Black Music Month: Kanye West - The College Dropout

"Even if you in a benz, you still a nigga in a coupe"

College Dropout is the first major release for Kanye West. It's also one of the first time that many people heard an artist speak extensively about the black experience. The album is named College Dropout because Kanye West did in fact drop out of college. However it still perfectly displays some of the issues facing black college students specifically. Not just because of the college related skits like Lil Jimmy's striving for degrees or the shout out to various Greek Organizations in "School Spirit." Everything from the cover to the lyrical content of the album speaks to the day to day life of your average black college student.

Production is obviously the strong point of the album. By this time in his career Kanye had already made a name for himself as one of the best producers around. The samples are exceptionally clean. There is no flaw in any beat and tracks are sprinkled with vocals from people like John Legend and Tony Williams that mean absolutely nothing to the album but provide the necessary pomp to display the flashiness of almost every university in the country.

 Dame Dash is on the album saying "If his raps is wack at least we can throw Cam on every song and save the album." Lyrically Kanye isn't the best at this point and he will rhyme bar after bar with the same word if he can't think of anything else. Every guest on the album bodied Kanye on a track. However tracks like "All Falls Down," show glances of him becoming the "lyrical tyrant," Nas would describe him as a decade later.

The album was recorded and produced over a five year period. Kanye uses a variety of different flows throughout that can be seen as the evolution of him as a rapper. In addition to the different flows there's the delivery of said flows changes. The flows from "Family Business," and "School Spirit," are virtually the same but the energy is gone and the comedic bars are gone by the time he reaches "Family Business," on the album.

One of the things Kanye touches on with the album is the idea of maintaining our blackness. We're often seen as the token or "the good one" by our peers and it takes a toll. Meanwhile when we go back to the hood, there's people questioning our blackness. This is a common phenomenon and the reason that almost every black person you meet in a professional setting is a master of code switching. We don't do it just because it's a way for us to maintain our "street cred" while maneuvering through the corporate world which is something Kanye touched on later in his career.

Kanye also touches on the idea of "One of us makes it, we all make it," that families sometimes take. You may want to leave school and follow your dreams but at the same time you don't want to let your family down. This eventually begins to weigh on you and take it's toll. However family is one of the few places you can find a place to relax and unwind as well as vent your problems. Some choose not to go to family but church to deal with their issues.

Feel free to follow along with our Black Music Month Series

You can hear Darrell on the CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. He also plays classic arcade games on The Cabinet
Black Music Month: Kanye West - The College Dropout Black Music Month: Kanye West - The College Dropout Reviewed by Darrell S. on Tuesday, June 02, 2015 Rating: 5


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