Rapper/producer Kanye West's second album, LATE REGISTRATION, incredibly lives up to expectations following his universally acclaimed debut, THE COLLEGE DROPOUT, which took the art of sampling to a new plateau. Here, for example, "Gold Digger" features a sample of the legendary Ray Charles alongside actor Jamie Foxx in Oscar-reprising character as Charles. "Addiction" pairs a frenetic African beat with a stuttering, singular use of a snippet of Etta James crooning "My Funny Valentine," while "Diamonds From the Sierra Leone" teams the majestic Bond glory of Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds Are Forever" with perfectly subtle Miami bass to explosive effect. All the while, West pulls lyrics out of his rhyme bag at a fever pitch, tackling hefty topics like civil war in Africa and the impact of drugs on leading Black minds. Throughout the album, West merely continues to perfect his craft, slowing tracks down and speeding them up into an awe-inspiring mosaic. While his MC style is often discounted as being of secondary importance, he shines when put up against the best in the game, as with Common on the bluesy "My Way Home" or Nas on the lush "We Major." And in the spirit of Bob Dylan, West knows how to make the most of a very original voice. LATE REGISTRATION is ample proof of West's staying power.