Creator: Hip Hop Keychain Shop (Etsy Shop Closed)

Price: $13.99

Material: Soft PVC

The first article to honor the second half of this blog’s namesake is going to discuss my favorite item in my humble collection: my Kanye West ‘Graduation Bear’ Keychain.

Some backstory: I am a huge Kanye West fan. I discovered him around the time everyone else did when Late Registration dropped in 2005. I was in middle school at the time, and I was slowly being introduced to hip hop after being raised on a steady KROQ-fueled diet of rock, punk and alternative. The first song I ever heard from the album was “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” while staying at some extended family’s home for a few weeks in the Summer, my cousin turning up the music video playing on MTV. (I’m really not as old as I’m making myself sound, I promise.)

After that I picked up on a few of his other hits from the album — the usual suspects like “Gold Digger”, “Touch The Sky”, etc. But I never got the chance to actually listen to Late Registration as a whole, or any of Kanye’s albums.

Kanye West – ‘Graduation’ (2007)

Until Graduation that is.

“Good Morning”. “Champion”. “I Wonder”. “Stronger” with freaking Daft Punk. (The shutter shades!) “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”. “Flashing Lights”. I could name more, but this was the transcendent Kanye album that pushed me to embrace hip-hop and rap. I was obsessed with Graduation, and it sparked a loyalty to Kanye that has remained steady today.

One day when browsing Etsy for some keychains to check out, I decided to try to look for something Kanye-related after realizing I didn’t own anything. Literally the only keychain I found was this beauty, from a small shop called ‘Hip Hop Keychain Shop’. I’m really sad to say the seller seems to have closed up shop, but I am forever grateful I had a chance to pick this keychain up. (Fun fact: The seller recognized my username from my time posting on KTT and we caught up. Definitely the most surreal moment on the internet I think I have ever experienced.)

The details are immaculate — the kaleidoscopic eyes are comprised of individually cut pieces, a small detail that really brings the piece to life.

Obviously, the keychain is inspired by the gorgeous Graduation album art from renowned artist Takashi Murakami (you can see a collection of his work on display at The Broad museum in Los Angeles, which I highly recommend).

It’s made of a soft PVC plastic that’s matte and plush to the touch. Although the material is a little delicate and is fraying around the ears, I feel PVC is a wonderful medium to bring the ‘Dropout Bear’ to life, capturing the soft curves and bright colors of Murakami’s animated interpretation of the character. The details are immaculate as well — the kaleidoscopic eyes are comprised of individually cut pieces, a small detail that really brings the piece to life. It’s one of the most meticulously-designed pieces I have yet to come across, making it far and away my favorite of all-time.

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August 25, 2017

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