What Does He Made Graduation Mean by Kanye West? – Top10SM

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Decoding Kanye: The Complex Legacy of Hip-Hop‘s Most Polarizing Provocateur

Yeezy, Ye, Yeezus, genius, provocateur, madman. Kanye West has been called many things over his decades-spanning, constantly evolving career. But say what you will about Kanye as a person – his artistic brilliance is undeniable. When Kanye is at his best, magic happens. Classics are made. Culture shifts.

Even as his controversial statements pile up and corporations cut ties, Kanye‘s oeuvre stands tall. Whenever he courts outrage, fans rally with a simple refrain – "But he made Graduation."

For the uninitiated, Graduation is Kanye‘s third studio album, released in 2007 to universal acclaim. With synth-soaked anthems like "Stronger" and "Good Life," Graduation took hip-hop to stadium heights, selling nearly 1 million copies in its first week. But what does "He Made Graduation" really mean? And how do we reconcile Kanye‘s genius with his unfiltered id?

I‘m just a streaming-obsessed, tech-loving geek, but let‘s dive deep on the art, artist and that legendary album.

Kanye‘s Evolution – A Brief History

Before he was a meme-ified mad genius, Kanye Omari West was an ambitious producer from Chicago with a dream of rapping. After struggling to gain acceptance, Kanye broke through by producing Jay-Z‘s 2001 LP The Blueprint – transforming Kanye‘s chipmunk soul samples into hip-hop gold.

Kanye‘s debut The College Dropout arrived in 2004, melding soul, gospel, and self-aware lyrics. On the strength of hits like "Through The Wire" and "Jesus Walks," Dropout earned Kanye 10 Grammy nominations and universal praise. Gone were gangsta rap tropes – Kanye redefined hip-hop as a vulnerable, middle-class striver.

2005 brought Late Registration and further sonic experimentation, blending baroque instrumentation with Curtiss King‘s lush string arrangements. "Diamonds of Sierra Leone" and "Hey Mama" exhibited Kanye maturing as a conscious voice. Then 2007 changed everything.

The Magnum Opus – Graduation

After two critically acclaimed albums, the pressure was on. 50 Cent was primed to dominate with his Curtis LP. But Kanye beat 50 in a heavily hyped sales battle by embracing stadium pop and EDM styles. Ditching rap orthodoxy, he exploded hip-hop‘s boundaries.

Kanye summed up his new outlook on "Champion" – "You should leave if you can‘t lend a hand." No longer just the underdog, he oozed confidence. On "Stronger," Daft Punk‘s robotic vocals melded with Kanye‘s bravado and insecure honesty. The synth-heavy sound encapsulated Kanye‘s cybernetic, post-human vision. "Stronger" spent 10 weeks at number one, becoming one of his biggest pop crossovers.

The part-sentimental, part-braggadocio "I Wonder" showed introspection about fame‘s isolation. "Good Life" captured maximalist escapism with a decadent T-Pain hook. Songs like "Flashing Lights" and "Everything I Am" boasted vintage Kanye soul samples blended into a synth-rock hybrid. As critics noted, no hip-hop album had ever sounded so colossal.

Graduation mixing alternative flourishes with rap swagger wasn‘t revolutionary. But Kanye‘s magnetic charisma and ear for hooks elevated stadium rap to unprecedented heights. In an era ruled by gangsta tropes, he let vulnerable insecurities show through the flash.

Graduation captured a pop star at his peak – before tabloid meltdowns and political delusions. For the next decade, Kanye chased this creative apex again and again.

Crowning Achievement or Unearned Legacy?

Graduation‘s impact by the numbers speaks for itself. Powered by five smash singles, the album sold 957,000 copies in its first week. It became Kanye‘s second consecutive number one debut, defeated 50 Cent‘s Curtis, and marked the year‘s second-highest opening week. By 2008, Graduation was certified triple platinum with over 3.4 million copies sold.

Beyond sales, Graduation‘s acclaim cemented Kanye as this generation‘s creative driving force. Rolling Stone named it the year‘s second-best album, applauding how Kanye "pivots hip-hop into a new era." It netted Best Rap Album at the Grammys while Spin dubbed Graduation "a masterpiece of heritage and modernism."

Since 2007, rappers from Drake to Kid Cudi have cited Graduation as direct inspiration for their own genre-mashing. Data shows the album hasn‘t lost relevancy – this year, streams have spiked by 325%.

But does commercial success and influence justify Graduation‘s hallowed place given Kanye‘s downward spiral? Critics argue we overstate its greatness based on what Kanye represented then versus who he is now.

There‘s truth that Graduation shone so brightly because it marked Kanye‘s zenith. His potential looked limitless, before chaos took over. But ultimately, the music stands alone – an electrifying vision of stadium dominance from hip-hop‘s greatest rock star. For a generation, Graduation‘s mantra of "chase your dreams" felt intoxicatingly real.

"He Made Graduation" – Explaining the Meme

In 2022, Kanye is more infamous for unhinged rants than celebrated for music. But whenever he sparks outrage, fans retort "Well, he made Graduation" – shorthand for saying his genius outweighs his madness.

