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College Dropout

The College Dropout

4.5 37
by Kanye West

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Kanye West's cohesive debut, The College Dropout, proves that some of the best hip-hop is rooted in the reality of everyday struggle and not gangsta gunplay fantasy. West, the Chi-town producer-cum-rapper who's crafted hits for Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and fellow Windy City vet Twista, centers his disc on a familiar rags-to-riches motif, but like


Kanye West's cohesive debut, The College Dropout, proves that some of the best hip-hop is rooted in the reality of everyday struggle and not gangsta gunplay fantasy. West, the Chi-town producer-cum-rapper who's crafted hits for Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and fellow Windy City vet Twista, centers his disc on a familiar rags-to-riches motif, but like Will Smith before him, he adds his own black middle-class sensibility to it. West thumbs his nose at the old teachers who doubted him ("We Don't Care"), recalls smoking weed while on break at the Gap ("Spaceship/Slaveship"), and pokes fun at all the college-educated flunkies who didn't follow their dreams ("School Spirit"). His flow may not be as polished as Jay-Z's, but West has just as much zeal, honesty, and wit. On "Through the Wire," the radio smash featuring one of his trademark sped-up soul samples -- this time of Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" -- the charismatic rapper chronicles his ascent up the hip-hop A-list after a near-fatal car crash. Yet what makes that single and the entire disc so dazzling isn't just West's clever storytelling but his soulful, full-bodied production. Amid the strident bass shuffle of the inspirational "Jesus Walks" he adds a gospel tinge by employing the Harlem Boys Choir, and throughout the disc, he underscores the dramatic sweep and emotional edge to his raps by incorporating the work of violinist Miri Ben-Ari, who fiddles hip-hop beats. The College Dropout is a must-hear lesson in turning personal triumph into banging hip-hop with universal appeal. West may not have that degree, but The College Dropout makes him the leader of hip-hop's new school.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Andy Kellman
Producer Kanye West's highlight reels were stacking up exponentially when his solo debut for Roc-a-Fella was released, after numerous delays and a handful of suspense-building underground mixes. The week The College Dropout came out, three singles featuring his handiwork were in the Top 20, including his own "Through the Wire." A daring way to introduce himself to the masses as an MC, the enterprising West recorded the song during his recovery from a car wreck that nearly took his life -- while his jaw was wired shut. Heartbreaking and hysterical ("There's been an accident like Geico/They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael"), and wrapped around the helium chirp of the pitched-up chorus from Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire," the song and accompanying video couldn't have forged his dual status as underdog and champion any better. All of this momentum keeps rolling through The College Dropout, an album that's nearly as phenomenal as the boastful West has led everyone to believe. From a production standpoint, nothing here tops recent conquests like Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" or Talib Kweli's "Get By," but he's consistently potent and tempers his familiar characteristics -- high-pitched soul samples, gospel elements -- by tweaking them and not using them as a crutch. Even though those with their ears to the street knew West could excel as an MC, he has used this album as an opportunity to prove his less-known skills to a wider audience. One of the most poignant moments is on "All Falls Down," where the self-effacing West examines self-consciousness in the context of his community: "Rollies and Pashas done drive me crazy/I can't even pronounce nothing, yo pass the Versacey/Then I spent 400 bucks on this just to be like 'N*gga you ain't up on this'." If the notion that the album runs much deeper than the singles isn't enough, there's something of a surprising bonus: rather puzzlingly, a slightly adjusted mix of "Slow Jamz" -- a side-splitting ode to legends of baby-making soul that originally appeared on Twista's Kamikaze, just before that MC received his own Roc-a-Fella chain -- also appears. Prior to this album, we were more than aware that West's stature as a producer was undeniable; now we know that he's also a remarkably versatile lyricist and a valuable MC.
Rolling Stone - Jon Caramanica
1/2 His ace in the hole is his signature cozy sound -- dusty soul samples, gospel hymns, drums that pop as if hit for the very first time.
Entertainment Weekly - Michael Endelman
West delivers the goods with a disarming mix of confessional honesty and sarcastic humor, earnest idealism and big-pimping materialism. [A-]

