Kanye West finally dropped the full length in early '04 – and it's one of the best hip hop albums of that year. Kanye is probably the hottest beats producer of the year, too, having dug through the greatest soul hooks of the past few decades for his samples, and piled on the chunkiest, catchiest, thickest beats anywhere. And if he doesn't have the greatest vocal delivery in hop hop (if he did, he'd be Superman considering his production pedigree), he makes up for it with some masterful lines, like "I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli/
is it cool to rap about gold if I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali?" from "Breath In Breath Out". Hilariously, Kanye also found just about the sharpest theme for a record that we've scene in a while – the tangential connection between gang bangers and frat boys! He ain't granola, he ain't bling bling, he's just a guy from Chicago with a sometimes astoundingly strong production aesthetic, very smart rhymes and a lot of people who owe him great guest spots, and deliver. Were you looking for more than that? It's a triumph, one that Chicago couldn't be more proud of! "We Don't Care", "Graduation Day", "All Falls Down" with Syleena Johnson
, "Spaceship" with GLC & Consequence, "Never Let Me Down" with Jay-Z, "Get 'Em High" with Talib Kweli & Common,"New Work Out Plan", the great single "Slow Jamz" with Twista & Jamie Foxx and more.
(Later pressing with TML stamp. Includes the insert.)