Kanye West still got the beats. His sophomore album, Late Registration, featured some of the finest samplings including the mesmerizing orchestration supported by Jon Barron on “Gone” (Cam’ron sounds dope on this track), the drunken bass lines on “Heard ‘Em Say” and the smooth jazz vibe on “Drive Slow.” From the lyrical standpoint, West isn’t so impressive (even though he throws quite a few humorous punch lines), and his breathy delivery is not helping either. “Hey Mama” is stunning from the production to the story, but not West’s singing, and it gets worse when he sings again on “Celebration,” which ruins the elegant arrangement. On the remix “Diamonds From Sierra Leone,” guest appearance Jay-Z delivers a brilliant thirty-two-bar verse. I have to give it to him for his clever wordplay: “I am not a businessman / I am a business, man.” It reads perfectly well on paper, but tough to pull off on the flow, and yet Jigga punctuates clearly without breaking a sweat. He is good. That’s why he’s the big boss, but West is not so bad himself. He has definitely stepped up from The College Dropout as a producer, creating more rich and soulful harmonies.