10 lines I can’t stand on Kanye’s Graduation

I’m seriously conflicted about Graduation. I love it and I hate it. I haven’t stopped listening to it for the past week. No doubt, it’s Kanye’s leanest album yet (thank you, God, for no “skits”).

Yet, I can’t get over some of the flat-out horrible rhyming on this record. I’ve never thought of Kanye as an elite MC, but damn … he’s had some gems in his day (“Look back on my life like the ghost of Christmas past / unbreakable / what, you thought they called me Mr. Glass?”).

My boy Royce thinks I should let it go lest these feelings fester and, ultimately, ruin Graduation. So, I’m going to just get it all out here, a little blog therapy. Because, honestly, I am really digging this album (especially Barry Bonds and Flashing Lights).

Inspired in part by Tom Breihan’s Ten Favorite Moments on Kanye West’s Graduation, these are, in no particular order, my 10 least favorite lines from the album:

“I’m like the fly Malcolm X / buy any jeans necessary” (Good Morning).
Kanye’s insistence on perpetuating/celebrating his “Louis Vuitton don” image in verse won’t do him any favors, especially when his reputation as an award-show whiner already precedes him.

“Just a lil’ somethin’ to show you how we live / Everybody want it but it ain’t that se’ious” (Champion).
Look, I don’t care how many letters you take out of the word “serious”, it just doesn’t rhyme with the word “live.” No, it doesn’t.

“Do you even remember what the issue is? / You just trying to find where the tissue is / You can still be what you wish you is / It ain’t happened yet, and that’s what intuition is” (I Wonder).
If you didn’t notice, Kanye rhymes the word “is” four times there. This is a recurring theme. Keep reading.

“I feel the pressure, under the scrutiny / and what I do? Act more stupidly” (Can’t Tell Me Nothing).
“Act more stupidly.” Irony, right?

“Don’t ever fix your lips like collagen / Then say something where you gonna end up apolog’in.” (Can’t Tell Me Nothing).
I know. I’m white. But “apolog’in”? That’s a reach.

“Top five MCs you aint gotta remind me / top five MCs you gotta rewind me / I’m high up on the line you can get behind me / but my head so big you can’t sit behind me” (Barry Bonds).
Me, me, me, me. That’s about right.

“You more like ‘love to start shit’ / I’m more of the / trips to Flor-i-da” (Flashing Lights).
The delivery here really gets to me, and it probably only makes sense if you hear it in the context of the song. But the way he chops up Florida (sounds like FLOOR-I-DUH) to make it rhyme with “I’m more of the” makes me convulse. It’s agonizing.

“In two years Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade / and ‘ay / Please don’t start me / I’m like Gnarls Barkley meets Charles Barkley” (The Glory).
I … I … I don’t even know where to start. Someone tell me what Dwayne Wayne and Dwyane Wade have to do with each other? Please?

Chris Martin’s verse (Homecoming).

“But he got me out my mama crib / Then he helped me get my mama a crib.”
This whole song, this worshipping of Jay-Z is just … kinda creepy.

36 thoughts on “10 lines I can’t stand on Kanye’s Graduation”

  1. Man, Graduation is so lean. I couldn’t even listen to an entire Kanye album before. I’m conflicted too, but I have to say I love “act more stupidly”. Yeah, we’ll say it’s irony.

  2. My least favorite line:
    “How many ladies in the house… How many ladies in the house without a spouse? Something in your blouse got me feeling so aroused (pronounced “aroussed”)”

    Though, the one where he rhymes “Charles Barkley” with “Gnarls Barkley” is bad. It is almost like he doesn’t think Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse wanted that connection to be obvious.

  3. “I am really digging this album (especially Barry Bonds)”

    Kev, are you kidding me? Even with Lil Weezy (see my street slang in action, yo) that track is mucked up. And I actually like that ‘act more stupidly’ line…In my opinion the record still isn’t his best, but its good.

  4. Great post! It’s clunkers like these (among MANY others) that solidify my stance on absolutely refusing to purchase this album. I’ll admire the production, sure, but I’ve always found Ye’s mic skills to be cringe-inducing, if not flat-out embarrassing.

