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

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 38 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

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
Adult Written byCool jerkerama December 29, 2018
This album is one of Kanye’s best album. When it comes to swears their are not that many but that is the only problem in this album. Overall this album is amazi... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlexandre M. February 20, 2018
Bro Kanye you boss
Kid, 11 years old September 19, 2009
The song "Stronger" has the most offensive language: "f*ck" is used once, "sh**" is used four times, and there is one use each of... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byspeedblazer99 April 27, 2021

wait another year

Kanye remixed "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson for Thriller 25th anniversary edition and that song is just the original with ad libs drum samples and... 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

  • Artist: Kanye West
  • Release date: September 11, 2007
  • Label: Roc-A-Fella
  • Genre: Hip-hop
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: July 24, 2015

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate