|Studio album by Kanye West|
|Released||August 30, 2005|
Record Plant Studios, Chalice Recording Studios, Grandmaster Recording Studios
Sony Music Studios
(New York, New York)
|Label||Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam|
|Producer||Kanye West, Jon Brion, Devo Springsteen, Just Blaze, Warryn Campbell|
|Kanye West chronology|
|Singles from Late Registration|
Late Registration is the second studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released on August 30, 2005, by Roc-A-Fella Records. Recording sessions for the album took place over the course of a year at Record Plant Studios, Chalice Recording Studios, and Grandmaster Recording Studios in Hollywood, and at Sony Music Studios in New York City. West collaborated with American record producer and composer Jon Brion to produce Late Registration, and the album features guest contributions from artists such as Jay-Z, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Jamie Foxx, Nas, Brandy, and Adam Levine, among others.
The production is notably more lush and elaborate than West's previous album, The College Dropout. By collaborating with Jon Brion, West was able to utilize production styles and instruments not commonly associated with hip-hop music. More intricate sampling methods and the inclusion of string arrangements meant that the production featured on the album was unique to hip-hop music. West sought to deliver lyrics that allowed him to continue his style of storytelling during songs, and the album covers topics of social issues, such as poverty, drug trafficking, health care, and blood diamond trades.
The album produced five singles, including the international hits "Touch the Sky", "Heard 'Em Say" and "Gold Digger", the latter topping the Billboard Hot 100 at number one. Music videos for all five singles were produced. West supported the album with a promotional concert tour, and the live album Late Orchestration. Late Registration debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 860,000 copies in its first week. The album has sold over 3.1 million units in the United States and has been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Upon its release, Late Registration received rave reviews from music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards and an Album of the Year nomination. It appeared at the top of several publications year-end lists of top albums. Rolling Stone named it the best album of 2005, and included it at number 118 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012.
Late Registration is the second of Kanye West's planned four education-themed studio albums. Following the major success of The College Dropout, the album reveals his progression in writing lyrics and an incorporation of a wider range of musical styles. At the time, the focal point of West's production style was the use of sped-up vocal samples from soul records. However, due in part to the acclaim of The College Dropout, such sampling had been much copied by others; with that overuse, and also because West felt he had become too dependent on the technique, he decided to find a new sound.
A longtime fan of the English trip hop group Portishead, West had been significantly influenced by Roseland NYC Live, the band's 1998 live album with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Early in his career, the live album had inspired him to incorporate string arrangements into his hip hop production. Though West had not been able to afford many live instruments around the time of his debut album, the money from his commercial success enabled him to hire a string orchestra for his second album. West juxtaposed the lush, intricate melodies of the string section with the hard, pounding drum rhythms of hip-hop, and used the sound for the foundation of his rapping.
West collaborated with American film score composer Jon Brion, who served as the album's co-executive producer for several tracks. West had been exposed to Brion's work while watching the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for which Brion had composed music. West was also listening to songs Brion had produced for When the Pawn..., the second studio album of alternative singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, another one of West's favorite musicians and sources of musical inspiration for the album. Although Brion had no prior experience in creating hip-hop records, he and West found that they could productively work together after their first afternoon in the studio where they discovered that neither confined his musical knowledge and vision to one specific genre. When questioned if his presence made Late Registration any less hip-hop, Brion replied, "There are colors and ideas that make [the album] different from average hip-hop, but Kanye is already different from the average hip-hop guy. He's got this sense of pop record-making which is really solid, and he likes tracks with a lot of things going on in them — which is not necessarily common for hip-hop. He was already barking up that tree. This is definitely not just a hip-hop album. But it is also by no means overtly arty, or non-hip-hop. I don't think it's a weird record by any means."
West took over a year and invested two million dollars towards the construction of Late Registration. The majority of the recording sessions for the album took place at Sony Music Studios in New York City and at The Record Plant in Hollywood, California; other sessions took place at Chalice Recording Studios and Grandmaster Recording Studios in Hollywood. He began working in the studio after he finished touring with Usher on the R&B singer's The Truth Tour. By November 2004, West had completed nearly seventy-five percent of the album. However he felt unsatisfied with its outcome and in March of the following year, he brought in Jon Brion, which drastically altered the project's direction.
