Album Review | Kanye West – The College Dropout

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I was planning on doing a JAY-Z Marathon before I started Kanye’s, but I’m just gonna go hard on this one now so that I can be ready in time for the new album, which is coming out on February 11th. I’m probably not gonna finish in time, but it is what it is. The College Dropout came out on February 10th in 2004. I was five. It’s Kanye’s most successful album in terms of sales, and is pretty much considered a classic by everyone who knows what they’re talking about. The only full Kanye album that I’ve listened to all the way through is Yeezus (I know), so this should be pretty fun. I’ve heard all of the singles to the album, but there are still a lot of other songs that I haven’t heard. I’m obviously expecting this to be dope af. Every song is produced by Kanye West.

Track 1: Intro

Anyone who’s heard a lot of Kanye’s music is familiar with this character from the skits on on the first two albums. It’s performed by a comedian named Deray Davis who was trying to do his best Bernie Mac impersonation. This skit in particular is just him telling Kanye to do a special performance during the graduation ceremony. He wants something that the other students can sing along to. I’m not sure what this guy’s position at the college is… I’m just gonna assume that he’s an assistant principal or something. There’s not really anything else to be said about this skit. It does it’s job. I’m obviously not gonna rate it.

Track 2: We Don’t Care

Kanye’s singing on the hook right now. It’s not bad. The singing isn’t really that good or anything, but it’s sufficient. The melody’s cool. Alright he’s about to go in now. “If this is your first time hearin’ this / You are about to experience somethin’ so cold, man.” Nice. This beat is dope af. The production fits the theme of a graduation ceremony pretty well. It definitely sounds like something you would hear at some sort of celebration. Kanye’s first verse was dope. He’s basically making a song dedicated to drug dealers who do what they can just to survive in the hood. The children’s chorus that shows up for the second, third, & fourth recitals of the hook is a little off putting… I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s not really bad tho. It could definitely be worse. The second and third verses are dope. “You know the kids gon’ act a fool / When you stop the programs for after school / And they DCFS / Some of ’em dyslexic / They favorite 50 Cent song ‘12 Questions.” There’s not much to dislike about this song. The hook might not be for everybody tho. It’s pretty much the only thing that… Well… I didn’t think it was bad. I just didn’t like it as much as every other facet of the song. It was cool tho. I fuck with the song. It’s dope. 4/5

Track 3: Graduation Day (Skit)

Okay, so the Bernie Mac Assistant Principal Guy was clearly not happy about Kanye making the children sing about drugs and shit, so he’s not letting Kanye graduate. He’s goin’ off on him. “I’m tryin’ to get you out here with these white people and this how you’re gonna do me? You know what? You’s a nigga. And I don’t mean that in no nice way.” John Legend is singing on the outro. It sounds pretty good. It actually kinda sounds like it’s autotuned. I don’t know if it really is or not. I doubt it. It sounds like it tho. It’s not bad. I’m still not gonna rate this since it isn’t a real song.

Track 4: All Falls Down Feat. Syleena Johnson

All Falls Down

Okay here we go… I think this might be the first Kanye West song that I ever heard. I didn’t know who it was at the time. There are a lot of songs by Kanye West that I heard when I was really young, but I didn’t know who it was by. I didn’t really care about music at the time, so I was just like “this is rap music.” I didn’t care who made it or who the featured artist was. I definitely didn’t care who produced it. It was just more music. This is one of Kanye West’s most popular songs from this album. Obviously this hook from Syleena Johnson is legendary. It comes from a line that was on Lauryn Hill’s song, The Mystery Of Iniquity. She was technically the one who came up with it. Syleena Johnson just made a much catchier and fleshed out version of it. Sonically, this song is damn near flawless. The hook and beat are fantastic. Ye’s rappin’ about some chick who “has no idea what she’s doing in college.” Kanye was making music for the average, mildly rebellious teenager who didn’t wanna do what adults or people of authority told him to do. “I spent four hundred bucks on this / Just to be like ‘nigga, you ain’t up on this.” I love that line. This second verse is really dope. “We shine because they hate us / floss ’cause they degrade us / We trying to buy back our 40 acres / And for that paper, look how low we a stoop / Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe.” He’s doing a lot to point out how harmful material obsessions can be. That’s kind of ironic, considering his antics in recent years… It’s still a really great song tho. I definitely fuck with this song. This is dope af. The music video’s cool too. The animated parts look stupid af, but other than that it was entertaining. 5/5

