Inspired by Irish rock band U2 and other musical groups to make more inspirational, anthemic hip-hop music, West incorporated synthesizer sounds into his production and dabbled with electronic music, while sampling a wider spectrum of musical genres. Lyrically, Graduation is more introspective in comparison to its predecessors, as West dedicated much of the album towards analyzing himself and conveying his ambivalent outlook on his newfound fame. It continues the education theme of West's previous two studio albums, The College Dropout (2004) and Late Registration (2005).
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 957,000 copies in its first week. It produced five singles, including international hits "Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Stronger" and "Good Life." The coinciding release dates of Graduation and rapper 50 Cent's Curtis generated much publicity over the idea of a sales competition, resulting in record-breaking sales performances by both albums. Graduation received mostly positive reviews from most music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The album has sold 2,700,000 copies in the US and has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.