  5. While I like the Graduation CD alot, I despise Big Brother. I especially despise everyone who insists that the lyrics to that song are something special. They simply are not. So he has a man crush on Jay. Great. Enough already. The song is simply not that good. Nice post…I linked it…

  6. umm, where does one start on these towering examples of word-play?

    lyrical, he aint no Aesop / Canibus / Sage.

    there’s an appealing contrast between the above 3 with KW found between script produced in flowing calligraphy and that of a toddler scrawling in crayons.

    But this is pop music.

    The art is concealing the sub standard element/s amid “catchy tunes” and flashy vids.

  7. You know.. I’m not that much of a Kanye fan myself and I have to agree with you for the majority of your points here. I’ve had a copy of the album since it was officially released and I’ve only listened to it once, but I do have to play devils advocate on your third example.

    The rhyming key in those line does not consist of the word “is”… but of the preceeding syllable. It’s still not well executed, but when done right you could use the same punctuating word for a whole 16 bars and make it sound right if you flip the preceeding syllable the right way enough times. I wish I could think of a good example of this off the top of my head (I know they exist… that’s how I came to this realization myself in the first place a while ago).

    I can think of a worse infraction though. If you want to see a really bad example of using the same word look to Rza’s “Birth of a Prince” album where one of the guest MC’s rhymes the word “Jersey” 4 times in a row.

  8. I haven’t even bothered to pick up Graduation yet, so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt.

    No one picks up or plays Kanye with ultra-heady lyricism in mind. Folks want to party & have a good time or have something to ride out to. I realize that, as backpackers, we’re supposed to toss fun overboard in favor of keeping deep lyrics afloat, but if people are going to throw rocks at Kanye for not being superlyrical, they might as well gut everything before and including Run DMC from hiphop canon.

    That said …

    “I’m like the fly Malcolm X / buy any jeans necessary”

    Just a clever little flip of “by any means necessary” – nothing really wrong with that (and, hey, I’m not into the all the materialism – and Kanye addressed that a billion years ago on College Dropout).

    “Do you even remember what the issue is? / You just trying to find where the tissue is / You can still be what you wish you is / It ain’t happened yet, and that’s what intuition is”

    While the lines all end with “is,” it’s just at the tail end of multisyllabic rhymes — issue is / tissue is / wish you is / intuition is / (with “intuition” setting up a slant-ish rhyme) … Maybe I’ve been listening to too much Dipset (but I balance that out with my fair share of DOOM, Brother Ali, and ultra-indie rock), but rhyming the same word with itself within a multisyllabic rhyme is pretty acceptable. (Let’s not forget that one of the earliest examples of this kind of rhyming, that I can remember at least, was delivered via Beanie Sigel’s verse on “Adrenaline” off of The Roots’ Things Fall Apart.)

    Even rhyming the same word with itself with different contexts and meanings can be creative. Which brings me to:

    “Top five MCs you aint gotta remind me / top five MCs you gotta rewind me / I’m high up on the line you can get behind me / but my head so big you can’t sit behind me”

    Remind me / rewind me / behind me / behind me. The double behind-me’s are lame … at first glance, I thought the first one was referring to being able to get behind him in the sense of supporting something you believe in. On second glance, he means it in the same way as the second. Boo.

    “In two years Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade / and ‘ay / Please don’t start me / I’m like Gnarls Barkley meets Charles Barkley”

    If Dwayne Wayne = nerd and Dwayne Wade = basketball player (which they most certainly are, respectively), he’s charting his progress of status from outcast to baller. Similarly, the convergence of Gnarls Barkley and Charles Barkely = the convergence of musical outthereness & balling.

    I like Aesop, Canibus, and Sage as much as the next dude (okay, to be honest, probably less — I haven’t checked for Canibus in years, but the “1000 Bars” song I heard about piqued my curiosity), but c’mon. You mentioned it yourself – pop music.

    I think Rushmore and Friday are both fantastic.

