College Dropout

College Dropout

4.5 37
by Kanye West
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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 likeSee more details below

  • Checkmark Featured Vinyl LPs  Shop Now

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.

Read More

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-]

Read More

Product Details

Release Date:
02/24/2004
Label:
Roc-A-Fella
UPC:
0602498617410
catalogNumber:
000203001
Rank:
4397

Related Subjects

Tracks

Read More

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

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >