Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Kanye West: Graduation [Roc-A-Fella, 2007]
Rank this minor success with hooky background music like 50 Cent's The Massacre--no deeper than Coldplay when you pull out the measuring stick, but a lot smarter. Compared to 50's, the hooks are pretty pricey. Yeezy loves designer labels and procures for himself the finest fromage--Elton John to Steely Dan to Daft Punk softening us up for gay cult hero Labi Siffre, like that. He self-indulges throughout--not just by expanding at length on his skimpily rationalized fascination with his own fame, but with little stuff like his failure to convert "this"-"crib"-"shit"-"live"-"serious" into a rhyme or "at bay at a distance" into an idiom. Nevertheless, every single track offers up its momentary pleasures--choruses that make you say yeah on songs you've already found wanting, confessional details and emotional aperçus on an album that still reduces to quality product when they're over. A-