"Graduation" Turns 16: Revisit The Old Kanye West On "Can't Tell Me Nothing"

Ye finally got his money right – sort of.

BYHayley Hynes

A lot has changed for Kanye West in the past 16 years. Still, his third studio album, Graduation, has remained an indisputable classic amongst hip-hop heads. The years since 2007 have seen the multi-talent marry and divorce Kim Kardashian, who he shares four young children with. He's also been cancelled more times than we can count but somehow manages to (mostly) make his way back into the public's good graces each time. Through all the ups and downs, the Yeezy founder's carefree attitude has remained the same, as reflected on "Can't Tell Me Nothing."

The track was selected to preview Graduation as a single. As Genius notes, it earned a sleeper reputation after being outshone by the LP's most popular title, "Stronger." Though he was a much younger man at the time, Ye's confidence is evident in both his lyrics and delivery. He's previously stated that "Can't Tell Me Nothing" remains a favourite in his discography, and we can clearly see why.

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"Can't Tell Me Nothing" is a Graduation Standout

"I had a dream I could buy my way to Heaven / When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace," The Life of Pablo artist begins. Over production by himself and DJ Toomp, West continues to reflect on the comments he hears from his haters, as well as the struggles that come with a life of fame and fortune. No one else actually rhymes on the single, but Jeezy's adlibs do bring a certain something to the throwback hit.

Revisit the visual for Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing" above, or find the full album to stream on Spotify/Apple Music. Which Graduation track is your all-time favourite? Let us know in the comments, and find more HNHH release recommendations on our Fire Emoji playlist at the link below.

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Quotable Lyrics:

To whom much is given, much is tested
Get arrested, guess until he get the message
I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny
And what I do? Act more stupidly


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About The Author
Hayley Hynes is the Weekend Managing Editor of HotNewHipHop, and has been since 2021. She began writing for the website that same year, primarily covering content in the Music, Pop Culture, and Streetwear niches after graduating from Vancouver’s Blanche Macdonald Centre with a Fashion Marketing Diploma. She previously reported on Travel, Entertainment, Beauty, and News at Narcity Canada for over three years. Hayley has also contributed articles and interviews within these realms to Folklr Magazine and the Calgary Journal while studying Journalism at Mount Royal University. In her spare time, she freelances for Bandbox Vinyl, having already interviewed hip-hop icons like Atmosphere and explored Syd’s discography. Hayley also uses her expansive pop culture knowledge and passion for astrology/self-enhancement to help others explore their curiosity in an ongoing Instagram video series. Among her favourite hip-hop artists are A$AP Rocky, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, and Mac Miller.