Here at TYFNS we are starting something new; every so often we want to take a look back at a classic album from the past or maybe just a particular album from a impactful artist. We aren’t necessarily reviewing these albums, just discussing its little nuances and how music and that artist might have changed since that time. Today I thought it was fitting to start off with a big release.
It’s been 10 years since Ye dropped College Dropout and it still remains one of his most coveted works. The debut Kanye project immediately shot him to the top of the Hip-Hop world, and drew comparisons to Doggystyle, Illmatic, and Ready To Die as being one of the best debut albums ever.
Let's dive into the overall production and subject matter of this album. Mostly produced by Ye himself you hear a lot of soulful samples and funny but very real skits that used to be very typical of Kanye albums. You can tell that Kanye grew up in Chicago listening to his mother’s soul music collection, just as other children of the time probably did. This album features a lot of references to the most high himself as well. Kanye is no stranger to placing the Lord in his rhythms (for better or for worse), however this album had more of that “old church” feel to it. I can close my eyes and imagine being in church with my grandmother hearing “I’ll Fly Away” being sung. This record also portrayed Ye as a very devoted family man, and that doesn’t come out as much in his later works.
Diving more deep into subject matter you see Kanye was very different then most rappers of the time. Gangsta rap was very popular: we’re talking about a time when 50 was coming out, Ja Rule, Dipset, and many other street rappers were popping and here comes this guy. Kanye even discusses, on the album, a lot of the weird looks he got from people within the industry when stated he could rap because he wasn’t talking about drugs or wearing a throwback jersey. The album was still very street, but it told a different story. It wasn’t about the corner boy, but the guy that lived at the corner just trying to make it in the world. From taking odd jobs to support his dreams, being frustrated because he feels he’s not making progress, to wondering would he ever get a real shot; Kanye kind of reopened the door for the non-super thugged out, drug dealing type of artist to get back into Hip-Hop.
Typical of a Kanye album he had a lot of features but they all fit in perfectly, just as they do on nearly all Ye projects. You also get the early hints of Ye’s ego on the project; you can tell that Kanye loves Kanye. But it’s a different type of love here, its more “Kanye loves and believes in Kanye as you should yourself” other then what its perceived now as “Kanye loves Kanye because Kanye is the greatest thing since Hip-Hop was created and your nothing compared to him". Overall I can see why people say College Dropout is their favorite Ye work, or why they say “College Dropout Kanye is their favorite Kanye”. The music had purpose and was very relatable to all ages, you can still throw on College Dropout today and listen to it straight through, and everyone knows the words to the songs. Kanye had a clear message and purpose on that album, and while people might not have agreed with how he went about things, for the most part they understood where he was coming from. Not to say now he doesn’t have a message or purpose, he does, but maybe people just don’t understand it yet, or don’t connect to it. But like the times Kanye has changed and that’s neither good nor bad, he has grown and so has the music, portraying different messages each step of the way. College Dropout is a great album and it probably hit the Hip-Hop world just at the right time too.