This meme originated recently on TikTok as Kanye cycled through controversies. When Kanye claimed slavery "sounds like a choice," TikTokers responded with the Graduation defense. As his bizarre presidential bid floundered, people again praised Graduation‘s legacy.

The meme really exploded in October 2022 when Kanye‘s anti-Semitic threats led to his suspension from Twitter and Instagram. Searches for "Kanye West Graduation album" skyrocketed 530%, reflecting renewed debate. His old music offered nostalgic escape.

On TikTok, remixes and jokes abound. In one clip, Kanye rants about Hitler before a lawyer interjects "But your honor, he made Graduation." The video scored over 18,000 likes, illustrating the meme‘s appeal.

Data shows TikTok videos tagged #HeMadeGraduation have over 19 million views. The meme perfectly encapsulates the tug-of-war over Kanye – how fans process his duality as both all-time great artist and unhinged bully.

Understanding Kanye’s Controversies

No musician courts outrage quite like Kanye West. Just when it seems he‘s hit rock bottom, Kanye somehow finds a way to sink lower. Where does it stem from? Mental illness? Attention-seeking? Or simply an unfiltered, mercurial genius prone to self-sabotage?

Kanye‘s controversies date back to 2005, when he accused George Bush of not caring about Black people after Hurricane Katrina. But things escalated after his mother‘s tragic 2007 death left Kanye unmoored. He rudely interrupted Taylor Swift‘s 2009 VMA speech in a misguided attempt to defend Beyoncé‘s art. Kanye admitted years later to being addicted to opioids during this volatile period.

His 2010 masterwork My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy dealt transparently with guilt and sin amidst public shaming. But controversy followed again when Kanye and Kim Kardashian divorced in 2022 after Kanye‘s frightening social media harassment of Kim‘s new boyfriend Pete Davidson.

Kanye‘s troubling behavior worsened during his failed 2020 presidential run on an incoherent platform. He posted rambling Twitter diatribes, aired dirty laundry about Kim and Kris Jenner, and made bizarre claims like saying Harriet Tubman "never actually freed the slaves." He embraced Trumpism by wearing MAGA hats, despite Kanye‘s history of progressive activism.

In 2022, Kanye made his most dangerous comments yet. He threatened on Instagram to go “death con 3" on Jewish people and praised Hitler and Nazis multiple times on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones‘ InfoWars show. These anti-Semitic remarks got Kanye suspended from social media giants and led Adidas to sever its lucrative Yeezy deal.

Many wrote off his slavery remarks as just tangential social commentary. The MAGA pivot seemed a hapless publicity ploy. But the anti-Semitic threats cross a line. However we interpret Kanye’s words, the consequences here are real and harmful.

The case highlights the complexities of separating art from artist. Can we still bump Graduation while condemning anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial? Where exactly is the line between provocative opinions and dangerous hate speech?

There are no easy answers. But Graduation‘s joyful sound feels increasingly incongruous with its creator‘s darkness.

The Nuanced Picture – Mental Illness and The Myth of Genius

Simply canceling Kanye as irredeemable feels reductive given his mental health struggles. He has acknowledged a bipolar diagnosis and likened his erratic highs and lows to a "superpower."

Manic episodes may help explain his inflated, godlike self-image and conspiracy theories about the Kardashians or music industry persecuting him. Therapists have analyzed how bipolar can also manifest in impulsive tweets, lavish spending, and lashing out during cycles of mania and depression.

But mental illness does not absolve Kanye of accountability either. He has resisted treatment and therapy while refusing to manage his illness. Kanye has surrounded himself with yes-men who enable his worst impulses instead of challenging them. Being rich, famous, and proclaimed a "genius" his whole career has distorted Kanye‘s worldview in unhealthy ways too.

Does intense talent justify bad behavior? History offers cautionary tales. Many "eccentric" artists like Pablo Picasso, Alfred Hitchcock, and Phil Spector created beloved works while exhibiting predatory, abusive actions in their personal lives. Genius should never excuse causing harm.

For Kanye, the situation remains fluid and more complex than simply "cancelling" him. His music at its best brings joy to millions. Perhaps the answer lies in encouraging positive growth and accountability moving forward, rather than writing someone off entirely based on their worst moments.

The Art Outlives The Artist

Kanye West will likely spend the rest of his public life vacillating between brilliance and mayhem, visionary and villain. He is a man of dizzying contradictions. For now, the art remains – reminding us of better days when hip-hop‘s biggest rock star aimed for the stars, not self-immolation.

Other polarizing artists like Michael Jackson have shown that great work can often outlive scandal. The phrase “He made Thriller” carries the same pragmatic sentiment – we cannot erase culture-changing genius, even if its creator falls from grace.

With distance, future generations may view "He Made Graduation" merely as acknowledgement of Kanye‘s immense cultural impact. The art will outlive the artist. But there is still time for Kanye himself to become a healthier person.

So spin up Graduation again. Appreciate its beauty. But do not forget Kanye must still answer for spreading dangerous lies and hatred. As always with Kanye, things are complicated. The music remains simple. So for now, just enjoy the classics and hope this icon finds a path to redemption. After all, as Kanye himself once said – "Having money isn‘t everything. Not having it is."


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.