    Is everyone up on http://gabesaidwereintomovements.blogspot.com? If not, I recommend starting at the beginning.

  9. yah you dont get it. thats is stlye. reaching out, thinking outside the box. using his tone and acccent to manipulate words to MAKE them rhyme. Em does it too. thats why hes the greatest free stlyer ever. this album is unbelievable. Homecoming!!! are you kidding. that whole song is about Chicago, but it sounds like hes rapping bout a chick. so sick!

  10. yall are garbage. pop music??? are you serious.

    its a new style. i like all hip hop, but stuff now days is so tired. he raps about meaningful stuff, with the occasional cocky lines. but thats him!! thats why i love him. he admits hes cocky, and insecure. He has fun with it. everyone doubted him…..everyone. even Jay. one reason why that song is so sick. Jay didnt just hand it to kanye. he made him work hard for it. real hard. thats why he is the best right now. Yes he is mainstream, but half the people listening dont get his lyrics, they just like his beats. his lyrics are what make him. His lyrics are retarded!!!!

    Treasure. What’s you pleasure?
    Life is a, uh, depending how you dress her.
    So if the devil wear Prada,
    Adam Eve wear Nada,
    I’m in between, but way more fresher.

    Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong
    I guess you never know what you got till its gone
    I guess this is why I’m here and I can’t come back home
    And guess when I heard that? When I was back home.

    need i say more. dont hate him. He aint cocky, hes humble. hes just having fun. but yall are too wrapped him in that weak ass hip hop where they rap fast about nothing important.

  11. The Dwayne Wayne thing.. goes like this.. hes showing how Dwayne Wayne (Lil Wayne) became like D-Wade from the Miami Heat.. Outta no where and blew up fast… and then he compares that to how Gnarles Barkley meets Charles Barkley.. basiclly its an NBA relationship to music.. tough to understnad I know.. but you gotta know Kanye to understand it better I guess.. anymore questions get at me on AOL .. HoVa Zero94

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  13. Hey Kevin, stop acting like you understand rap lyrics. you obviously have no idea what you are talking about. It is so easy for outsiders to criticize rap lyrics for not being meaningful enough. . . yet the lens through which you view the lyrics is so skewed. Rock/pop songs typically contain 2-3 verses of 4 lines each, meaning a rock musician usually need only write 12 lines or so of music for a song. Rap on the other land, typically contains 30-40 lines of unique lyrics. Now, how can EVERY single line be meaningful and perfect?! of course it can’t. To randomly pick through an album and choose lines that you dislike is to entirely miss the point. Look at the song/album as a whole, and see how meaningful that is. If you still think that Kanye’s songs and his album are stupid and empty, then fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But you at least need to view the music through the correct lens.

  14. “you can live through anything if magic made it”

    “i drop gems (gyms) like i dropped out of P.E.”

    “Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on the clouds”

    You should go head and bow so hard till your knees hit your forehead”

    Thats all i gotta say if you think that Kanye is not lyrical and that theres no meaning behind his lines than you’re retarded or u just need to stop listening to hip-hop because u cant relate…..all in all this is ye’s worst album yet and it’s still good a top 3 album of the year

    Best tracks:

    Flashing lights
    Barry Bonds
    everything i am
    Cant tell me nothing

  15. major lol’z for the author of this page, clearly on a decent troll here. but if you honestly don’t like / understand these lyrics then maybe you need to find a new genre of music

  16. uhhh…you do know he’s not exactly rhyming is w/ is, right?

    wish you
    intuition ( the first half at least…)

    ^^^^ all words that rhyme, he just added “is” at the end of every single one…

    same thing about the “me” line

    behind (okay..he uses it twice…)

    ^^^ all rhyming words

  17. ummmmmmm really these are some of the better lines he has in the album….ur just being one of the Kanye haters…most of his lyrics are actually pretty smart and make sense.

  18. Are you guys slow? Just because the last word of the four lines is ‘is’, doesn’t mean that he didn’t rhyme anything. How about reading the words before it. It’s still rhyming. On a basic level, but clearly too high for your intellectual capacities.