The album's recording sessions between West and Brion were largely exploratory, with the two experimenting with a broad spectrum of sounds. West would construct a song's basic structure, bringing in samples, drum beat programming and occasionally unfinished rap verses. After brainstorming over the musical direction the album could go, he would then select from a variety of unique instruments that Brion provided (and played) and attempt to incorporate their distinctive sound into the song's texture. West envisioned the album as like the creation of a film: visualizing the songs as scenes, outlining each in such a way that they efficiently conveyed their respective social or introspective context, and ensuring that all synchronized within the fabric of the complete set. This sentiment was shared by Jon Brion who said, "He thinks in frequency ranges. I can recognize when someone sees music architecturally, which is how I work. I see it as a spatial thing: left to right, front to back, up and down. It's animated and it's moving in real time. Kanye has that. He tries things out until it fits, until it sits where it is supposed to sit and everything has the correct emotional function. He has real instincts like any great record-maker."
Late Registration has a diverse number of collaborations for its individual tracks. West chose his guest artists based on the effect each of their voices had on him when he heard them, citing the serene vocals of Adam Levine, the trademark sound of Brandy, and the lyricism of Lupe Fiasco and Paul Wall as primary examples. Adam Levine, lead vocalist of pop rock band Maroon 5 is featured on the album's opening track, "Heard 'Em Say." The two had previously collaborated when Maroon 5 commissioned West to produce a remix for "This Love" and later developed a friendship while sitting together on a flight to Rome for the 2004 MTV Europe Music Awards. While playing songs from his second album on his iPod for him during the flight, West came across the demo for "Heard 'Em Say" to which Levine added a R&B hook he had recently written and thought was perfect for it. The track was recorded quickly after the 2005 Grammy Awards ceremony, as Levine only had a couple of free hours available for time in the studio, and Brion was able to translate the two compositions in a matter of hours.
West originally produced and recorded "Gold Digger" in Ludacris's home in Atlanta, Georgia for Shawnna's 2004 debut album Worth Tha Weight and had written the chorus from a female first-person viewpoint. However, Shawnna passed on the song. West rewrote the two verses from a male's point-of-view for himself; about a year later, just before "Gold Digger" was set to be released, adding a third verse, recording and mastering it at Sony Music Studios in New York in a week. After he went with friend John Mayer to see Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles in the 2004 film Ray, West decided to have Foxx sing an interpolation of Charles' song "I Got a Woman" in place of the original sample. Once the track was in place, it was layered with additional instruments provided by Brion and individually selected by West.
Houston-based rapper Paul Wall appears alongside West and his G.O.O.D. Music label-mate GLC on "Drive Slow", which was recorded in Los Angeles after the two had met while posing for a photo shoot in an August issue of King magazine in a spread titled "Coming Kings". West had originally wanted Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. to appear on the track, but she opted out of the appearance due to a busy schedule. "My Way Home" is performed by West's close friend and G.O.O.D. Music associate Common, whose sixth studio album Be was being produced and recorded by West simultaneously with Late Registration. Certain tracks West originally crafted for Be that Common passed on subsequently ended up on his second album.
While the original version of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" featured West as the sole performer, he decided to record a remix to the song which included guest verse provided by Jay-Z—who had come out of retirement from rapping—after learning of the civil war in Sierra Leone financed by conflict diamonds. Both the original and remix versions of "Diamond from Sierra Leone" appear on the album, with the former included as a bonus track. The song contains live drums played by Michel Gondry, the director of Eternal Sunshine and later the first music video for "Heard 'Em Say", who had visited the studio on a day Brion set up a drum kit. According to Jay-Z, West mixed "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" about fourteen times before he felt comfortable to release it as the album's lead single. The recording also experienced delay when West and Brion were required to wait two weeks to rent the harpsichord that they used for percussion on the song.
West recorded a verse by rap artist Nas—one of his idol rappers—for the track "We Major" without informing Jay-Z, who at the time was engaged in a feud with Nas. G.O.O.D, music label-mate Really Doe also appears on the track, delivering its elongated chorus. West later revealed that part of the reason he created the song was to dismantle the feud between the MCs, which they did later that year. "Hey Mama", dedicated to his mother Donda West, was originally recorded by West as early as 2000. Brion ran into some obstruction while conducting a twenty-piece orchestra for "Celebration", as its musicians found themselves giggling at West's humorous lyrics which hampered their playing. It was also on the track that West and Brion had some minor discord; Brion initially layered it with keyboard arrangements, only for West to remove his keys along with the beat and completely reconfigure the entire song in such a way that its verses are built around the rhythm formed by his vocals and Brion's arrangements arrive during the choruses. Brion later lightheartedly compared the indecision surrounding the construction of the track to that of Prince's famous last-minute removal of the bass line from "When Doves Cry."
