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Kanye West The College Dropout Was Released 10 Years Ago Today.

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( You may speak and ponder what you will about Kanye West, but it’s unbearable to refute his cultural impact as a rapper, songwriter, and producer/beat maker in music period. Ten years ago today, Kanye West released his groundbreaking debut, The College Dropout,  to critical appraise and rap fans who appealed most to the Chicago rappers “pink Polo and backpack” swag.

Although many have now stated that Kanye West has gone away from his creative prowess and instead, striving for TMZ-esque celebrity, part of that reason is because his fans have wanted the rapper to return to his sped up sampled-beats, and honest rhyming. That, dear readers, is exactly what The College Dropout was about. Let’s swiftly take a look back 10 years ago, when Mr. West made one of the most daring and culturally significant rap albums in history.

Some music is the equivalent of fine wine; the more time eclipsed, thekanye-west-CollegeDropout-2014 more music listeners and consumers will realize the significance and quality of the record. For The College Dropout, though, the uniqueness of Kanye West’s songs instantly grabbed rap fans and critics. Here’s a rapper, who isn’t hardcore and doesn’t try to be, who’s production is innovative and trendsetting, and lyrics more concerned about getting his songs on the radio even though it’s about Jesus or about our self-esteem issues masked with buying Jordan’s and new name-brand clothing.

It was songs like” All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks” that made us latch on to Yeezy and realize he was bringing something special to Hip hop. It was songs like “We Don’t Care” and “School Spirit” that exhibited the faux-seriousness Kanye mastered over the course of the album.  On those songs, he routinely showed his frustrations of what America thought he and other African-American should do with their lives. It was songs like “Family Business” that made us understand and further comprehend that family comes first. Lastly, songs such as “Last Call” and “Slow Jamz,” showcased his unique lyrical and songwriting ability. The album flowed together sonically and was something new for hip hop heads to enjoy. The way hip hop heads up north give Cam’ron a pass, was the same way Kanye West was generally accepted to be who he was without consequence.

Of course, classic albums such as Late Registration and Graduation followed, but neither matched the hunger, drive, and importance that The College Dropout brought to rap music in 2004. That’s in no way to slight or discredit those albums nor 808’s& Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  My intent today is to honor and appreciate an album that turned a gifted producer into one of today biggest stars. The College Dropout was released when I was a sixth grader, and back then my music palette was strictly from the radio with oldies here and there.

At 22, I now fully understand his intentions with this album. And as stated in the beginning, you can say what you will about Kanye West now, but we can’t deny the influence his first album made in not only hip hop, but music generally.  Next year, I’ll cover and honor Late Registration, because that in its own right made Kanye West an even greater star. But until then, happy 10 years, The College Dropout.

Music Editor; Brad Washington
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