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kanye West   Primary Artist
Tracie Spencer   Background Vocals
Boys Choir of Harlem   Vocals
Tony Williams   Vocals
Consequence   Vocals
Bosko   Talk Box
Keith Slattery   Keyboards
Terrence "T-Berry" Hardy   Children's Voices
Beverly A. McCargo   Vocals
Miri Ben-Ari   Violin
Eric Johnson   Guitar
Josh Zandman   Piano
Ken Lewis   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Keyboards,Vocals,Sampling
Aisha Tyler   Vocals
Diamond Alabi Isama   Children's Voices
Thomassina Atkins   Vocals
Candis Brown   Vocals
Tarey Torae   Vocals
Tiera Singleton   Vocals
Kevin Shannon   Vocals
James "JT" Knight   Children's Voices
Brandi Kuykenvall   Vocals
Lavel Mena   Vocals
John Legend   Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
GLC   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Burt Bacharach   Composer
Marcus Fuller   Engineer
B. Miller   Composer
Cynthia Weil   Composer
Cam Wilson   Composer
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Andrew Dawson   Engineer
Lauryn Hill   Composer
Keith Slattery   Engineer
Damon Dash   Executive Producer
Shawn Carter   Executive Producer
A. Franklin   Composer
Miri Ben-Ari   Arranger,Producer
Carlisle Young   Engineer
Kanye West   Composer,Producer,Executive Producer
Anthony Kilhoffer   Engineer
Kareem "Biggs" Burke   Executive Producer
L.D. Harris   Composer
C.C. Mitchell   Composer
Evidence   Producer
Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua   Executive Producer
Darcell Lawrence   Financial Director
Tatsuya Sato   Engineer
Tom Keane   Composer
Dave Dar   Engineer
R. Wilson   Composer
Rich Balmer   Engineer
Tim Morris   Art Direction
Ken Lewis   Instrumentation
Eugene Toale   Engineer
Jacob Andrew   Engineer
Michael Eleopoulos   Engineer
Lauri Rowe   Art Direction
Mike Godshall   Art Direction
Francis Graham   Engineer
Brent Kolatalo   Engineer
Bobby Naugle   Logo Design
Eric Duvauchelle   Art Direction
Mos Def   Composer
Jason Rauhoff   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The College Dropout 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
DontHollaMyName More than 1 year ago
KNOW!!! Man, this album is both classic and timeless... When I first popped this CD in my player, I listened non stop from beginning to end, even through the great skits (R.I.P Berni Mac).... The production, content, and creativity behind this album was immaculate and will certainly go down in my top 5 albums of all time... Thankfully Kanye has not failed to deliver on his 2 follow up albums... Classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
When first listening to this album, I was quite surprised at the great production. But then I noticed that Kanye had "ripped" some samples from Dr. Dre's 1992 album, The Chronic. Moreover, I think this is a fairly descent East Coast style Hip-Hop album with great grooves from Kanye's slick production. This album has been overrated by a large margin. It seems like every Hip-Hop fan automatically puts a new crave on some new Rap artist like Kanye. Kanye, you can say is just like 50 Cent from early 2003. I'd like to see West Coast Rap dominate again and even bring back the East/West coast rivalry from the mid-90's. Kanye West is a very talented rapper with a great career ahead. I only wish this album could have had more G-Funk style to have a change in sound; other than the bland pop-rap feel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kanye has the realest CD of the year so far. As for the beats on the CD, the guy is amazing mixing music from everywhere to make a great hip-hop sound. One of my favorite CD's of all-time. Get this and listen to "Jesus Walks" and "Never Let Me Down".
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now I have 2 rap cds, the first being the chronic with Dre and Snoop. I got intrigued from a Chicago Tribune review. I was hooked from the the first track. The yin/yang between wild sex and sincere god rap, plus the blue collar/hooked on credit ethos make this a cd you want to hear again and again. Sure there's some chaff, but there's also some righteous wheat from top to bottom. Even if you don't like the genre, it's time to open up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fantastic!! LYRICS, BEATS, FLOW- I just love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its a fun cd! You can dance to it and you can relate to it. This cd really shows who Kanye West is. It seems like he put alot into this album. It orignal contray to popular delief. Buy it.You can dance at a party with or just have a good time listening to it. He has many featured artists. Not a cd that you should listen to with children.Kanye West is Kanye West, and this is very evident in these songs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The College Dropout combines Kanye's hip hop beats with soulful lyrics to create a unique sound that I can't get enough of. Its an album that I can relate to because he talks about real issues, not just thug life. I have always been a fan of hip hop and have been searching for songs the flow and have meaning. I've had the album since it came out and it is still in my car, all the songs are stuck in my head and it really does not bother me. Even if you don't like rap, give this CD a chance, its different in the best of ways.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before this cd, I never really liked rap. Now that Ive listened to it, its opened me up to so much more, along with entertaining me with the best album of the year. Great collaborations on this cd, and endless great songs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