Music and style
On Late Registration, West drew inspiration from English trip hop band Portishead and collaborated with film score composer Jon Brion. The album's music blends West's primary soulful hip hop production with Brion's elaborate chamber pop orchestration, and experimentally delves into a wide array of different genres, including alto jazz, blues, rock, R&B, spoken word, funk, turntablism, western classical, and psychedelic soul. With the presence of Brion, who conducts a twenty-piece orchestra and plays instruments individually selected by West, the album is largely orchestral in nature, brandishing a euphony of string arrangements, piano chords, brass flecks, and horn riffs among other symphonic instrumentation. They also incorporated a myriad of foreign and vintage instruments not typical in popular music, let alone hip hop, such as a celesta, harpsichord, Chamberlin, CS-80 analog synthesizer, Chinese bells and berimbau, vibraphones, and marimba.
Serena Kim of Vibe finds the album's unconventional styles and sudden musical shifts of the song structures to be similar to The Beatles during their experimental era. Rolling Stone described Late Registration as West claiming "the whole world of music as hip-hop turf" chronicling the album as "his mad quest to explode every cliché about hip-hop identity." Kim concurred with this sentiment, stating, "West ambitiously attempts to depart from the street sensibilities of Dropout by giving Late Registration a shiny, quasi-alt-pop finish."
"Gold Digger" is a bouncy track containing Ray Charles interpolation.
"Hey Mama" is a song about West's late mother, with a looped "La-la-la" beat which features additional synths.
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The album's opening track "Heard 'Em Say" exhibits a cascading piano melody provided by excerpts of "Someone That I Used To Love" as performed by Natalie Cole embellished over tumbling beats and warped bass as well as acoustic guitar. The song's intricately composed outro, which adopts new sonic elements such as synthesizer and foreign bells, exemplifies the musical complexity of the album as a whole. "Touch the Sky" stands as the sole song on the entire album not to feature production by West. The song was produced by fellow Roc-a-Fella producer Just Blaze, who uses a slowed-down sample of Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" filled with jubilant Latin horn blares and dynamic drum patterns. "Gold Digger" contains an interpolation of "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles and a bouncy beat formed from handclaps as well as scratches by West's touring DJ A-Trak. Towards the end, the song employs vintage 1970s synthesizers which emit a honking sound in cadence to Kanye's voice. West's production approach comes full circle within "Drive Slow", a song that samples Hank Crawford's "Wildflower" and distinctively retains a sluggish but smooth alto jazz-infused drum loop, antithetical to his once essential sped-up soul style.
The interlude "My Way Home" contains a sample of "Home is Where the Hatred Is" by Gil Scott-Heron. This facet is accentuated by Common's performance, which pays homage to the poet by the delivering its single verse in a distinctive proto-rap manner reminiscent of Scott-Heron's influential vocal style. "Crack Music" is sparsely built on incessant snare drum hits and clipped horn blares. The track sees an ephemeral return of West's old production attributes, as it possesses a syncopated martial beat, gospel choir symphony, and a spoken word passage within its coda. The poetic "Roses" is partially a cappella in structure, displaying verses rapped over sparse keyboards and a slowed rhythm with the music arriving at the chorus, which features additional vocals, trumpet riffs, electric guitar phrasings, and finally a line sampled from Bill Withers' "Rosie". "Bring Me Down" carries a bombast dramatic air, as it holds more orchestration than any other track on Late Registration. Additionally, it features an overdubbing of Brandy's vocals to create a chorus effect, a recording technique in which her lone voice produces the illusion of a choir singing harmonies during the choruses. The up-tempo arrangement of "Addiction" contains ambient, rhythmic guitar licks, congas, filtered hi-hats and a sampled line from "My Funny Valentine" as performed by Etta James. All the while, West's overdubbed vocals reverbs in and out of the track. For "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", West used a looped vocal sample of the theme song for the 1971 James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever as performed by Shirley Bassey and layered it with live drums, piano keys, horn stabs, harpsichord arpeggios, and string arrangements that all build in intensity with his voice.
