Kanye West | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Now that he's called President Bush a racist on live national television and dropped a Top 40 single that references the decimating impact of first-world greed on the third world ("Diamonds From Sierra Leone"), it's easy to see why people are pegging Kanye West as hip-hop's new conscience. But on his newest, Late Registration, there's not a hint of abject certainty, grandstanding, or proselytizing. West speaks from an awkward place, like he's going through puberty as he grows from awareness to actualization, and addresses it head-on: "I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless / 'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless," he raps, later adding, "On a polar rugby it look so nice / How could somethin' so wrong make me feel so right, right?" As many critics have pointed out, Late Registration fits like a puzzle piece alongside Common's Be (which West produced), as both albums seek a sense of resolve: Common squaring off with what it means to be a man, Kanye with what it means to be an American consumer. And since West is now a brand name himself, his questions are all the more interesting. Fantasia and Keyshia Cole open. Mon 11/14, 7:30 PM, UIC Pavilion, 1150 W. Harrison, 312-413-5740 or 312-559-1212, $49.50. All ages.

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