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

Overview

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

Release Date:
02/24/2004
Label:
Roc-A-Fella
UPC:
0602498617410
catalogNumber:
000203001
Rank:
2689

Related Subjects

Tracks

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

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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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kanye West's debut LP is really nothing special. I recently saw an interview with him where he said he was taking things back to '93 and comparing his new album with classic Wu Tang and Tribe Called Quest. What a joke! How did he come up with that idea? Those acts were not making glossy pop songs with Twista and Jamie Foxx. File this under pop/r&b hip hop, not underground hip hop. I mean I got respect for this guys hard work and dedication, but there is much much better hip hop out there. Peace. Don't believe the hype!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I RESPECT HIS WORK AND HIM AS AN ARTIST. HE HAS AN EAR FOR MUSIC AND HE IS NOT TRYING TO BE A FOLLOWER.THE KID HAS THE AIR WAVES ON SMASH KEEP THEM DRUMS AND SAMPLES POPPIN,PRODUCERS RESPECT GOOD PRODUCERS WORK... PUEGUCCI
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
Absolutely fantastic!! LYRICS, BEATS, FLOW- I just love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
lol.. anyway.. i love this album! Finally somebody is making a difference! Keep doing your thing Kanye!
Guest More than 1 year ago
KANYE WEST IS ON HIS WAY TO BEING ONE OF THE GREATEST PRODUCERS THE MUSIC INDUSTRY HAS EVER SEEN HE DOES ONE TRACK ON A JAY-Z ALBUM AND EVERYBODY COMES AFTER HIS SERVICES FOR PRODUCTION ON THEIR ALBUMS THE MAN IS GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF PLATINUM PLAQUES ON HIS WALL BEFORE HIS CAREER IS OVER AND DONE WITH AND IF YOU DON'T HAVE THIS ABUM YET YOU GOT TO BE TRIPPIN GO PICK UP ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED OF THE YEAR
Guest More than 1 year ago
The newest edition to ROC-A-FELLA records, Kanye West's "The College Dropout" is one musical purchase you won't regret buying. This cd features the hit song "Through the Wire" (a remake of Chaka Khans "Through the Fire"). In the song, West talks about his near tragic car accident that required him to have reconstructive jaw surgery. His jaw was wired shut for six weeks. During this time, he forced himself to go to the studio and rap the lyrics to the song. His determination is evident when he states, "They can't stop me from rapping. I spit it through the wire, there's just too much stuff on my heart right now." Other hit songs include, "Slow Jamz" featuring actor Jamie Foxx and rapper Twista and "All Falls Down" featuring Sylenna Johnson. Kanye also exposes his religious side by talking about his need for Jesus, and social issues. Kanye definately feels that his near death experience is inspiration for him to educate youth. Dropping out during his first year of college, Kanye West definately shows that a college degree doesn't make or break your God-given talent. He does this by supplying humor, heart-stopping lyrics, and messages that will leave you thinking long after the song ends.
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
Ha, I act like my opinion really counts, but to me, this is really album of the year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The producing on the album is crazy. A CD with the instrumentals would even be good; his beats are crazy. He brings a style that we have not seen and his songs have good messages behind them. This is not your everyday album. In my opinion, the best of the ROC did his think. Every song is a hit. He shows that he can hold his own, and not only make hits for others, but make him for himself. Listen to the end of the last track where Kanye talks about his struggle in the game and how he finally made it. It's of the chain.
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
Finally someone has come to save Hip Hop from this crunk-filled music world we live in today. Super producer/rapper Kanye West tells stories of struggle, relationships with god, partying, education and enjoying life. West's College Dropout is one of the most complete Hip hop CD's in the last five years. His ability to mix and match samples from old dusty records with the newest sounds of keyboards and drum machines is incredible. However, West’s ability as a rapper shouldn't be pushed to the back burner. Kanye's lyrics may not please the typical commercial rap fan or club hopper but his lyrics are serious. West’s clever word play and metaphorical lines are placed strategically throughout this CD. I would suggest this CD to anyone who wants to hear what the rap game should sound like in the next few years. THANKS KANYE...I REALLY APPRECIATE WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO THE GAME. YOU'VE MADE IT SO I CAN RESPECT IT AGAIN.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow... This album has totally blown my mind!! Kanye West has proven to be the diamond in the rough with the best album of 2004. After hearing "Through The Wire" I truly believed he was going to flop like many other new MCs. But after sampling some of the tracks on the album I went out and copped it. College Dropout is well-organized and is devoid of any "crunk" filler. The guests Kanye rounded up for this album truly are a perfect match! For the first time ever, I believe Ludacris failed to enhance a track he's a guest on ("Breathe In Breathe Out") LOL. My fav tracks include "Jesus Walks", "Never Let Me Down", and "Get Em High." For any true hiphop fan, this a must purcase!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
THE COLLEGE DROPOUT WAS SERIOUS. NOW WE NOW SOMEBODY THATS A GOOD PRODUCER AND RAPPER. ANOTHER HIP-HOP CLASSIC
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
"The College Dropout" is a real hip-hop CD with the perfect production and songs to it. My favorite Kanye West songs are "We Don't Care", "Jesus Walks", "All Falls Down", "Slow Jamz", "Through The Wire", and "The Workout Plan".