The as-yet-unreleased “Late Registration” appeared in my mailbox two days ago (thanks, you!). But it’s out this Tuesday, so I’ll briefly encourage people-with-ears to give it a go.
First, the self-proclaimed Carlton of rap can lay down tracks. Even if you’re not into rap, you’ll move your elbows & knees to these beats. Clap in your car. Put your left foot in, etc. There’s a lot more going on here than just riffs about “money, ho’s, and rims again.” Before he was a rapper, he was a beat-maker and producer. He’s got a growing list of names under his belt now like Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx, and Ludacris. “Late Registration” spotlights his talent. You can see the lyrics taking shape around the music in his head.
West also takes on all kinds of political “isms” in his new album, but he doesn’t put himself a step-above anyone. If he seems to point a finger, he also notes the other four pointing back & owns them. In “Touch the Sky,” he reiterates:
I’m tryin to right my wrongs
But it’s funny, them same wrongs
helped me write this song …
A review of “Late Registration” in the Guardian acknowledges West’s status as one of the few mainstream rappers who takes on political issues. He even comes out against homophobia in a new show, “All Eyes on Kanye West,” on the heels of discussions that have recently taken place around rap artists like Elephant Man, Eminem, and Beenie Man.
Moreover, a noteworthy treat on this album is “Hey Mama,” which is West’s heartfelt tribute to his mother (though it’s not the only song in which he gives her props). He makes a sweet comparison at one point:
Things I gotta do just to prove to you
You was gettin through
Can the choir please gimme a verse
Turn one page and there’s my momma
Come on momma just dance with me
Let the whole world see your dancin feet
And with that, good people, I leave everything else to you. Happy Saturday~
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.