The College Dropout
Released: February 10, 2004
Charted: February 28, 2004
Peak: 2 US, 13 RB, 12 UK
Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.73 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 76:13
4.214 out of 5.00 (average of 37 ratings)
Quotable: “The smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” – Josh Tyrangiel & Alan Light, Time magazine
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
In 2003, the Chicago kid Kanye West was “the pink Polo-wearing son of an ex-Black Panther and a college English professor.” TL He’d “produced some hot beats for Jay-Z,” RS’20 becoming “the most sought-after hip-hop producer not named Pharrell.” DH However, he “wanted to be on the mic, not behind it.” RS’20 “Record labels were skeptical, but West got over on wit and determination” RS’20 and proved to be “a remarkably versatile lyricist and a valuable MC.” AMG College Dropout is as explosive, contradictory, and complex as rap music gets.” DH
“The week The College Dropout came out, three singles featuring his handiwork were in the Top 20, including his own” AMG “catchy Through the Wire…[in which] he spits some impeccable rhymes despite his jaw being wired shut after a near-fatal car accident.” DH “A daring way to introduce himself to the masses as an MC…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.” AMG The only downside is that the song is “placed so deep into the album that it’s almost anticlimactic.” AMG
Otherwise, the “momentum keeps rolling through The College Dropout” AMG as West “delivers the unthinkable: [he]magically sledgehammers home his opinions on taboo topics over beats that are equally daring. The envelope-ripping beats shouldn't come as a surprise given that he's supplied the soundscapes to monster singles by everyone from Alicia Keys (‘You Don't Know My Name’) to Talib Kweli (‘Get By’).” DH West is “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.” AMG
“The feel-good club tune of the year, Slow Jamz,” AMG is “about the seductive power of soul music.” RS’20 It is “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.” AMG
“One of the most poignant moments is on All Falls Down.” AMG “Maybe it was [his] brush with mortality that kicked his lyrics into high gear;” DH in any event, 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 ‘Nigga you ain’t up on this.’” AMG
Never Let Me Down “featured a tremendous guest verse from his mentor and record company president, Jay-Z.” TL That song, along with” TL “the gospel riot Jesus Walks” RS’20 “and ‘All Falls Down’ showed that West could infuse rap “with wit, intelligence and most of all, complexity.” TL
“In West’s world, rhymes about strippers, God, college life, and guns can co-exist tidily and not undermine each other.” DH He also “made arrogant claims about his talent, and then professed his insecurity — which made his music all the richer.” RS’20 “On Breathe in Breathe Out he raps ‘I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli / Is it cool to rap about gold if I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali’ – tongue firmly planted in cheek.” DH
“The skits on here are just as potent,” DH although there are “a few too many.” AMG One in particular pokes “fun at the overeducated underclass that makes a small fraction of the loot he does.” DH
In the end, West delivers “an album that’s nearly as phenomenal as the boastful West has led everyone to believe.” AMG “Even with extended skits and lots of filler, West’s debut stands as the smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” TL
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First posted 3/16/2010; last updated 4/21/2022.
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