Track 5: I’ll Fly Away

This is a gospel song. I’m not gonna rate this because it’s basically a skit. I don’t know who that is singing. It sounds real good tho. This just isn’t something I would ever listen to outside of this review. This track didn’t need to be here. It thankfully didn’t do anything to piss me off tho, so that’s cool.

Track 6: Spaceship Feat. GLC & Consequence

Spaceship.png

I remember Consequence. I mean, I don’t, but I remember his name. I always thought he had a cool stage name, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of his music. I think he’s supposed to be pretty good. I really don’t know who GLC is. Lemme look him up real quick. Oh he was another G.O.O.D. Music signee who’s faded into obscurity just like Consequence & Really Doe. Okay, the song’s starting now. Someone’s singing the hook. Lemme see… Apparently it’s some guy named Tony Williams, who also did the vocals on track 5. He did a great job here. Kanye’s goin’ in now. Haha. Wow. This is dope. He’s rapping about how much he hates his job. He works at the Gap, and his boss is a dick. “Look at my check; wasn’t no scratch / So if I stole wasn’t my fault / Yeah I stole; never got caught / They take me to the back and pat me / Askin’ me about some khakis / But let some black people walk in / I bet you they show off their token blackie / Oh now they love Kanye, ‘let’s put him all in the front of the store.” That verse was dope af. GLC’s goin’ in now. His flow was dope. The verse wasn’t as good as Ye’s, but he still did his thing. Consequence is on last verse. Huh. I just found out that Consequence is Q-Tip’s cousin. I didn’t know that. That’s cool. His verse was pretty good. Kanye still had the best verse tho. This song is dope af. I fuck with this shit. The music video’s pretty good. I don’t know how it could’ve been any better. Kanye being in an astronaut suit was slightly corny, and the effects looked pretty stupid, but other than that it was cool. The song’s great tho. 5/5

Track 7: Jesus Walks

Jesus Walks 1.jpg

This song is famous for being pretty much the only mainstream Hip Hop song with religion as the main focus. It’s one of Kanye West’s most popular songs. Just like the hook to All Falls Down, the beat to this song is legendary. I gotta be honest tho… I’m not in love with this hook… It’s not bad, but I could really do without it. I definitely fuck with the verses tho. I’m an atheist, so I don’t think this song hits me as hard as it does most people, but it’s still good sonically. Even when I was a Christian I didn’t really love this song like everyone else seemed to tho. It’s just a song about how he loves Jesus. Shit like that never really interests me. I don’t really give a fuck about religion. The energy and delivery of Ye’s verses is dope af tho. I fuck with the song. I just don’t think it’s incredible. “So here go my single dog; radio needs this / They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus / That means guns, sex, lies, videotape / But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?” That line always bothered me… “Videotape.” …What is he talking about here? Who raps about “videotape,” and why is it a bad thing? Somebody needs to explain that to me… I fuck with the song. I just think the hook could’ve been better. I’m not really a fan of those dramatic female vocals in the background either. The beat is fuckin’ crazy tho. This song is dope to me. Let me see this video… Eh. It was cool, but again, the religious themes don’t really do much for me. I feel like I would like this video a lot more if I was religious and/or liked the song more. The YouTube comments for it were pretty terrible tho. It was just a bunch of insane religious people talking about how Kanye sold his soul to the devil and joined the illuminati. Fucking ridiculous. I guess if you work in a church or something and you wanna make Jesus appealing to teenagers, this song would help a lot. Jesus is pretty much the opposite of cool tho. Hahaha. I’m just playin’. Kinda… 4/5

Track 8: Never Let Me Down Feat. JAY-Z & J. Ivy

Never Let Me Down

This is another song I’ve never heard. I’m not sure who J. Ivy is. Hopefully he’s dope. Wow. I’m honestly not feelin’ this hook. It’s not terrible, but the vocals sound whiny, the melody isn’t that good to me, and towards the end, the line “Get up, I get down” repeats six times and it just doesn’t sound right. JAY-Z’s on the first verse. I’ve never really liked JAY-Z that much. I don’t think he’s that bad, but I don’t see why he’s always mentioned as one of the greatest of all time. After his first album, most of his bars have been average to me. I don’t think he’s a bad rapper tho. Just not that good. Hopefully my mind will change when I do the JAY-Z Marathon. I’m not sure when that’ll be, but it doesn’t matter. His verse on here was cool I guess. Not anything special. I really can’t get behind this hook. The beat is dope af tho. Yeezy did his thing on the second verse. J. Ivy’s on the third verse. He’s not really rapping tho. He’s doin’ a Spoken Word poem over the beat. It was a dope verse, but I’d be more impressed if he was actually flowing on the beat. I don’t wanna hear a Spoken Word verse awkwardly layered over this kind of production. Oh. I thought that would’ve been the last verse, but Jay’s goin’ in again. That kinda sucks. I mean, I think J. Ivy’s verse would’ve fit better if it was just on the outro. It kinda ruins the momentum of the track for me. This last verse from Jay is way better than his first tho. It is to me at least. J. Ivy’s verse was the best lyrically, but other than that I wasn’t feelin’ it. This song’s alright I guess. I really liked the beat, and the verses from Jay & Ye were cool, but the hook and J. Ivy’s verse kinda ruined the track for me. 3/5

Track 9: Get ‘Em High Feat. Talib Kweli & Common

This is probably my most anticipated song from the album that I haven’t already heard for obvious reasons. Talib Kweli & Common are two dope MCs, so there’s not really any way for them to fuck this up unless the hook is wack. It’s starting now. This beat’s dope. The hook doesn’t suck. Thank God. Kanye’s goin’ in flow. Goddamn. He’s fuckin’ spittin’. His flow is dope af. He went the fuck in on the first verse. I didn’t expect to get a song like this from Kanye. It’s just a straightforward song full of bars with a simple structure. Talib Kweli & Common both went in. “I did this my way / So when the industry crash, I survive like Kanye.” That line from Common was dope af. There’s not a lot to say about this one. It’s just a great song with bars from three dope MCs. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 10: Workout Plan (Skit)

This is just a skit that sets the tone for the next track, The New Workout Plan. It’s just a bunch of girls talkin’ about how they’re excited for this new workout plan. I guess it does it’s job. There’s really no reason for me to try and discuss this track.

Track 11: The New Workout Plan

The New Workout Plan

This is literally a workout song. He’s rapping as the instructor, telling these women to do sit-ups and shit. I don’t know why anyone would wanna hear a song about some shit like this. The beat’s really fuckin’ dope tho. “It’s a party tonight and ooh she’s so excited / Tell me who’s invited: you, your friends and my dick.” I’m not really feelin’ this hook. I know this song isn’t really supposed to be taken seriously, and it’s cool that he was having fun with his music, but it’s not really something I would ever want to listen to. The only thing I really like about it is the beat. It’s wack to me. I’m not feelin’ this. 2/5

Track 12: Slow Jamz Feat. Twista & Jamie Foxx

This is probably my favorite single from this album. First of all, the beat is fucking incredible. Not to mention the hook from Jamie Foxx, which’ll be stuck in your head for days after you listen to this song. This sample that Kanye flipped sounds fucking great. Lyrically, the song is just about the old school R&B that they play during sex. Twista really steals the show on this song. Not that Ye didn’t spit a dope verse. “She got a light-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson / Got a dark-skinned friend look like Michael Jackson.” You really can’t bring this song up without mentioning that line from Kanye. Twista really blows him away with his flow and delivery tho. Huh. I didn’t know that the girl who told Kanye to “do it faster” during the interlude was Aisha Tyler. That’s interesting. Completely useless information, but still interesting. Twista fuckin’ killed this shit. He seriously Controlled this track. This song was about sex, but he didn’t come off as a complete asshole who doesn’t care about this girl at all thanks to the closing lines. “No matter how much of a thug you see, I still spit it like it’s R&B / Come to the club with me / And when some Luther come on I hope you feelin’ me / And still will be in love wit me.” The music video is average, but I definitely fuck with the song. There’s nothing to dislike about it. It’s dope af. 5/5

