Apple Music Celebrates 15 Years Of Kanye West’s ‘Graduation’ With Kosine

·2 min read

Apple Music has launched a new Essential Album radio episode celebrating 15 years of Kanye West’s classic album Graduation, which was released on September 11, 2007. The show is hosted by Kosine, who is one-half of celebrated production duo Da Internz.

“The album is all about challenging what it means to graduate from school versus the achieve. Because on this day, ‘we become legendary.’” Kosine examines how Kanye’s childhood was more suburban that spent on the streets yet West had a relentless hustle. “At a young age he displayed a love of music, a fondness that would become a fixation,” Kosine adds. “He would attend Chicago State University then drop out to focus full-time on his developing craft. Ain’t no Plan B.”

Kosine also dives into Kanye’s brilliant eye as a songwriter and producer. “He wrote and arranged and explored the intricacies of sampling and production. Yet Ye aspired most of all to be behind the mic himself. And so he kept hustling, first by making beats, but then by making records. Because guess what? Beats don’t go No.1 on the Hot 100 charts. Songs do.”

Kosine recruited Beastie Boys legend Mike D to examine Kanye’s power. He says, “I was a fan of his right away from his productions. He brought something to the production game I hadn’t heard before. The sped-up samples and aggressive beats. He had this backpack rap style with a pop sensibility.” Kosine then examines how Kanye’s relationship with Jay-Z shaped him as a producer and artist.

The Graduation artwork, a striking anime image by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami featuring a Kanye West-like bear being propelled skywards, serves as an apt analogy for the stratospheric creative ambitions of Kanye’s third album. Following the success of 2005’s Late Registration, he’d toured in support of U2 in an effort to broaden his fanbase. Watching the Irish megastars playing to packed arenas inspired Kanye to create an album that would invest rap with rock and pop dynamics, penning simplified lyrics that would better translate to large crowds.

Gone were the soul samples and grand orchestration that had dominated his first two albums. For Graduation, Kanye tapped into the stadium rock of the likes of The Killers, Radiohead, and Keane, while an eclectic selection of samples further broadened the album’s diverse sound. Lead single “Stronger” hinted at what would follow, its revolutionary hip-hop template combining a sample of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” welded to heavy metallic beats and hair-rock synths. The song proved a huge hit, especially in the UK, where it became Kanye’s first No.1 single.

Listen to Apple Music’s Essentials episode on Graduation.

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