It goes without saying that Kanye West has been one of the more controversial rap artist of our time, particularly since his whole tirade about how George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people. It’s also a well known fact that he has a huge ego and he equates himself with Jesus and/or God in many ways. Like he’s the savior of music and we should be taking his lyrics as gospel. Whether you are a fan of him as a person or not, however, it’s undeniable that Kanye West is one of the better lyricists out there right now, especially compared to other mainstream rappers that encourage you to get low, throw some Ds on that…, and roll around in your 6-4.

When Kanye first hit the scene a few years ago with “Through the Wire”, I thought he was mediocre at best. I thought that he was going to just flutter away like so many hip hop artists before him. And then he hit me with great tracks like “All Falls Down”, “Slow Jamz”, and “Gold Digger.” The beats and words in his lyrics are incredible. I just couldn’t get enough, even if I thought Mr. West was a bit of turd… so to speak.

College Dropout was released in 2004. Kanye West followed this up with Late Registration in 2005. And later this year, he’s going to complete the trilogy with Graduation. I’ve been looking forward to this new album for some time now, pretty much since I went to his concert in late 2005. Some artists start out with fantastic debut albums that quickly grab your attention, only to lose that inspiration and spark with later records. As such, despite my enthusiasm, I’ve been approaching Graduation with a slight bit of hesitation. That was until I heard his first single: Can’t Tell Me Nothing.

I like the somewhat sing-songy melody playing in the background. I like the rhymes that he spits out during the verses. Too bad the hook bites. You can help but cringe when he says “Nuthin”. It hurts. And then it gets better when he gets back into a verse. Interestingly, the opening sequence for the “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” music video is eerily similar to Madonna.

Can’t Tell Me Nothing (official music video)

Kanye West is a great lyricist and this first single from Graduation clearly demonstrates his ability to link together those rhymes in an absolutely brilliant fashion. There’s some serious stuff here, but at the same time, he has no problem mocking himself, or rather, making a parody himself. Here’s a short excerpt from the lyrics:

I feel the pressure. Under more scrutiny.
And what I do? Act more stupidly.
Bought more jewelery, more Louis V,
My momma couldn’t get through to me.
The drama, people suing me,
I’m on TV, talking like it’s you and me.
I’m just saying how I feel man,
I ain’t one of the Cosby’s. I ain’t go to Hill, man.
I guess the money should’ve changed him,
I guess I should’ve forgot where I came from.

The second single is Stronger, which takes a sample from “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk, a song originally released in the 1990s. Some say that this single butchers the original, but I say that it actually gives it a nice, unique spin. A snippet from this new track was leaked through a Kanye West mixtape earlier this month. Kanye himself said that because of these “drops”, they’ve been bumping UP release date of Graduation. At present, the tentative release date is August 21, 2007.

Stronger feat. Daft Punk (sound only)

Other artists that will be featured in Kanye West’s upcoming Graduation include Chris Martin of Coldplay, Common, John Mayer, T-Pain, Twista, and Lupe Fiasco. He even samples a track from the legendary but eerily creepy Michael Jackson.

I don’t care what people say about Kanye and his anti-Bush ways. I don’t care that he sounds like an absolutely ignorant idiot when he gets interviewed. The only thing that I care about is the fact that Kanye West creates some fantastic songs that keep my head bobbing. Keep up the good work.

BONUS: Kanye West did a remix of “Throw Some Ds” by Rich Boy. The parody is quite amusing, but it’s also misogynistic and NSFW. You’ve been warned. Check out the video on YouTube.