on February 25, 2004
When I first listened to the album I didnt recognize the true talent that Kanye West had. Speakerboxxx/Love Below was a great vacation from normal hip hop but Kanye West has managed to help to bring Hip Hop back into the music scene. His gift with old tracks and samples helps him to create instant hits. With perhaps maybe too many skits (about 4) in the album, the flow is slowed down (as we can instantly see that Kanye West is not a lover of College.
Rating of Songs:
Intro- Little Scene with Cedric the Entertainer, FUNNY, great start
We Don't Dare- Addictive Beat, nice background vocals. Solid Start tothe album 4/5 stars
All Falls Down- Destined to be a radio hit, great background vocals 5/5
I'll Fly Away- Short song with gospel influences 3/5
Jesus Walks- Good track, thought provoking lyrics 4/5
Never Let me Down- Jay-Z comes out to help his superstar producer, result is solid hit also 5/5
Get em High - One of the less themed songs of the album; catchy though 4/5
Workout Plan- EXTREMELY FUNNY! Great intro to "The New Workout Plan" 5/5
School Spirit- An ok track. Not one of my favorites but still enjoyable 3.5/5
The New Workout Plan- I HOPE he makes this one a video. Destined to be remembered 5/5
Spaceship- The BEST SONG ON THE ALBUM. My favorite with smooth beats, interesting lyrics and just extremely done well 10/5!!!!
Family Business- A softer side of Kanye 4/5
Definitely cop this CD, never a waste of money
on March 22, 2004
When I first saw the name Kanye West it was when I realized that he was the one that produced Beanie Sigel's "The Truth", which was a song from Beanie Sigel's solo CD. I would see Kanye West's name once again on Jay Z's "Dynasty: Roc La Familia" CD. Kanye produced a nice collaboration with Jay Z, Scarface and Beanie Sigel called "This Can't Be Life". He used an old Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes song and all three rappers had nice verses on the song. Other well known Kanye produced beats are also "Get By" by Talib Kweli, "Takeover" by Jay Z and "Guess Who's Back" which is another collaboration with Jay Z, Scarface and Beanie Sigel. The first time I heard Kanye West rap was on "Champions" featuring Young Chris, Beanie Sigel, Cam'ron & Twista from the Paid In Full soundtrack. I wasn't sure if Kanye would release a CD but by the sounds of his debut CD, we definitely have a classic on our hands.
His first single, "Through The Wire" sampled the old Chaka Khan slow jam, "Through The Fire". Kanye detailed the near fatal car accident that he was in and he basically did the whole rap, "through the wire". "Slow Jamz" is an interesting collaboration between Kanye, Twista and Jamie Foxx. Twista clearly steals the show but Kanye produces the track and he also has a nice verse on the song as well. His current single, "All Falls Down" samples a song from Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged CD. Lauryn wouldn't clear her vocals on the song so Kanye had Syleena Johnson sing the chorus. Kanye has a clever way of rapping. He likes to use metaphors, sometimes humorous, and you can tell that he is intelligent by the words that he says in some of his verses.
"Jesus Walks" is my favorite song on the CD. Kanye talks about God in a way that no other rapper has before and Kanye plays off of the fact that if he wasn't the person that he was that no one would even pay attention to what he is saying. He is sending a message saying that there is nothing wrong with pubicly diplaying your love for Jesus Christ. While the song may not be played in a club or on local radio stations, his message is loud and clear. Jay Z accompanies Kanye West on "Never Let Me Down". Jay has two "fire" verses inbetween Kanye and J Ivy. This song also serves a motivational song as the chorus goes: "When it comes to being true, atleast true to me, one thing I found, one thing I found is that you'll "Never Let Me Down". "Get 'Em High" features Talib Kweli and Common and definitely contains the best lyrics on the CD. We have an Erykah Badu less Common sounding like he did on "I Used To Love Her" and Talib at his best as well after Kanye raps to verses at the beginning of the track. Other stand out tracks include "Spaceship" where Kanye takes you back to almost an oppressive way of how people came up in the world, "We Don't Care" where Kanye has his own version of a kid's national anthem, "Two Words" featuring Mos Def and Freeway where it's nice just to hear Mos Def rapping and not see him in a movie or a play and the hilarious "New Workout Plan" where Kanye claims to have the remedy for all of the ladies' problems.
I also can't exclude "Family Business" and "Last Call". Kanye plays off of habits in alot of families today like the aunt you don't eat food from and many other things. On "Last Call" Kanye finishes "The College Dropout" right as he raps for about 5 minutes and he gives you a summary of how he came up in the producing and rapping game.
