubs and radio stations across the world.
The final album using its school theme, “Graduation” is exactly that -him graduating to new heights, with a new sound, and a new direction. While not the classic many feel Late Registration is or even College Dropout, it is arguably the most important of his career and help him become the artist he is today.
Cheers to the 10 year anniversary of Graduation.