In my search for anything of interest about the album, I came across the full version of "Can't Tell Me Nothing," a track where West shares production with DJ Toomp. This alone made me curious enough to want to take a closer look.
To be fair, the track sounds much more like College Dropout than it does Late Registration, which, for the moment, silences my worries that this album was going to try and out-grand his last effort. But several things about this track bother me. I don't really need those Jeezy adlibs throughout, the threat of a Jeezy verse just around the corner is not the kind of four minute anxiety attack I really need. The production is...not really the finest either. You can most certainly here Toomp's influence all over the track. However, with all the "emotion" and "soul" that Brion and West respectively program overtop of the track really water it down. Additionally, it should be noted Toomp really only makes two kinds of tracks-angry or loud, sometimes both, always really fucking good. Oh, and this. I'm not really feeling this marriage of styles. The only reason it doesn't bother me more is that plenty of leaked tracks got flipped and changed up before Late Registration. My two largest gripes with the song I blame squarely on Mr. West. The hook is bad, rivaling that one from "Hey Mama" for worst 'Ye hook. Second, I'm tired of the modestly superstar, humbly corrupted, wonderfully flawed schtick that Kanye's been working since he started wrapping. It made a good point on "Breathe In, Breathe Out," but now he's effectively managed to make it a part of his emcee character to the point that he can utilize it and still say nothing on a track. Think Blackout! but for just this song.
What Kanye needs to do is a take a page out of another Mr. West who has an album coming out soon: Cornel West. Never Forget: A Journey In Revelations, is scheduled to be released June 19th. Now, I recognize this album will be far from perfect, and probably too preachy for me to really enjoy that much save for a few cuts (no disrespect to his writing though, West is a genius). However, Cornel has the right formula. Get some ill like minded MCs to come in and make an album you really believe in. I'm sure "Mr. President" featuring KRS-One and M-1 is going to pure fire. I'm certain Killer Mike is going to destroy his guest spot. The joint with Prince, which you can stream here (click "Dear, Mr. Man") is pretty nice. And I most certainly ain't gonna be mad at the line-up: Rhymefest, Kweli, Black Thought, Rah Digga and Tavis Smiley. I'm also extremely curious to see how the deja-vuish "Chronometrophobia" featuring Andre3000 sounds.
Ideally, these two albums could merge into one super "power to the people" album. Kanye handling the "black people are imperfect" part, Cornel handling the "white people are imperfect" part until everyone (somehow) feels good.
Just a thought.