Album: Late Registration

The first verse of "Crack Music" is Kanye at his most excellently socially conscious. The topic of choice? The oft-discussed effects of crack-cocaine on the black community in the Reagan era. 'Ye manages to get across his message, that the popularity of rap, for better or worse, is a result of the crack epidemic, without coming off as preachy—or boring. The metaphors are clever, poignant, and just complicated enough for the many types of people that make up his fan base. "Conscious rap" often falls on deaf ears—sometime you don't want to be hit over the head with sociological theories or politics. But then, of course, mainstream rap is often criticized for being empty-headed. But the two terms needs not be mutually exclusive. Kanye is Kanye because he's able to bridge the gap without sacrificing much in either respect. In "Crack Music," he does it spectacularly. Max Goldberg