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College Dropouts everywhere unite!,
By A Customer
This review is from: College Dropout (Audio CD)
He may be a new name to those of us sitting on rap’s periphery but Kanye West has been an influential player in the rap game since co-producing on Mase’s “Harlem World” project in 1997. Prior to his latest release “College Dropout”, Kanye West has had his feet placed firmly behind the production board, working with artist such as Beanie Siegal, Scarface, Talib Kweli and Jay-Z producing the hits “Izzo (H.O.V.A), “Girls Girls Girls”, “The Takeover” and “03 Bonnie & Clyde”. Most recently he worked his magic on Alicia Keys’ hit single “You Don’t Know My Name”.
Kayne West not only produces, writes and performs his own music and lyrics, but presents himself as a thoroughly well rounded artist with a purpose and musical vision all his own.
“College Dropout” is not a statement against the merits of education but more testimony to free-thinking and living life according to your own values and principals. The album is a literal manifestation of this dogma, challenging the typical rap album formula.
The album is lyrically and musically diverse, guest appearances span from Talib Kweli to Ludacris. What stands out the most is Kanye’s integrity, this is an honest offering but don’t think it’s content is heavy and cryptic, it is exactly the opposite: amusingly witty and direct, cementing his status as a modern day poet.
“School Spirit” which is likely to become every college drop out’s new anthem begins with “Told ‘em I finished school and I started my own business/ They said ‘oh you graduated?’ Naw I decided I was finished/ Chasing y’all dreams and what you got planned/ Now I spit so hot you got tanned”. Beware the associated skits are hilarious, well all the skits are amusing, my personal favourite being the “Workout Plan” skit. “When It All Falls Down”, a track cleverly based around an enduring Lauryn Hill “Unplugged” vocal loop, addresses materialism with self-deprecating humour and candour. “Jesus Walks”, has an authoritative military theme, which is infectious in its ability to move one’s head from side to side. In this track Kanye recounts his mother’s words “Only Jesus can save us”, concluding with “They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus/ That means guns, sex, lies and videotape/ But if I talk about God my record won’t get played/ Well if this takes away from my spins/ Which will probably take away from my ends/ Then I hope it takes away form my sins/ And bring the day that I’m dreamin’ about/ Next time I’m in the club everybody screamin’ out/ Jesus Walks”.
Elsewhere “Slow Jams”, featuring actor/comedian/singer Jamie Foxx and Twista, hilariously parodies quiet storm conventions without compromising its originality. Where else are you going to find lyrics like “She got a light skinned friend look like Michael Jackson/ Got a dark skinned friend look like Michael Jackson”.
“Two Words” features Mos Def, Freeway and the grand choral backing of the Harlem Boys Choir. The latter provides a majestic platform for a nearly entirely monosyllabic wordplay showcase. The guitar-driven “Breathe In Breathe Out” featuring the seventh wonder of the South, Ludacris, is a playful track containing no shortage of lyrical wit on Kanye's part: “Golly, more of that bullsh*t ice rap/ I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli? But is it cool to rap about gold if I tell the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali?/ First n*gga with a Benz and a backpack/ Ice chain Cardy lens and a knapsack/ I always said if I rapped I’d say something significant/ But now I’m rapping bout money, hoes and rims again.”
“Through The Wire” narrates Kanye’s near fatal car accident in Oct 2002, which left him with his life but a fractured his jaw. Inconceivably some weeks later, he literally spit through the wire when he recorded the track whilst his jaw was wired shut. This track is an evocative and personal account of the events that resonates with uncanny wit and raw emotion. West rhymes: “I must got a angel/ Cuz look like death missed his ass/ Unbreakable/ What you thought they call me Mr. Glass/ I look back on my life like the ghost of Christmas past/ Toys R Us where I used to spend that Christmas cash/ And I still won’t grow up/ I’m a grown ass kid/ So I should be like other stupid shit that I did/ But I’m a champion/ So I turned tragedy to triumph/ Make music that’s fire/ Spit my soul through the wires.” Very simply, the song marks the emergence of hip-hop’s most important new voice.
Many agree that this is the most anticipated hip-hop album of 2004, “College Dropout” is a creative, witty and innovative gem.