Track 13: Breathe In, Breathe Out Feat. Ludacris (Co-Prod. All Day)

This beat’s dope. Ludacris is on the hook. Kanye’s on the first verse. He’s rappin’ about how he wasted his money on material things. This is dope. The hook’s cool I guess. Not really anything special. I like that he made another song with a simple structure like this. It’s just a simple hook and some dope bars. Nobody’s tryin’ to sing or anything. Damn. Luda didn’t get a verse. He was only on the hook. Well, on the bright side, Kanye killed that last verse. Luda’s feature was kind of unnecessary, but that doesn’t really hurt the song. It’s still good. The beat’s dope, and Kanye went in. I fuck with this. This is dope. 4/5

Track 14: School Spirit (Skit 1)

The message of this skit is basically “a good education can’t get me any pussy.” That’s a pretty fair criticism of America’s education system if you ask me.

Track 15: School Spirit

Damn. This beat is dope af. I actually fuck with this hook too. What the hell… Why is this song censored? I got the explicit version. All the other songs are explicit… Oh. Wow. Apparently Aretha Franklin wouldn’t let Kanye use this sample unless he censored the song. That’s annoying. There are explicit version online tho, so I think I’m just gonna download it from YouTube. “Ima get on this TV, mama / Ima- Ima put shit down.” I didn’t know that that line was from this song. That’s kinda cool. Kinda… “Told ’em I finished school, and I started my own business / They say ‘Oh you graduated?‘ No, I decided I was finished.” I don’t think there’s anything that Kanye hated more than school at the time of this album’s composition. “This nigga graduated at the top of our class / I went to Cheesecake, he was a motherfucking waiter there.“mod de He shits on college in damn near every song. Basically, College is to 2004 Kanye West as Nike is to 2016 Kanye West. His flow on the second verse was great. I really like this song. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 16: School Spirit (Skit 2)

This is exactly what the title says it is. More of track 14.

Track 17: Lil Jimmy (Skit)

This is EVEN MORE of track 14. Kanye really doesn’t like school.

Track 18: Two Words Feat. Mos Def, Freeway & The Harlem Boys Choir

Okay, this should be good. I’m definitely lookin’ forward to that Mos Def feature. Goddamn. This fucking beat is incredible. Yasiin Bey’s on the first verse. That verse was dope. At first I was like “What the fuck is he doin’?” But then I realized that every thing he says in his verse is a phrase with two words. That results in a less interesting flow, but a more unique rhyme pattern. I fuck with his verse. It was a dope way to start the song off. This hook is dope af. The Harlem Boys Choir actually sounds really good. Kanye went in on the second verse. Freeway’s verse was dope. Damn. How have I never heard this song? This shit is dope af. The music video is great too. I really like this filter that they used. It makes everything look like it was recorded in the 50s. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 19: Through The Wire

Through The Wire

This was the first single Kanye ever released as the primary artist. For those of you who don’t know the story, Kanye was working late one night in 2002, producing records for multiple artists such as Beanie Sigel & The Black Eyed Peas. On his way home, he got cut off and collided with another vehicle. As a result, he got fucked up. His jaw was broken, so his doctors had to wire it shut. This song was originally recorded with his jaw still wired shut.

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I’m pretty sure the album version was recorded after it finished healing tho. Needless to say, this single was very successful. Okay, it’s starting now. “I drink a Boost for breakfast, an Ensure for dessert / Somebody ordered pancakes, I just sip the sizzurp.” It took me way longer than it should have to understand what he was talking about with these opening lines. This beat is legendary. It’s kinda crazy that a song like this became a hit single. There’s no hook or anything. It’s just two dope verses over a great beat. I guess people didn’t only care about catchy hooks back in 2004. What the hell? The word “shit” is censored in this song… Why? Apparently Chaka Khan wouldn’t let him use this sample if he used profanity. He gets away with ass tho. I guess it was only for really bad words like “fuck” & “shit.” I gotta commend Yeezy for not usin’ the N word in this song. It could be a result of Chaka Khan not wanting him to cuss too much, but I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he wasn’t obsessed with the N word like most other rappers. This song is definitely dope af. I fuck with this shit. The music video was cool too. 5/5

Track 20: Family Business

This beat’s dope af. It sounds kinda sad. Lyrically, this track is exactly what the title implies. He’s rapping about his family. It sounds like somebody in his family died or something. “Now that you’re gone it hit us / Super hard on Thankgiving and Christmas, this can’t be right.” This hook is cool. It’s not great, but it’s far from bad. This song is a little sappy, but I fuck with it. I kinda hate my family, so I can’t relate to this very much, but it’s still a dope song to me. I fuck with this. 4/5

Track 21: Last Call (Co-Prod. Evidence)

Oh, that’s cool that Evidence was involved with this album. I didn’t know he’d worked with Kanye before. Okay, the song’s starting now. Jesus Christ. The track is twelve minutes and forty one seconds long. This shit better be good… Damn. This beat is dope af. I love this sample they flipped. This hook is great. Kanye’s first verse was dope. This beat is really good. Damn. He’s really goin’ the fuck off on this second verse. He killed that shit. Okay, I’m over four minutes in. The song’s basically over. He’s just talkin’ about a bunch of random shit that has to do with him getting into Hip Hop. He talks for 8 more minutes until the track ends. For whatever reason, I didn’t really mind this. It was an eventful way to end the album. It was also kinda interesting to hear the stories and shit of how he first started working with JAY-Z and shit like that. I really really enjoyed this song. I definitely fuck with it. This song is dope af. 5/5

Final Thoughts:

Goddamn. I just did this whole review in one day. It usually takes me a lot longer to do reviews, especially when they’re this long. That album was dope. It didn’t quite make it to the “dope af” status, but this is a personal, subjective review. The production was obviously really good throughout the project. This album came out back when Kanye was really hungry, and was spittin’ his ass off. I still think he could spit like this if he really tried. I don’t think he fell off. I just don’t think he’s really interested in making music that much anymore. I could be wrong tho. We’ll see how SWISH turns out. I just hope to God that he changes the title soon… One thing that I didn’t really like about this album is… Well, it wasn’t really a huge problem. It didn’t even affect the rating at all. It’s the skits. I didn’t think they were horrible. I just think a lot of them were unnecessary. Like those School Spirit & Lil Jimmy Skits. That was ridiculous. I was like “Goddamn, Ye. We get it. School sucks.” Seriously, this album is so anti-education; it’s ridiculous. It really does seem like he got College confused with Nike. These days every fuckin’ time you hear about Kanye he’s goin’ off about his fucked up Nike deal. Kanye… I’m sorry, but ain’t nobody besides you give a fuck about no goddamn Nike deal. Maybe if you got back to making dope ass music instead of chargin’ motherfuckers hundreds of dollars for plain white T-shirts we’d care more about your personal problems. Nobody wants to hear that noise until you start makin’ shit like this again. Sorry. I got kinda side tracked… What was I talkin’ about? Oh yeah. The skits were just a little much. Also, this album is long as shit. The skits have a lot to do with that tho. You know, this album would’ve been dope af if it weren’t for one particular song. The New Workout Plan singlehandedly destroyed this albums chances of being classified as dope af. I know what you’re thinking. “Wait… OG Nick Marsh, how the fuck does one song prevent the whole album from being dope af?” I completely understand where you’re coming from. That shit really depends on the score tho. The “dope af” rating is saved for albums that get a score of 90 or higher. The New Workout Plan only got two out of five stars. He lost three damn points for that shit. It’s a flawed system, but that’s just how it is. I still fuck with this album tho. Even if I can’t personally call it dope af, you need to check this one out if you haven’t already. It’s one of the most important albums of the 2000s. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: Last Call

Least Favorite Song: The New Workout Plan

Verdict:

87%

HOTTTTT

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