...it wouldn't be a Kanye album without humour, wit and perverse ambition!
Maxine Headley 2005-08-31
Kanye West is an asshole. Yep, he proudly confessed that on his first album, College Dropout. You only have to look at the way he behaves at award shows, declares himself to be the best at, well, everything, and has disputes with magazines who don't give his albums top marks to confirm his insight. However that's the appeal, the arrogance, the cockiness and the confusion. Recently named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, it is obvious that not only does he believe in his greatness, but that others think the same way too.
Late Registration, West's sophomore effort, has some fabulously soulful production. Some might find his samples a little obvious, but let's be honest, who has ever brought the essence of Simon and Garfunkel, Curtis Mayfield and Shirley Bassey to one album? For all his arrogance, Kanye is keenly aware of the history of black popular music and certainly has no fear of the 'pop music' label.
He's not afraid of making social and political statements either. "Crack Music" deals with the harsh reality of drugs in the black community and proclaims, like only a musician can, 'that music is the only medicine'. On "Diamonds From Sierra Leone (remix)" West acknowledges that the origins of his jewellery may be far from harmless.
But it wouldn't be a Kanye album without humour, wit and perverse ambition! And there's that by the truckload. The list of guests (Common, The Game, Nas and Jay-Z) is impressive, and rather weirdly - on "Gold Digger" -includes Jamie Foxx singing along in his Ray Charles voice, to samples of the original Ray Charles.
This is a thought provoking album. Whether it becomes a classic or not, only time will tell, but as the man himself says, 'everybody feel a way about K, but at least y'all feel something'.