The Chipmunks are so hot right now. Sped-up vocal samples are all over the charts, from pop to hip-hop to R&B, and touring rock act Battles are also big fans.
Trendsetter Kanye West has noticed this too, and the chipmunks and other vocal samples feature heavily on Graduation, West's polished but patchy third album that falls short of his lofty ambitions.
"Bow in the presence of greatness," he raps on Stronger, the Daft Punk-sampling second single that proves West's arrogance and swagger is still present and correct. We won't bow yet, Mr West, but maybe one day.
There are highlights. Party-starter Good Life pulls off those chipmunk vocals, while standout single Can't Tell Me Nothing has West dreaming about "buying my way into heaven". With a track that good, he's guaranteed a seat in first-class.
But elsewhere, those vocal samples become overbearing. Flashing Lights and The Glory are cheesy throwaways, while Drunk & Hot Girls is a plodding bore. And Chris Martin should have stayed at home instead of venturing out for Homecoming.
That Graduation will be considered as the best hip-hop album of the year is almost certain, and it wipes the floor with 50 Cent's Curtis.
But that isn't saying much when West's competition is Mims and T-Pain. Kanye works best when he's under pressure - maybe Graduation is just a sign of the hip-hop times.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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