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Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
Graduation Music Poster Image
Insightful, fairly clean, and never ever boring.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 35 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Mostly thoughtful, self-revealing stuff about the challenges of becoming a man in a complex world, including some words of wisdom: "If you admire somebody you should go ahead and tell um/People never get the flowers while they could still smell um," "For me givin' up's way harder than tryin'," and "You graduate when you make it up outta the streets."


Some visceral lyrics about violence, mostly expressing an anti-violent message, as in "Just last year Chicago had over 600 caskets/Man, killin's some wack s--t."


More flirty and funny than explicit, especially on the punchline of "Drunk and Hot Girls" ("I thought I'd be with you for only one night/Now I'm with this girl for the rest of my life").


Fondness for the "F" and "S" words, but not nearly as tediously as on some other hip-hip CDs. The "N" word is used a few times.


Clothing and car brands are mentioned; CD package contains ads for ringtones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not the biggest deal here: The occasional quick reference to drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kanye West has done it again. Yes, there are the usual four-letter words here, but there's also some brilliant songwriting with subtle "stay in school" and "never give up" messages, and hip-hop that samples vintage Steely Dan (gotta be a first!).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byjsharpe October 24, 2009
stong langugaue
Parent of a 16 year old Written byredshai October 13, 2009

for tweens and older

i love the CD it tottaly rocks!!!
Kid, 10 years old July 20, 2013

Less Explict Than Other Rap Albums

Kanye West's album is less explict but it still including some cussing like the F-bomb, mother f---er, s--t, the N word and some minor cursing like d--n an... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 7, 2012


The average language that you hear in most rap, only used a lot less. Some good messages about staying in school but sometimes he isn't necessarily a good... Continue reading

What's the story?

Fine performances, exquisite production, and incredibly diverse musical influences make Kanye West's GRADUATION a standout CD. The inspired songwriting includes subtle "stay in school" and "never give up" messages. One song that shines, "Champion," uses a sample of Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" as a recurring theme in between lyrics about a dad sacrificing for his kids "like Will Smith and his son in the movie/I ain't talkin' 'bout the rich ones." Other high points are the single "Stronger," with Daft Punk and Edwin Birdsong, and an inspired collaboration with Chris Martin of Coldplay on "Homecoming."

Is it any good?

Applying imagination and witty intelligence to tracks that make strong but subtle use of guest performers (T-Pain, Lil' Wayne, Mos Def, Dwele, DJ Premire), this artist refuses to be limited by the conventions of his genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Kanye West doesn't have to rely on shock value to put out popular -- and talented -- albums. What takes the place of the racist and sexist lyrics found in so many other rap CDs? Families can also talk about the apparent obsession with school, whether it be dropping out or graduating. What do you think is the real story here? What does it take to see school through to graduation? Why is it important?

Music details

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