  19. Author has for to be trolling, “in two years Dwayne wayne became Dwayne wade” is talking about how in the gap between his albums he went from a nobody (Dwayne Wayne the fictional character) to hugely famous (Dwayne wade the NBA star), the “is” and “me lines, look at the words before, they all rhyme. The apologin’ line tons of the best MCs twist words around to rhyme, look at Em, I could go on but I think I made my point, if not you’re too stupid to bother continuing trying to explain it too

  20. I’m about five years late, but you’re lame as fuck. Some of the greatest poets make slant rhymes you dumb shit. To judge Kanye’s rap by the bullshit you put on this dumb ass website is completely idiotic. Stupid motherfucker.

  21. Haha you fucker. You listed some of the best lines from the album. You’re just another one of those over-analytical internet fucks that no one likes. Your views are null and void.

  22. You dumb fuck, he did not rhyme is 4 times. The last word of the line is NOT always the rhyme word.

    He rhymed Issue, Tissue, Wish you, and intuition (intuition doesn’t rhyme, I’ll give you that)

  23. 1.”I’m like a fly Malcolm x buy any jeans necessary” is kanye’s twist on Malcom x’s ” by any mean necessary”.
    -come on just turned one of Malcom x’s legendary statements and to turn it into an also incredible and well written line, why would you hate.

    2.”do you even remember what the issue is?/you just tryin find where the tissue is, you can still be what you wish you is, it ain’t happen yet an that what intuition is” almost everything besides is rhymes as well “issue, tissue, is and intuition, plus the last line is insane, basically saying people that don’t find there screams just end up in college, GENIUS!

    3.i was gonna make a list but if your dont like kanye your obviously slow to even doubt the incredible gems is unforgivable in my book, you sir are scum

  24. hey to clear up what you asked about the dwayne wayne/dwayne wade line hes talking about himself in 2004 and himself in 2006 (i know hes ALWAYS talking about himself) but yeah it was quite the transition for kanye in 2004 he was a geeky producer whom was only known by people who actually read producing credits in the cd case, in 2006 hes an extremely successful rap artist full of swag whose first two albums both won grammy for rap album of the year, something hes won for every solo album except 808s (not a rap album) so yeah its a valid comparison, oh and he was about to end 50 cents career too when he wrote that

  25. I understand why you would be conflicted. And I know it’s just about personal opinion. But here’s my opinion: firstly, rap is an offspring of urbanization. It doesn’t consist of perfect grammer. Music in general doesn’t consist of perfect grammer. The rap genre isnt a sonnet, with perfect structure. It’s about free flow. It’s like the polluck in the music industry. Anything can be stretched. Some of the lines you thought were a stretch weren’t really a stretch. People drop syllables all of the time. Especially in poetry. In spanish, many poets drop syllables in order to meet the rhyme scheme. Please don’t let a few lines that don’t follow the english grammer rules prevent you from deeming this album as great. But I respect your opinion.

  26. Kanye wasn’t rhyming “is” and “me” repetitively. He was employing an internal rhyme with issue.
    “Do you even remember what the ISSUE is? / You just trying to find where the TISSUE is / You can still be what you WISH YOU is / It ain’t happened yet, and that’s what INTUition is”
    and he was not rhyming “me”, it was another example of internal rhyming.
    “Top five MCs you aint gotta REMIND me / top five MCs you gotta REWIND me / I’m high up on the line you can get BEHIND me / but my head so big you can’t sit BEHIND me” (Barry Bonds).
    The guy is clever sometimes, you’ll have to look at his lyrics closely to see it.

  27. he is using the dwayne wayne reference to tie in the idea that he came from the streets, where many had to sell “rock/roc” to get by – ie drug dealing. Wade explains itself – a sick shooter and emblem of success. I could be wrong but this is my best guess @djsixgrams

  28. Yo I know this is hella old but I have serious issues with your dissection of lyrics. I know other people have said it but in the third one, he does not rhyme is with is. Issue-tissue-wishyou… internal vs external rhymes is poetry 101

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