Late Registration's longest track, the seven minute-long "We Major", implements exuberant, amplified backing vocals and a "splashy disco groove" embellished by horn blares, droning bassline, and electric piano glissandos. The melody of "Hey Mama" is laced with a folksy looped "La-la-la" vocal sample from "Today Won't Come Again" by Donal Leace while its beat is produced by a tin drum. Additionally, it contains vocoder-processed background vocals, a xylophone solo and a cascading synth outro. Opening with an electronic twinkling sound, "Celebration" contains samples of "Heavenly Dream" by The KayGees. A columnist for The Guardian described it as evoking "the lavish 1970s psychedelic soul of Rotary Connection." Some of the most elaborate orchestral arrangement expressed on the entire album is contained within its closing track "Gone." The composition begins with a vocal sample of "It's Too Late" by Otis Redding and a two-chord piano ostinato, followed by a simplistic funk beat. As the song progresses, its structure gradually morphs and develops more and more musicality. Overtime, the composition assumes ten violins, four violas and four cellos in the midst of verses, all of which initially come in brief staccato bursts that simply punctuate the rhythm but eventually expand and consolidate into a fully formed string section by the arrival of the harmonic choruses. After its third verse, the song enters an instrumental passage before returning with a fourth verse from West, where the rise and fall of his voice is intricately emulated by the fluctuation of the string orchestra.
According to Josh Tyrangiel of Time magazine, the album primarily serves as an exhibition of "the stealthy power of West's storytelling." West stated that his objective was to touch on topics that people from all walks of life could relate to while remaining true to himself, explaining that he wanted to have, "raps that were just as ill as Jadakiss and just as understandable as Will Smith." The opening track "Heard 'Em Say" is a "mournfully contemplative" song that "talks about being honest with yourself in a world that is not." The song is written from the perspective of an afflicted, impoverished American quietly lamenting the fallacies of society and questioning the ways of the world around him. West delivers a tongue-in-cheek lyrical narrative within "Gold Digger" in which he critically depicts the disastrous life of a man married to a woman who manipulates him for financial gain. However, another story arises within the third verse, which illustrates a once destitute black male who earns a fortune and decides to leave a loyal, unselfish girlfriend for a white girl.
"Crack Music" continues the avenue of socio-political commentary initiated within "Heard 'Em Say." However, two songs express polar opposite tones; where "Heard 'Em Say" was self-effacing and passive-aggressive, "Crack Music" is audacious and straightforward. In the song, West dually discusses the spread and devastating impact of crack cocaine in black communities and champions the sovereignty of music pioneered by black musicians, metaphorically equating their contrarily addictive power and influence on American society. On the sentimental "Roses", Kanye gives a firsthand account of the hospitalization of his ailing grandmother within a melancholic poem to produce a critique of the healthcare system.
The original version of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" is largely free-associative and is filled with a litany of lyrical punchlines which serve to loosely chronicle his past experiences being a part of the Roc-A-Fella family, from touring with Jay-Z on his Blueprint Lounge Tour to the label's subsequent fall out and revival. However, West uses the remix to "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" to directly address the issue of "blood diamonds" that people unknowingly wear every day are used to fund horrific civil wars in West Africa. Lyrically, the extensive, uplifting "We Major" is a spiritual exhultation of generational and personal success. "Hey Mama" is West's dedication to his mother, Donda West. In the ballad, West recounts past hardships he and his mother suffered through together and expresses his love and devotion for her and appreciation for her tireless support, even when he was going directly against her expectations for him.
In addition, the album includes a series of humorous skits that involve West joining a fictional black fraternity, "Broke Phi Broke," whose members pride themselves in living a life without money or worldly possessions, despite the glaring disadvantages such a lifestyle brings. His character is eventually expelled from the fraternity after their leader discovers that not only has West been making beats for cash on the side but has also been breaking some of its rules, such as eating meals everyday, buying new clothes, and taking showers. According to music writer Mickey Hess, the skits serve to encapsulate, "a contradiction at the core of contemporary American life: the need to belong, to fit in, with your fellow humans versus the Darwinistic mad grab at material things, success in the latter being the very definition of success in our culture."
