Last night Kanye West officially previewed his new album, the excellent Graduation, to a lively, packed house at a midtown Manhattan movie theater across the street from his record label's offices. As usual, Kanye came close to overshadowing his own music: He talked to the crowd at length after the album played, asserting that Graduation is one of the "top ten" hip-hop albums ever and that he's one of the "top five MCs" of all time. When asked what it felt like to be onstage with Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Diddy and T.I. at New York's Screamfest concert last week, Kanye said "it would have felt better to hit the stage with me and Jay like we planned." He also fed the fire for his September 11th record-sales showdown with 50 Cent -- 50's Curtis comes out the same day as Graduation -- claiming that his presales were higher than 50's and that he "had to build it up for Rolling Stone." (Thanks, chief!) West also talked about how one of the new album's songs, the lovely "I Wonder," was inspired by the U2 track "City of Blinding Lights": After seeing Bono and crew perform "Lights" to rapturous crowds when he was opening for them, Kanye told himself, "I want one of those."
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