Kanye should drop out after ‘Late Registration’

Ben Breier

Credit: Ben Breier


Kanye West

Late Registration

Roc-A-Fella Records, 2005

Stater rating (out of four): ★ ★ 1/2

Let’s face it folks — Kanye West’s Late Registration is the most heavily anticipated hip-hop album of the year. West talked the talk and walked the walk on his debut album, The College Dropout, but can he possibly match the socially conscious lyrics, high-quality production and overall impact that made The College Dropout a huge hit?

One of the biggest differences between Kanye’s albums is the number of guests who appear on Late Registration. Superstar contributors include Common, Bernie Mac, Jamie Foxx and Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

What? Adam Levine?

Believe it or not, it works perfectly. Levine’s vocals parallel the piano featured on one of the album’s first tracks, “Heard ’Em Say.” While Kanye lays down witty rhymes and puns (“They can’t cop cars / without seeing cop cars”), Levine backs West up, reinforcing his lyrics while interjecting the occasional vocal spasm. Levine is the John Stockton to Kanye West’s Karl Malone.

The album’s catchiest track, “Touch The Sky,” features a rowdy chorus of trumpets mixed with cymbal-heavy percussion. Kanye even manages to snag some lyrical inspiration from Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving On a Jet Plane.” (“I’m going on an aeroplane / And I don’t know when I’ll be back again.) If there’s a dance song to be found on this album, this is certainly the track that’ll get you grooving.

While Kanye’s first album featured massive variation in his beat-making efforts (ranging from the violin-laden “The New Workout Plan” to the gospel choir-driven “Jesus Walks” and the sugary-sweet “Family Business”), many of the beats found on this record are too dark and brooding to be memorable and fun. The further a listener progresses into the album, the harder it is to differentiate from one industrial hip-hop joint to the next.

In the end, Late Registration is a solid rap record, but if you’re looking for a worthy successor to The College Dropout, this certainly isn’t it. Late Registration is a disappointment — once Kanye checks his arrogance at the door and learns how to have fun again, maybe he can craft something as memorable as The College Dropout again.

Contact ALL correspondent Ben Breier at [email protected].