Release and promotion
West presented music audiences with the first taste of Late Registration on April 20, 2005 while appearing on New York radio station Hot 97, where he played his lead single "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." The album was originally set to be released on July 12, 2005, but was shifted to August 16 by Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam. It was pushed back once more to August 30 by West himself as he needed more time to complete the album. Late Registration was anticipated to become the biggest-selling record of the year and over 1.6 million copies were distributed to stores in preparation of its first week of release. On iTunes Store, the album become one of the most pre-ordered titles in the online digital media store's history. West filmed a live album featuring tracks from Late Registration and College Dropout, titled Late Orchestration which was released April 2006.
A television advertisement for Late Registration was directed and animated by Maggie Rogers, Abby Johnson and Paul Tuersley of Mr & Mrs Smith Design Ltd. It featured a gigantic version of West's teddy bear mascot Dropout Bear roaming through the streets of London. The advert received an award from British music magazine Music Week for Best Music TV Commercial. On the day of the album's release, West made an in-store appearance at New York's Lincoln Center Tower Records to autograph copies for fans. That same day, Late Registration was released in its entirety for online streaming on AOL Music.
The art direction and music packaging for Late Registration was done by Brooklyn graphic design studio Morning Breath, Inc. Similar to its predecessor, the album artwork of the second album carries an educational motif. Where The College Dropout was designed in a manner reminiscent of a high school yearbook, the images contained within the liner notes of Late Registration were taken in a university. West's vision for the style of the pictures was inspired by the works of American satirical painter John Currin, one of his favorite artists. The liner notes also contain a banner that reads Tardus Subcriptio, which is Latin for Late Registration. The album artwork centers around "Dropout Bear", West's anthropomorphic teddy bear mascot, who is dressed in a collegian outfit. Entering the university on the front cover, Dropout wanders its hallways, sits in empty lecture halls, and reads multiple library books before departing from the institution the same way he came in on the back cover.
Late Registration debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, grossing 860,000 copies in the United States in its first week alone, nearly double that of The College Dropout first week sales. The album also debuted at number one on the charts in Canada. In the United Kingdom, Late Registration debuted and peaked at number two on the charts for the issue date of September 5. The second effort maintained its chart-topping position on the Billboard 200 for two consecutive weeks, and by its second week, had already gone platinum, selling an additional 283,000 units to reach a cumulative total of 1.14 million. Selling 165,000 copies, the album dropped to number two the following week with the debut of Paul Wall's The Peoples Champ. The very next week, it yielded another slot to the position of three, selling 124,000 units, bringing its cumulative total to 1.4 million. The album managed to remain in the top five the following week, despite the multiple new releases from various other recording artists. It sold over 110,000 copies and slid down two places to the fifth slot on the charts. Late Registration finally fell out of the top five in its sixth week on the chart, where it sold 94,000 copies and fell one spot to number six. However, on October 19, the album climbed up one space and re-entered the top five, selling 83,000 units. On the issue date of October 26, the album fell five places to number ten, selling 78,000 copies for its eighth week on the charts. The album rebounded once again on November 2 when it sold 56,000 units rise two places to reach the eighth position. As of June 14, 2013, Late Registration has sold 3.1 million copies in the US.
|Los Angeles Times|||
Late Registration received rave reviews from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 85, which indicates "universal acclaim", based on 31 reviews. Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield deemed the album "an undeniable triumph, packed front to back, so expansive it makes the debut sound like a rough draft", while calling West "a real MC, earning the right to boast about opening a store for aspiring Kanye wanna-be's". Josh Tyrangiel of Time praised West's storytelling ability and appreciated his musicality, stating "one listen to 'Gone', built around an Otis Redding sample and some ecstatic string arrangements, and you might be persuaded that West is as good as he thinks he is." Alexis Petridis of The Guardian commended West's topicality and subversive studio production, stating "Late Registration suggests an artist effortlessly outstripping his peers: more ideas, better lyrics, bigger hooks, greater depth." Vibe commended West's "grandiose vision" and "expert ear", finding the album more thematically focused than its predecessor. The Observer called West "the Brian Wilson of hip-hop", and stated, "As with his debut, West plays up the struggle between conscience and covetousness, the pop mainstream and what can be achieved within the notional boundaries of hip hop ... [T]his album is another high benchmark for hip hop; West has every right to sing his own praises."
