The Nostalgia Series, vol. 4: Revisiting The College Dropout by Kanye West

By: Alvindra |

Kanye West has been one of the most popular musicians this decade. Boasting a discography of eight solo albums, two collaboration projects, and one compilation album, along with 68 Grammy nominations and 21 Grammy wins, Kanye West has put himself among the greats in the music history books. Not only in music, he is also one of the most influential men in fashion world. His fashion line, Yeezy, is a massive success up until this day. However, the icon we know now was just an aspiring producer waiting for his time to shine. He started his music career by making beats for local Chicago rappers and some minor skits for the likes of Biggie and Nas. He finally struck gold when he produced for Jay Z’s “The Blueprint”. “The Blueprint” was considered one of the greatest rap album and Kanye productions is responsible for the feats. All eyes in Roc-A-Fella Records suddenly turned to him and The legend of Kanye West officially started 15 years ago, February 10, 2004 when he released “The College Dropout”.

“The College Dropout” features Kanye’s prominent soul sample based productions, which he maintained as his staple even until this very day. The formula for this album is simple, soul sample based rap joints with intelligent lyrics, with some on point featured artists and interesting skits in between. In The College Dropout, Kanye mostly talks about his upbringings, which includes many social issues he and his community faced daily. This will be maintained by Kanye in his later albums. Verses like “We buy our way out of jail, but we can’t buy freedom / We’ll buy a lot of clothes, but we don’t really need ’em / Things we buy to cover up what’s inside / Cause they made us hate ourself and love they wealth” on “All Falls Down” cover topics like criminal justice system and mass consumerism plaguing in his community while tracks like “The New Workout Plan” displayed Kanye’s intelligent lyricism where he slams the objectification of women in a snarky and sarcastic way. Tracks like “Graduation Day”, “Never Let Me Down”, and “Through The Wire” saw Kanye rapping about his life story, which includes him dropping out of college, living with his grandparents, and his involvement in a car crash that caused him recording “Through The Wire” with his jaw shut. One of the most important song in the album besides “Through The Wire” is the Grammy Best Rap Song-winning “Jesus Walks” which talks about his religious views and relationship with God. The album utilizes samples of popular songs such as “Real N*****” by Notorious B.I.G. in “All Falls Down”, “Distant Lover” by Marvin Gaye in “Spaceship”, “A House Is Not Home” by Luther Vandross in “Slow Jam”, and Chaka Khan’s “Through The Fire” in “Through The Wire”. Those classic tracks are chopped and processed beautifully to produce exceptional soul evoking beats that are still considered classics until this day.

Pointing which Kanye album is his best is very hard, but The College Dropout has to be one of the most influential projects he ever did. The utilization of soul samples saw resurgence after Kanye dropped The College Dropout. The story he told in each song in the album makes it easier for us to understand the artist and person he is today. His ability to deliver his message on top of his beautiful production is second to none, and as a result The College Dropout is one of the albums you have to listen to. Notable songs includes, but not limited to; “All Falls Down”, “Spaceship”, “Jesus Walks”, “Never Let Me Down”, “Slow Jamz”, “Through The Wire”, and “Last Call”. The College Dropout is very recommended for everyone, really, as his thought provoking lyrics and marvellous sonics are interesting enough to give anyone reasons to genre-bend. Even if you hate Kanye West, just give The College Dropout a try and thank me later.

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