For an artist so vocal about his capabilities and ingenuity, Kanye West doesn't have the foggiest about visual art if his cover sleeves are anything to go by - an assessment fortified by Graduation's gaudy artwork. Luckily for the cocksure rapper, the inner contents of his third album are slightly less tacky, if just as ostentatious as their exterior; but would you expect anything less from a man who once said 'I don't know what's better - gettin' laid or gettin' paid'? Despite his grandiose declarations, West has proved that he's no one trick pony when it comes to innovation, and Graduation places the Chicago native at the frontline of the flurry of hip-hop trendsetters that have flooded the charts over the past five years. Though an admittedly impressive album, Graduation is far from the immediately likeable collection that West would deem it to be. Unlike The College Dropout's 'Through the Wire', or Late Registration's 'Gold Digger', there are no standout tracks as such here, and even Daft Punk-scrounging lead single Stronger seems like an unexciting, wasted opportunity, given the calibre of the sample. Still, tracks like the svelte, shuddering Champion, the dramatic, shoulder-twitching Barry Bonds, the sexy, synth-drenched standout Flashing Lights, and the chunky, soulful thump of The Glory are enough to ensure that you'll return for another listen, and the fact that West lays down samples of Can, Laura Nyro and Steely Dan side-by-side are evidence of his innate resourcefulness. There are undoubtedly some blips on Graduation; Chris Martin's ill-advised guest appearance on Homecoming, for one, the equation of paparazzi to the Nazis, for another; yet even though it may not be the trailblazing, emphatic creation that many already perceive it to be, Graduation is a reputable chapter in West's hip-hop scholarship.