Los Angeles Times writer Robert Hilburn compared Kanye's dignified execution of pop crossover to that of The Beatles, Johnny Cash, and Bob Marley, while stating, "West packs each track in this joyful collection with elements that make you spend your first time through the album marveling at the sonic features alone." Simon Reynolds of Uncut called the album "mostly-brilliant" and stated, "Nobody deploys vocal samples better than West". Sean Fennessey of Pitchfork Media called it "sprawling ... the year's most accomplished rap album" and wrote that "in turn, he's done something that his heroes—the Pharcyde and Nas, and father figure Jay-Z—couldn't do: deliver on a promise the second time around. With the help of co-producer Jon Brion, West has taken his jumbled personae, buoyant enthusiasm, and vision for the grandiose, and transformed his chattering, seemingly unrealistic ideas into an expansive, imperfect masterpiece." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote that West is "as good as he thinks he is—a backpacker at heart who, like many brilliant nerds before him, has accrued precious metal by following his dream. He wants everybody to buy this record. So do I". As part of his consumer guide reviews, Christgau gave it an A+, indicating "a record of sustained beauty, power, insight, groove, and/or googlefritz that has invited and repaid repeated listenings in the daily life of someone with 500 other CDs to get to".
Jozen Cummings of PopMatters praised West's "complex creativity" and called it "the most musically ambitious hip-hop album since Outkast's Aquemini", but felt that "lyrically, Kanye is still a few credits short of graduating to the next level". Spin's Jon Caramanica viewed that the augmented versatility and eccentricity of West's flow still "pales in comparison to his sonic ambition." Jon Pareles of The New York Times surmised that his elevated status undermines the underdog quality that accentuated his debut album: "for much of Late Registration, the striver has turned into a hip-hop V.I.P., and a cool arrogance has crept into the songs". NME wrote that it lacks the "rubbish lyrics" and clumsy charm of his debut, but commended West for "freshening up his style without entirely abandoning it" and stated, "what makes this album so brilliant is the absurdly ace drums; this is pure cranium-crushing boom bap at its best ... West presents an epic soundtrack of swelling soul, grungy horn sections and borderline autistic aurals". Entertainment Weekly's David Browne stated "it rarely fails to engross at nearly every step... [it] taps into the same fusion of street life, quiet-storm R&B, and agile pop on which Quincy Jones made his name." Allmusic's Andy Kellman wrote that "[Jon] Brion string arrangements and brass flecks add a new dimension to West's beats without overshadowing them, and the results are neither too adventurous nor too conservative".
Late Registration topped numerous music critic polls and was called the best album of the year by numerous publications, including USA Today, Spin, and Time. Rolling Stone awarded the second effort the highest position on their end of the year record list and hailed it as a "sweepingly generous, absurdly virtuosic hip-hop classic." In the 2005 Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll of 795 pop critics, Late Registration finished at number one by a wide margin over any of the other album nominees. This was the second year in a row that West topped the nationwide critic poll, a feat that had occurred only one other time over twenty years ago by The Clash. Pitchfork Media cited Late Registration as the second best album of 2005, saying, "Co-producer Jon Brion lent West an expansively ecstatic lift that West had never had before, and West lent Brion a genially self-important strut that Brion had never had. Together, they crafted a cathedral of sonic details — a gorgeous, tangled, heartfelt strings-and-samples masterpiece." PopMatters listed Late Registration as the eighteenth best album of the year, writing, "His rhyming style is unique for how intuitive it seems. It might not be technically perfect, but it jibes perfectly with the lyrical diversity of his songs, the way he goes from boasting and joking to crying and reminiscing in a heartbeat. It's an album that dares to be stupid and smart, angry and silly, painful and joyous. The rhymes are further elevated by a layered, carefully crafted sound of melodic, atmospheric soul. Guest vocalists sing with yearning; strings and horns blend with samples of old soul and blues songs; MCs from disparate backgrounds make show-stopping appearances and disappear. Boundaries smoothly slide into each other, and everyday music is built."  Late Registration stands as West's second consecutive studio release to be rated XXL by XXL, the magazine's highest rank, which has been awarded to only sixteen other hip-hop albums.
At the 2006 Grammy Awards, Late Registration received a nomination for Album of the Year and won Best Rap Album. West's single "Gold Digger" was nominated for Record of the Year and received the award for Best Rap Solo Performance. He also won Best Rap Song for "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." At the 37th NAACP Image Awards, the second album received a nomination for Outstanding Album. Late Registration was nominated for Album of the Year at the third annual Vibe Awards, but lost to Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi. West received the awards for Top Rap Album for Late Registration as well as Hot Rap Track for "Gold Digger" at the 2006 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, where he also received nominations for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song. Late Registration was nominated for best International Album at the 2006 BRIT Awards. At the end of the 2000s decade, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 40 on its list of the 100 Best Albums of the Decade. Additionally, Rolling Stone named the album number 118 on its revised 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2012.
All lyrics written by Kanye West.
|1.||"Wake Up Mr. West (Intro)"||Kanye West||0:41|
|2.||"Heard 'Em Say" (featuring Adam Levine)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||3:23|
|3.||"Touch the Sky" (featuring Lupe Fiasco)||Just Blaze||3:57|
|4.||"Gold Digger" (featuring Jamie Foxx)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||3:28|
|6.||"Drive Slow" (featuring Paul Wall & GLC)||Kanye West||4:32|
|7.||"My Way Home" (featuring Common)||Kanye West||1:43|
|8.||"Crack Music" (featuring The Game)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||4:31|
|9.||"Roses"||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||4:05|
|10.||"Bring Me Down" (featuring Brandy)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||3:18|
|11.||"Addiction"||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||4:27|
|13.||"Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)" (featuring Jay-Z)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*, Devo Springsteen*||3:53|
|14.||"We Major" (featuring Nas & Really Doe)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*, Warryn Campbell*||7:28|
|16.||"Hey Mama"||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||5:05|
|17.||"Celebration"||Kanye West, Jon Brion*||3:18|
|19.||"Gone" (featuring Cam'ron & Consequence)||Kanye West||6:02|
|20.||"Diamonds from Sierra Leone" (bonus track)||Kanye West, Jon Brion*, Devo Springsteen*||3:58|
|21.||"Late" (hidden track)||Kanye West||3:50|
|21.||"We Can Make It Better" (featuring Common, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli & Rhymefest)||3:52|
|22.||"Late" (hidden track)||3:50|
|Japan and Australian Tour editions|
|22.||"Back to Basics" (featuring Common)||1:39|
|23.||"We Can Make It Better" (featuring Common, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli & Rhymefest)||3:52|
(*) designates co-producer
- "Wake Up Mr. West" and "Heard Em Say" both contain excerpts of "Someone That I Used to Love" as performed by Natalie Cole
- "Touch the Sky" contains samples of "Move On Up" as performed by Curtis Mayfield
- "Gold Digger" contains samples of "I Got a Woman" as performed by Ray Charles
- "Drive Slow" contains samples of "Wildflower" as performed by Hank Crawford
- "My Way Home" contains samples of "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" as performed by Gil Scott-Heron
- "Crack Music" contains samples of "Since You Came in My Life" as performed by New York Community Choir
- "Roses" contains samples of "Rosie" as performed by Bill Withers
- "Addiction" contains elements of "My Funny Valentine" as performed by Etta James
- "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" contains samples of "Diamonds Are Forever" as performed by Shirley Bassey
- "We Major" contains samples of "Action" as performed by Orange Krush
- "Hey Mama" contains samples of "Today Won't Come Again" as performed by Donal Leace
- "Celebration" contains samples of "Heavenly Dream" as performed by The KayGees
- "Gone" contains samples of "It's Too Late" as performed by Otis Redding
- "Late" contains samples of "I'll Erase Away Your Pain" by The Whatnauts
Information taken from Late Registration liner notes.
- Chart precession and succession
Most Wanted by Hilary Duff
|Canadian Albums Chart number-one album
September 17, 2005 – September 23, 2005
A Bigger Bang by The Rolling Stones
Most Wanted by Hilary Duff
|U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
September 17, 2005 – September 30, 2005
The Peoples Champ by Paul Wall
Harlem: Diary of a Summer by Jim Jones
|U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums number-one album
September 17, 2005 – September 30, 2005
The Peoples Champ by Paul Wall
Harlem: Diary of a Summer by Jim Jones
|U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums number-one album
September 17, 2005 – September 30, 2005
The Peoples Champ by Paul Wall
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Platinum||200,000^|
|Ireland (IRMA)||2× Platinum||30,000x|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||2× Platinum||30,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,200,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||3,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- Late Registration at Discogs (list of releases)
- Late Registration (Explicit) (Adobe Flash) at Myspace (streamed copy where licensed)