Release Date: 02.10.04
Record label: Roc-A-Fella
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
A Landmark for 2004 Hip-Hop
by: nick evans
After producing a huge roster of artists such as Alicia Keys, Jay Z, and Talib Kweli, Kanye West has amassed enough tracks of his own to put out College Dropout, a 21 track collection of deep personality and old school soul.
As a lyricist, West is pretty much average. (Think about a flow similar to P. Diddy’s protégé-flop, Loon) But the impressive list of guests on the album (Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Twista) perfectly peppered into the many tracks and the sometimes intricate lyrics more than make up for it. This seems to be an album that’s half mainstream and “gangster” and half eclectic and political. It balances care-free raps and intense, philosophical tracks perfectly. “Jesus Walks” is a perfect example of the latter, showing his spiritual side. (“But if I talk about God my record wont get played/ Well if this take away from my spins… Then I hope it takes away from sins”) And “Never Let Me Down”, featuring Jay Z, is better than anything Mr. Carter did on the Black Album.
Titled College Dropout, and many of the skits on the album talk about his dropping out of college, and laugh at the concept of paying for education and getting degrees. I don’t really know why he has such feelings for a slightly unusual rap topic, but of course the money, cars, and girls make their usual appearances here as well. “The New Workout Plan” is stupid, shallow, and may just as well have been left out, but “Slow Jamz”, the megahit with Twista and Jamie Foxx follows as a welcome surprise. “Through the Wire”, featuring an old Chaka Khan sample is one of the more interesting tracks to break through on the charts so far this year. Plus it's always exciting to hear Common and Mos Def on any track, and they shine on their guest spots here.
Because this album was from a producer, one might expect him to use the best beats he’s created for his own album. But none of the beats on this album even come close to his masterpieces such as Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name” or Talib Kweli’s “Get By”. The album does shine much more than it falters, and for that reason it will be a landmark album for rap music in 2004.
In the liner notes, Kanye portrays himself as a reject or outcast from society. Considering how solid of an album he has on his hands, he will certainly be getting the last laugh. 27-Jun-2003 8:45 AM