On Tuesday, Kanye West released his insanely hyped new album Graduation, just in time for…the beginning of school. But while he may have dropped out before his real graduation, the “Louis Vuitton Don” always keeps his wardrobe back-to-school fresh, and he seems to have dreamt up some sort of fictional institution that he did graduate from – it’s sort of like a combination of the School of Hard Knocks and an actual college. Sound confusing? It is! Nevertheless, Kanye has some sage advice for graduates of all institutions – real or make-belief – on his follow-up to Late Registration. Let’s check out some highlights…
The real “commencement speech” of Graduation comes, ironically, at the beginning. The intro track, called Good Morning, is essentially Mr. West’s “dissertation” on post-college life. Take heed, my good nerds:
Look at the valedictorian scared of the future
While I hop in the Delorean
Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student
Some people graduate, but be still stupid
They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around
Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus
Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness
After all of that, you receive this…
I’m not sure if Kanye will be invited to speak in any Ivy League quadrangles next spring, but this is the soundtrack to my life right now, and I think every grad needs to listen closely. Here, he deftly deflates the egos of those who think they are getting ahead by seeking further education, most notably graduate school. Intellectualism breeds complacency, while Kanye’s a doer – in fact, he’s so far ahead of you, he’s coming back from the future just to tell you what an idiot you are. You see, school will just try to indoctrinate you and force bad habits: Peep this (terrible Jane Austen novel). Eat this (sub-standard dining hall food). And all of that just chips away at that street instinct lurking inside you – that hustler’s spirit that truly fuels success in the real world.
At least I think that’s what he’s talking about. Not sure if Kanye and I are on the same page of the textbook regarding all this, especially since I just copped my GRE workbook and he claims that “PhD” stands for “pretty huge dick.” (Which school has the best program for that?) But I can wholeheartedly agree that a lot of people graduate and are still stupid. I’d say I’m living proof.
Anyways, as Graduation progresses, the words of wisdom become a little less explicit, but there are still many valuable lessons to take on board. If “buying an album” is a bit too much for you to handle, download these three tracks into your post-grad playlist:
In this soul-bearing personal history, ‘Ye address the important subject of finding a mentor. For Kanye, this turned out to be Jay-Z. For us, maybe it’s an internship supervisor or uncle who is really knowledgeable about media. But don’t get hung up on that detail. The point is, your mentor may not transport you to the big time in the blink of an eye, but don’t let your pride get in the way of the things he or she can teach you in the long run.
On this loping, sing-songy jam, Kanye offers an important caveat: “We’ve been through too much bullshit just to fuck with these drunk and hot girls.” Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But I’m a drunk and hot girl.” Again, ‘Ye is not that literal. Just as a “big brother” can be Jay-Z, a “drunk and hot girl” is any temptation that could ruin all of the hard work you’ve put into graduation college and landing a job. “She” could be a colleague who you’ve been itching to fight or an errant zero that you sneak into your timecard. Remain professional, and don’t let quick thrills derail your progress.
It’s probably best not to chant, “Nuh uh, you can’t tell me NOTHIN’” at your boss, but let this epic track be an inspiration to you on your daily grind, reminding you that once you “get your money right,” no one will be able to tell you what to do. And if it seems impossible, just remember Kanye’s perspective: “Shit I already graduated / And I could live through anything if Magic made it.”
So that’s that, class dismissed. If you want to learn how to pronounce at least a dozen varieties of guns and “sell water for two bucks,” listen to 50 Cent’s Curtis instead.