Kanye right on time for Graduation

Two years. Two albums. Six Grammys. Most musical artists would be out of material after such quick success, but hip-hop sensation Kanye West’s third album, Graduation, was released September 11th to much critical acclaim. Here are the top five reasons to believe West’s third is as fresh as his first two. 5. Guest List Guest performers are a given on any rap album, but few albums have contributions from as many stars from as many genres as Graduation does. Elton John, Steely Dan, Daft Punk, and Michael Jackson all make appearances, along with superstar rappers like Mos Def and Jay-Z. It’s hard to ruin the recipe with these kinds of ingredients. 4. The Story West’s previous album titles, The College Dropout and Late Registration carried far different implications than the title Graduation. A college dropout is held back in the “real world” by not having a degree. Someone who registered late for classes has to worry about fitting in with classmates who registered on time. But a graduate, they’ve got the world in the palm of their hands. Done with school and with a degree to boot…nothing’s holding West back now. 3. Battle with 50 Cent The September 11th release of Graduation happened to be the same day that fellow rapper 50 Cent released his own album, Curtis. 50 Cent initially claimed he would stop releasing solo albums if Graduation outsold Curtis, but has since reconsidered. The two appeared on BET’s 106 & Park Live in a “Clash of the Titans,” talking about their albums and performing live. West pulled out the biggest surprise of the show by bringing along his mentor, Jay-Z, to perform his song “Big Brother.” The success of his performance corresponded to his album sales. At this point, Graduation is outselling 50 Cent’s Curtis. 2. Singles Success Two pre-album singles releases from Graduation have been successful this year. The first, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, was released in May and climbed to 62nd on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was only a teaser for the release of “Stronger” in July. The song has a unique feel thanks to a prominent sampling from the French electronica group Daft Punk. “Stronger” climbed charts worldwide, as high as 2nd in the US and all the way to number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. 1. It’s Kanye Come on, you know Kanye’s cool. In his music video for “Stronger”, he brought Daft Punk to the mainstream, sported venetian blind style sunglasses, and based the whole video off an anime movie. We’re talking about a guy who, in an industry where “street cred” is just as important as musical talent, has put a teddy bear on the cover of everyone of his albums. Are you serious? Can this guy do anything that’s not cool? He could have gone pro, but he stayed in school to get his degree. If that’s not cool, what is?