The only negative thing that I can say about this CD is that there are too many skits on "The College Dropout". However, the skits don't mess up the flow of the whole CD like on some rappers' CDs. Overall, you can't afford to miss what may be the best rap CD of 2004. Kanye West has clearly outdone himself on this CD.
James' Top 5
1) Jesus Walks
2) Get 'Em High w/Talib Kweli & Common
3) Never Let Me Down w/Jay Z & J Ivy
4) Slow Jamz w/Twista & Jamie Foxx
Tie 5) We Don't Care & Spaceship
on February 12, 2004
Kanye West's debut album is, in one word, refreshing. In a day and age where Nick Cannon and 50 Cent rule the radiowaves, Kanye West provides a smart, witty and touching album that enlightens the mind and soothes the soul.
Being a member of the Roc-a-fella camp, one would think that Kanye would be quick to jump aboard the bling band-wagon. While he devotes a song or two to his love of money, he also offers insight into other matters in his life (school, family, God, and his near-fatal car crash experience). On 'Last Call' (the album's twelve minute finale), Kanye talks to his audience, as opposed to MC'ing. Over a beautiful saxophone sample, Kanye describes his slow rise to fame, and the prices he paid to get there.
The album is intresting, with Kanye sampling Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross to name a few. His beats have an old-school feel to them, re-touched with a new school flavour. Kanye's MC'ing skills are not as dynamic as his production, but are strong nonetheless. His flow proves that he can ride a beat with words, and his lyrics show how introspective the man can be. On 'Jesus Walks', Kanye rhymes "I ain't here to argue about his facial features/or here to create atheists into believers/I'm just tryin' to say the way school needs teachers/the way Kathie-Lee needed Regis/that's the way I need Jesus".
Like all modern records, this album is not without a few flaws. There are an abundance of skits on the album, which leaves the listener craving for more Kanye. While they are thought-provoking and funny, they simply cannot compare to the quality of his music. The album starts out strong, but he stumbles on 'The New Workout Plan' and 'Breathe In, Breathe Out' featuring Ludacris. He recovers nicely.
"The College Dropout" is not revolutionary, nor will it change the face of hip-hop. It lacks the impact of Dr. Dre's 'The Chronic', or Nas' 'Illmatic'. Quite simply, "College Dropout" is a rare gem in a fabricated industry that promotes violence, money and sex. Kanye dares to be different, and treats all hip-hop fans (backpackers, mainstreamers alike) to a soul-filled, truthful, catchy album that will undoubtedly develop a cult following.
Though I don't listen to near as much rap music as I do other genres, I find this release to be very focused, different, and very refreshing! "The College Dropout" is very different from other rap albums and for me ranks up there with the likes of OutKast's double album "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below". Kanye's style of rap is different, and something about it makes it unique. As well as that, the production of this album is flawless! This album resembles (for me at least) albums of the past that showcased "hits" as opposed to 2 or 3 solid songs. Here's my rundown of the hits on this album: "We Don't Care", "All Falls Down" (it is ashamed Syleena Johnson is as underrated as she is), "Spaceship", "Jesus Walks", "School Spirit", "The New Workout Plan", and this is just to name a few. Furthermore, the interludes are not dumb and work well with this album. Kanye, I hope your next album is just as good, if not better (hopefully even better) than this masterpiece! 5 stars!
on May 8, 2004
I bought this cd thinking i would only like two songs (All falls down and slow jamz), but when i first listened to some of the other songs, they blew me away. He has awesome rhymes and creativity you wont find in 50 or eminem (not that i have anything against them). It isnt about violence and drugs, but has lyrics that have some thought in them. The way they did slow jamz is way better than the way they did it on the radio. I know if you buy this cd, you will find yourself listening to more than one song over and over again. For those parents who cant have all the dirty language, the cd edits it out perfectly and everything i have listened to so far has been clean. P.S.- Rock on, Kanye.
on September 11, 2004
For the last three years, rap and hip-hop quality has gone downhill (with few exceptions). Obviously, most of these artists are mostly in the industry for the money, causing the music to sound unoriginal and uninspired. Therefore, they became careless of the final result. However, in early 2004, Kanye West released his debut album "College Dropout". The timing was perfect. This gave the genre a breath of fresh air, proving that rap and hip-hop can still be outstanding. Many other artists have demanded his production on their tracks since this release: Alicia Keys, Brandy, Twista, and others.
Through his songwriting, rapping, and producing, he created the best rap album this year. This is one of the best debuts in rap history. His beats are always catchy and original. Occasionally, he combines his signature hip-hop beats with another genre: gospel, R&B, dance, and pop. Such variety gives this album the interesting swings. Despite the numerous sampling from other songs, he manages to make these tracks his own. Lyrically, he explores many issues that many modern-day rap artists wouldn't dare, especially religion ("Jesus Walks") and urgent issues that corrupt this world everyday ("We Don't Care"). His passionate powerful messages keep audiences listening closely. His words are obviously true to his heart as expressed beyond them whether he's raunchy or sweet.