every song on this cd is great. not only our his beats good, his lyrcis our actually inspirational. Jesus Walks anyone? Dont buy other messed up rap. Kanye Wesy defines rap.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't expect too much of this album, but in fact it is exceptional. The beats are sick and the rhymes complement the beats perfectly. The features of Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, etc add to the album as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ha, I act like my opinion really counts, but to me, this is really album of the year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kanye West, one of the best producers in the world brings his beats to his new album college dropout and to me it is sick......got it on bootleg.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most innovative rap albums in along time. Kayne created a album that is amazing from start to finish (except all the skits). It's a welcome relief from all the one hit wonder rappers,that rely heavily on their production,that currently dominate the airwaves. Not only can Kayne produce great tracks but his rapping abilities and rhymes are solid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Backpack rap meets mainstream hiphop....Incredible album and could be heard from track 1 till the end. Original, smooth, and headbopping too. Anyone hating on Kanye is probably broke anyway. West could be cocky at times but damn..... "Can we Live?"..... 5 mikes, shoulda been signed twice!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the boy is holding it down! The album is relatively short, filled with hillarious skits. Very heavily sampled beats (as is Kanye's style)and heavy bass keeps the cd spinning. Nothing too new about the lyrics but he represents a new combination of undergroung and mainstream...only thing is barely any cussing. I don't know if he hates it, but he blanks his bad words out on the PA album. Still it adds to the effect. To hear the beats for yourself, check out the best one: School Spirit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kanye West is picking up right where Jay left off holding it down for Rocafella...this is a must get-NO BOOTLEGS, let the man eat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this was one of the best albulms I have ever heard, I like how he can take his experience in the everyday struggle and make it a great song. This album is a must hear. If you love great music you will love this album, my favoirte songon the album was "all falls down", because it is a song about a young lady who is in college an dhas no idea why she's there but won't dropout, to impress her family. Then in the same song he says how he is so selfconcious, and how he is a witness of the everyday struggle. Another one of my favorite songs is "the workout plan", I like this song because it make fun of people who try and get ith a superstar for his money. It also says how if ther gonna do that they should at least look good doing it.These ar some reasons why you should go get this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ma i from the chi and he is reprsenting to the fullest. I mean all the beat's are hot and the lyrics are bangin it one of the best yet so there's only one word that can describes his work "Perfect"
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful Histoy lesson from Baby Boomer who remember the 50's & 60's. When my children introduced me to this message I knew Mr. West had been properly EDUCATED !!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kanye West’s, College Dropout, is a hip- hop sensation!! Wonderful beats, great recording, causing me to re-play songs over and over again. His great messages sent out through the lyrics of his songs in this CD, make you think in many different ways. The other artists featured on College Dropout, are also just as moving as he is with his lyrics, such as Jay-Z, and Ludacris. The songs, “Family Business”, “I’ll fly away”, “Never Let Me Down” and “Breath in Breath out” (featuring Ludacris) are a few of my personal favorites. In this CD, West gives a new meaning to hip- hop, with his new beats and religious songs that no other artist can even attempt to compare to. If your looking for an actually touching, yet a good CD to play in your car or jam to, this is that CD. His songs are never ending with greatness, and even humorous skits that will have you laughing beyond the message he’s trying to put out there. GREAT CD!!! A must-have to add to you collection!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly anticipated this album!! Kanye is definately a breath of fresh air for hip-hop. His sometimes ironic, but witty verses are represent the struggle. The beats are tight and unexpected, I LOVE ALL FALLS DOWN, hes showing you dont have to get shout up a bunch of times, or ryhme about the hood to make it in the industry that is overstaurated with drugs and thugs....Please buy the album and BREATHE EASY--
Guest More than 1 year ago
The music is good, when there is music. Skits are OK, but a bit too long on this album. I was hoping to get something I could listen to cover to cover. There are a few awesome tracks, but I feel like I didnt get my money's worth.