The balance Kanye manages to strike up between being fun and commercial as well as culturally important is staggering, he becomes as much of a prophet as he does a superstar.
The College Dropout was Kanye West’s maiden voyage as a solo artist, but that doesn’t mean he was brand new to the game. He had become somewhat of an apprentice and beat maker for Jay-Z, the biggest name around at that time. His production work on the critically acclaimed ‘The Blueprint’ was enough to get Ye’s name around and after some slight creative differences, Kanye managed to release the album in February of 2004. This release came 16 months after a near fatal car accident involving West which had threatened to dash his dreams of being a rapper. As the fabled tale goes, however, Kanye staggered the world with ‘Through The Wire’; a single which contains verses from a wounded man in Kanye who raps the whole song with a wired up jaw. That was just the beginning of this marvellous adventure.
Beyond the singles this album is stacked full of radio-friendly bangers and conscious classics such as ‘We Don’t Care’ and ‘Never Let Me Down’ so in terms of general playback and enjoyment this album is phenomenal and can hardly be faulted. The balance Kanye manages to strike up between being fun and commercial as well as culturally important is staggering, he becomes as much of a prophet as he does a superstar. It all but confirmed that Ye wasn’t playing any games with his solo career and that he had so much more to give than just a mere production role in Jay Z’s team.
Kanye takes lots of instrumental risks on this project as he throws it back to old school jazz and funk vibes for his samples and manages to make them sound as fresh as ever, a feat which must not be underestimated and demonstrated the genius of Mr West as an artist and masterful producer. Kanye used his wordplay brilliantly as he intertwined the mood of the track with his instrumentals as well as his tone of voice. On ‘Jesus Walks’ he uses gospel choirs and a marching band reminiscent sound to show the unity of the Christian faith and how he believes in the powers of Jesus Christ. The theme of gospel hymn is a regular occurrence on The College Dropout but he uses satire and attitudes of dismay at the current state of the world and his culture on songs like ‘All Falls Down’ and ‘Spaceship’. The working world wasn’t prepared for Kanye’s angered view on materialistic attitudes.
10 Grammy Nominations later and this album made him a star, a bonafide treasure of the hip-hop scene and someone who appeared to have a long and prosperous future ahead (I think it’s safe to say he lived up to those claims). It is still West’s biggest selling album, shifting over 4 million worldwide copies and going platinum in a matter of months. Kanye West had well and truly arrived and he was exactly where he wanted to be. This album will truly go down in infamy and it was the beginning of his stratospheric legacy, many believe he hasn’t got better than this; although I do disagree you’d have to be foolish to write the album off as anything other than a timeless classic.