"College Dropout" is a great rap album for those looking for a great escape from the common mainstream nonsense. This album proves that Kanye West will be a superstar for a long time.
***Expect Kanye West to lead the 2004 Grammy nominations with minimim nine: Album of the Year, Record of the Year ("Jesus Walks"), Best New Artist, Producer of the Year, Best Rap Album, Best Male Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and twice Best Rap/Sung Performance ("Slow Jamz" w/ Twists & Jamie Foxx and "Let's Talk About Love" w/Brandy).
on February 22, 2004
This is the best album since Talib Kweli's "Quality". Every song is unique and Kanye has his own signature style. "We Don't Care" kicks off the album beautifully, and from then, a classic unfolds. Violins played by the Israeli violinist Miri Ben Ari, the album has a lot of musical gener's combined and coverted to Hip Hop context. "All Falls Down" (Previously known as 'All Comes Down w/ Lauren Hill' to the mixtape fellas) is one of the albums many highlights. Then is my favorite track of the album "Spaceship" which is creative, original, and funny. "Jesus Walks" is a great track with a positive message about God. "Never Let Me Down" has 2 verses by Jay-Z, but for some reason, Kanye's verse is the best verse for me. The beat is fire, like all of the tracks, and there is a councious message in Kanye's verse, while Jay-Z does his usual bragging about himself (I still love Jigga). "Get Em High" features Talib Kweli and Common Sense. Now, Kanye spits ill, but Common's verse is probably the best verse I've heard in the last year. Amazing rhyme patterns and it seems as if he's dissing Lil Jon (Illerate Ni**a with a pimp cup), Talib's verse is funny. After that is another one of my favorites "The New Workout Plan" which has funny lyrics and one of the best muiscal arrangment I've ever heard in Hip Hop. Then comes the album's weakest track "Breath In Breath Out" featuring Ludacris on the hook. Most of the skits are funny. Then is "School Spirit" which has an ill beat and Kanye just rips this joint up! But for some reason this song was edited. "2 Words" has my man Mos Def and Freeway on it, it's just ban-anas! crazy. The beat, the lyrics, the hook, the quoire, the violines..."Through The Wire" is a great track about Kanye's nearly fatal car crash and how his mouth was wired shut. I'm sure al of you heard that joint by now. "Family Buisness" is fresh, original, creative, and everything that a Hip Hop song should have. The last track on the album is "Last Call" and Kanye rhymes all of his verse, and towards the end he says his story on how his musical career came alive. This song is like 15 minutes. Pretty dope. Overall, this album is one of the best albums I've ever heard. Definatly a classic record.
on December 5, 2004
Beware, this album is like smack. Once you listen to it, nothing else ever seems as worthwhile or satisfying by comparison. College Dropout rarely leaves my cd player and after a long day at work i break out in a sweat if i don't get home quickly to spend some quality time wit Kanye. Highlights of the album are difficult to pinpoint cos it is all so inspiringly, heart wrenchingly good and trying to pick a favourite would be like chosing between your children. The self proclaimed 'Rudolph the red nosed reindeer of the Roc' Kanye proves on this album he has what it takes to fill Jiggas enormous shoes. His production skills far surpass those of his superior and while Kanye's rhymes fall just short of Jays, his lilting rapping style is very listenable, so much so that you don't even mind all the god talk. Man, when i first heard 'Jesus Walks' i was almost converted. Kanye West is the future of hip hop. Jump on the bandwagon now and buy this record.
on February 14, 2005
Wrapping about God? No, it wasn't jumping on the bandwagon. Considering the early 2004 release, the album was written well before the Gibson movie, the election, and all the other tired subjects USING god to motivate a cause. Having almost died, I believe the lyrics from Kanye to be sincere. He's thankful for the life he got to continue. Religion is important to many people, as is Jesus, and if Kanye believes that Jesus Walks with him as well as the strippers and hustlers, then good.
"We don't Care" is an incredible song, wrapping about welfare, the fact that society writes off black youth (and is surprised when they make it past 25 years of age), talking about the drug dealer role models, etc. etc. And while I like Eminem, his albums are STILL focused on the same subject matter. MOSH is the only break from the usual on ENCORE.
I cannot listen to just one song on the College Dropout. Whenever I push play, I listen the whole way through. Jazzy, introspective, energetic, different. I'm bored with gang war songs, ho talk, and the like. Finally a Public Enemy-like social consciousness for the 21st century.