Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The songs in my head

I've had Kanye West's latest album, Late Registration, spinning in my car for the last couple of days. I picked it up when it came out, thought it was great, and then stopped listening to it for a while. For some reason I had the urge to dig it out again and it has been running nearly non-stop.

I don't particularly care for hip-hop and it's even rarer that I buy a hip-hop album (the only other one's I own being Fear of a Black Planet, 3 Feet High and Rising, Quality Control, and that first (only?) Blackalicious album which is a bit over-hyped...and at some point I will be picking up Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde because that shit should be mandatory) but godammit this album is good. The stand-out track "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" has been running through my head constantly for almost a week now.

I love the fact that there are two versions of that track on the album. The first version, sequentially, is the "remix" featuring a guest spot by Jay-Z. It's a pretty powerful observation of the quest for money and jewelry on the streets of America and the real impact of those base desires on the lives of the people subjugated by the diamond industry. Powerful stuff.

The other version is a witty self-absorbed ego strut hollaring about street cred, business success, and whatever other bling-bling nonsense could be crammed into the song. Same title, same beats, same hook, and an entirely different tone. I think it's pretty clever (and bold) to intentionally place such a blatant and almost hypocritical dichotomy on one's own album.

I'm impressed Mr. West.


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