Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’ 10 years later

Tom Jenkins, Managing Editor

In the wake of an amazing year for hip-hop, the echoes of Kanye West’s 2007 masterpiece “Graduation” still has influence on what you’re hearing today. When looking back at 2017 so far, Kendrick Lamar dropped possibly one of the best albums of the last 20 years in “DAMN.” The highly anticipated “More Life” from Drake was no disappointment, and we saw the rise of Migos in their smash hit “Culture.”

None of these albums would have been the same or had the commercial success without Kanye West, kicking in the doors for these artists. Kanye West may be one of the most polarizing stars in our generation but you cannot deny that he is the closest personality that we have to a Rock Star.

He is constantly in the tabloids and you cannot look at social media without reading about his life. The reason that is, is because of “Graduation,” this album was the 2000’s “Nevermind,” along with it being the most influential album to modern pop music at the time.

“Graduation,” turned 10 on September, 11th and is seen as the first real arena rap album. In 2005 Kanye saw what bands like U2 and Coldplay had been able to do with their music and wanted to fill arenas with his sound.

So, West, like he has always done, pushed the envelope with sampling artists and featuring artists that no one else would have thought to use. From featured artists like Coldplay’s Chris Martin to sampling dance legends Daft Punk.

When looking at the sound that Kanye created it was anthemic rap. They were songs that everyone could sing to along with the intimate lyrics of West. Kanye was raps first sad kid, in “Everything I Am,” you hear the insecurities that West is now known all too well for.

For the Indie fans, there was a cool rapper that sang about his feeling and for the classic hip-hop fans you had still had amazing beats and songs like “Good Life” that celebrated the success he had already gained.

The album reached number one on the Billboard Top 200, along with the number one spot for R&B and Rap. Before this album there were no hip-hop or rap artists touring with a center stage that lit up, there weren’t these big extravagant tours supporting an album. Now that has become an outdated idea, half of hip-hop is theatrics now.

With artists like J-Cole coming out in an orange jump suit and shackles to Kendrick’s massive stage band presence. Even West’s most recent tour for his latest album “The Life of Pablo,” challenged his own precedence, although it was an absolute train-wreck where West would end the tour early because of personal issues.

With songs like “Stronger,” “Homecoming,” and “Flashing Lights” this album is stacked with hits. “Graduation,” would pave the way for artists like Kid Cudi, Childish Gambino and now most famously West’s protégé Chance the Rapper.

The once Jay-Z producer and contributor has come a long way since his 2007’s masterpiece and continues to challenge the sound of music, not just hip-hop.

Tom Jenkins can be contacted at [email protected].