10 Years ago today [August 30,2005], what I feel is the best Kanye West album ever released. That album was Late Registration. While many may have been waiting for the “Sophomore Jinx” from the “producer rapper” because of the uncanny success of the overplayed and oversaturated “Gold Digger”, I myself was waiting to say “No album is better than this right now and nothing hotter than this is going to drop before New Years Eve.”
In August 2005, I was in Atlanta, working as an Assistant Store Manager for Champs in Lennox Mall. I’ll never forget specifically August for a few reasons.
1. Hurricane Katrina had hit and Atlanta flooded like crazy with what seemed to feel like 2-3 straight days of rain.
2. Kanye West had a hit record with Gold Digger and made waves with the now iconic comment “George Bush doesn’t care about Black People.”
3. An older white woman, had to be in her 50’s or 60’s came into my store and Gold Digger came on the Champs video. She stopped me and said, “I really like this song! Who’s song is this?” I told her “That’s Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, Gold Digger”. Her face turns ugly and she says, I don’t like that guy! He’s wrong for speaking that way about our President” and she walks off.
It was at that moment that I knew, that Kanye West was quite possibly, the biggest rap star of 2005. Even if it wasn’t for rap. [Irony based on the world we live in today]
Now for my honest thoughts on the album. I think Late Registration is the true beginning of “Kanye West the Recording artist.” This album is why I don’t consider College Dropout a classic. Why? Because it’s College Dropout on steroids.
To solidify my analogy, Barry Bonds was always a great baseball player. His overall skill was recognized and he achieved accolades. Then, the steroid era kicked in. Sammy and Mark made headlines seemingly every game and hard-working, great playing, Barry was seemingly forgettable. Then all of a sudden, Barry makes it a point to compete with the sluggers. The end result is Barry Bonds beating Hank Aaron’s home run record and unquestionably going out as one of the G.O.A.T’s, while Sammy’s an albino and Mark is more known for one great season and his grand jury testimony.
The production, the beats, the rhymes, the skits are ALL BETTER on Late Registration. How can it not be classic? Then tell me how can College Dropout be classic when Kanye literally drops a superior album the following year? This is the first time the masses hear Lupe Fiasco. This is Maroon 5’s front man, Adam Levine getting introduced to the sometimes very small musical minded hip-hop world. This is a collaborative production work with Jon Brion and Warryn Campbell ,to avoid heavy soul sampling and bringing new sounds and instrumentation into hip-hop. Kanye basically put together his own version of The Legendary Roots Crew for this album and the result was phenomenal.
Favorite Tracks on Late Registration
“Heard ‘Em Say” (featuring Adam Levine)
“Touch the Sky” (featuring Lupe Fiasco)
“Drive Slow” (featuring Paul Wall & GLC)
“Crack Music” (featuring The Game)
“Bring Me Down” (featuring Brandy)
“We Major” (featuring Nas & Really Doe)
Gone” (featuring Cam’ron & Consequence)
“Late” (hidden track)
“Late” is my favorite Kanye West song ever…and it’s the hidden track.
This album to me solidified Kanye West as the Best Rapper out. Jay retired and people were jumping on the Wayne bandwagon in record numbers, but there was no way anybody was making better music than Kanye West in 2005. I still to this day don’t see that as being debatable.
No matter how people want to feel personally, Kanye West musically, makes no mistakes. Now, I know at it’s core, that’s my opinion, but I feel I can prove that opinion as fact with any project. He’s ahead of the curve and see’s the next big artist coming before their breakout hit single. He’s usually one of the first of this generation to use certain sounds and have certain collaborations that the world eventually thirsts for. For that reason alone, Kanye West will always have my musical respect. Late Registration is the beginning of all that. Late Registration is a classic album. Thank You Mr. West for this great musical contribution to the culture.