Kanye West’s “Graduation” Turns 16

On Graduation, Kanye West delivered an undeniable Hip Hop classic. It’s no wonder that 16 years later, the album is still being lauded as a timeless body of work. Throughout his career, West has consistently evolved his musical style, embracing several different genres, and molding them to take whatever shape he chooses. By whatever measure, the artistic visionary has always found ways to top his previous works. In 2007, he reassured the world of his groundbreaking talents, offering an album that truly exemplified his genius and rounded out a flawless trilogy. Kanye West may have ventured into other artistic directions, but Graduation remains one of Hip Hop’s most innovative projects of all time. 

Read More: Kanye West’s Stage Designs: A Brief History

Background And Release

LAS VEGAS – SEPTEMBER 09: Rappers Kanye West (L) and 50 Cent present the “Most Earth-Shattering Collaboration” award on stage during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards held at The Palms Hotel and Casino on September 9, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Released on September 11, 2007, and was a monumental success upon release. Better yet, Graduation was a remarkable moment in hip-hop history, as Kanye West and 50 Cent were neck and neck for the best first-week sales that week. While the latter’s Curtis debuted in the second spot, West claimed the throne, with 957,000 copies sold.  By the time Graduation was released, Kanye West had already established himself as a noteworthy producer and rapper. His debut album, The College Dropout, introduced a more conscious and soulful style to Hip Hop’s commercial appeal. Additionally, his sophomore project, Late Registration, leaned into a more orchestral direction. However, Graduation introduced a more electronic-inspired sound to mainstream rap.

Read More: What Is Kanye West’s Net Worth?

Production And Musical Style


Kanye West significantly shifted his overall sound while working on Graduation. As previously mentioned, the album embraced electronic and pop elements, delivering a more progressive rap style for listeners. Throughout the album, synthesizers are prominently used. Most famously, he samples Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on “Stronger.”The now-Diamond-certified hit was a bold move by the rapper. However, it paid off tremendously, merging tinges of electronic music with hip-hop’s ethos, and influencing other artists after him to do the same. Moreover, Graduation was predominantly produced by Kanye West himself, with assistance from veteran producer Mike Dean. 

Read More: Kanye West’s Albums, Ranked

Singles And Guest Appearances


Graduation had five singles released out of 13 tracks. “Stronger” was the most successful of them all, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The other four were “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Good Life,” “Flashing Lights,” and “Homecoming,” all of which had varying successes on the charts. T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Amos Def, Dwele, and Chris Martin all have guest appearances on the album.

While proving to be a commercial hit, the leap of faith Kanye took on Graduation is noteworthy. The album garnered praised for its successful musical experimentation, cohesiveness, and West’s introspective lyricism. So far, it has been certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA. To this day, Graduation is still widely regarded as one of the best albums of 2007.

Read More: Kanye West’s “College Dropout” Songs Ranked, Best To Worst

Cultural Impact and Legacy


This iconic album had a profound cultural impact. Ye’s ability to push the boundaries, once again, undoubtedly influenced the sound of Hip Hop and pop music at large in the mid-2000s. Kanye helped further bridge the gap between Hip Hop and electro sounds, while simultaneously boosting Daft Punk’s presence in the United States.

Even now, 16 years after its release, the album has yet to lose its magic. Furthermore, it continues to blow the minds of music enthusiasts, old and new. As far as influential albums go, Kanye West masterfully shone on Graduation, becoming a continued proof of his musical genius. Moreover, his ability to keep evolving artistically cements him as one of the genre’s greatest talents.