Graduation – Kanye West (2007)

Graduation - Kanye West (2007)

Kanye West toured with U2 at one point. Inspired by U2’s ability to lead arena crowds in song, Kanye decided that he wanted to make hip-hop music that could inspire arena crowds to do the same. The result of this decision was Graduation, which takes a more electronic vibe than Kanye’s previous two efforts. Graduation is pretty unique due to Kanye’s ambitions. I don’t think an arena crowd has the ability to rap an entire song along with Kanye, but for some reason this album makes me feel like I could. The flow isn’t new, but his beats certainly are.

Choice Cut: I Wonder

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You’re Dead! – Flying Lotus (2014)

You’re Dead! - Flying Lotus (2014)

I’ve already covered how Flying Lotus is the grand nephew of jazz greats John and Alice Coltrane, so when I say that this album is a jazz album, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. You’re Dead! is primarily about death, which usually comes with connotations of darkness and heaviness. This album isn’t really dark or heavy though. Sure, this album can get a little slower at times, but I would never say it’s depressing like a lot of music about death is. This album is jazzy, full of life, and experimentation. Kind of an interesting paradox really.

Choice Cut: Dead Man’s Tetris

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Late Registration – Kanye West (2004)

Late Registration - Kanye West (2004)

Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout was fresh and exciting in the world of hip-hop. West’s follow up, Late Registration, proved to be even more fresh and exciting. The amount of growth that West made in a year and a half between the albums is amazing. Featuring deeper and more personal lyrics along with better production. The production on this album ranges from songs like Touch The Sky that is very danceable to Crack Music which has a more gangsta rap sound to it. Late Registration might not be West’s best, but it is like none of his others.

Choice Cut: Hey Mama
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BBNG2 – BADBADNOTGOOD (2012)

BBNG2 - BADBADNOTGOOD (2012)

Genres
Jazz

Choice Cut
Flashing Lights

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I found BADBADNOTGOOD when I started listening to hip-hop about a year ago.  I started with the Odd Future collective, when I heard about jazz covers of their songs, I had to see it to believe it.  BBNG2 is not all cover songs, and in fact their original work on this album is some of my favorite music of the past two years.  However, their cover of “Earl” and their mashup of “Bastard” and “Lemonade” is what drove them to fame. To me, their epic version of “Flashing Lights” is what puts this album up there with the jazz greats.

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