So here’s the start to a new weekly series, brought to you by the fine folks of Middleclasswhitenoise. Every Tuesday, one of the writers will write an in-depth review of an old album by any artist in any genre. The point of ‘Take It Back Tuesdays’ is to provide you all with “old” music that we all love. Song by song reviews provides a deeper look into the depths of an album. Hopefully, we can make this work. That said, I present to you the first post of this venture:
Kanye West – College Dropout
Kanye West this. Kanye West that. I know, we write a lot about him on this website. All three of us have a different, but strong opinion of the man and his music. The first time I heard of Kanye West was not from Beanie Sigel’s The Truth album. It was not that he produced a good portion of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint. As much as I hate MTV now, I have to thank them for providing me my first look at Kanye West. A video for the song titled ‘Through the Wire’ was shown and I was immediately amazed. The song came from this first album College Dropout. As much as I love all of Kanye’s discography, this album is his best. Easy.
1) Intro: This was the first listen to a story in the medium of skits that lasted until Late Registration. RIP Bernie Mac.
2) We Don’t Care: Everything about this song from Kanye’s verses to the chorus are great, simply describing the pains and hardship of an African American in the United States. “We wasn’t supposed to make it past 25, jokes on you we still alive, throw your hands up in the sky, and say we don’t care what people say”. It makes you laugh but at the same time, damn. If that’s really the way Kanye feels, I don’t even know what is wrong with this world.
3) Graduation Day: A continuation of the skit story. The professor basically ridicules Kanye for his stance and how he’s not taking advantage of the opportunity he gave to ‘Ye. Leads into one of Kanye’s greatest songs of all time.
4) All Falls Down: Lyrics are on point. Beat is on point. Message is on point. Nothing wrong with this song at all. There are so many lines I would like to quote from this song, but the one I love the most is, “The prettiest people do the ugliest things, for the road to riches and diamond rings.” Another Kanye song that addresses the state of African Americans in this country; sad that Ye has to talk about this, but it’s the way the man feels and true.
5) I’ll Fly Away: I am not a Christian, but I do believe this is a church hymn. That said, I love it. Gospel music is a type of music I’ve always wanted to give a real listen to, but the closest I’ll ever get to it is this song. Oh well.
6) Spaceship: The previous track leads perfectly into this, as the chorus is, “I’ve been workin’ this graveshift, and I aint made shit, I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly”. Kanye describes about his struggle and how his work ethic deserves more recognition. During the time Kanye made this album, he wasn’t really receiving the attention as a rapper, but more for his producing. This song also previews a fellow G.O.O.D. Music rapper and long time friend of Kanye, GLC. He can rap, to say the least.
7) Jesus Walks: Ah, this song. Definitely the one that put Kanye on the map. I mean, the song is about Jesus and it’s a banger. Along with the help of fellow emcee Rhymefest, Kanye creates a masterpiece. Kanye shows of his lyrical ability with lines like, “Well let this take away from my spins, Which will probably take away from my ends, then I hope this take away from my sins, and bring the day that I’m dreaming about, next time I’m in the club everybody screaming out”.
8 ) Never Let Me Down: This song is one of my personal favorites from this album. Kanye brings along his “big brother” Jay-Z and poet J-Ivy to make a great song. The chorus is what I really love about this song. The beat is so raw, classic Kanye sampling. The song is just so soulful and even when I’m talking to class listening to this song, I find myself close to just breaking out and rapping it.
9) Get ‘Em High: Kanye goes away a little from the conscious side and creates a track where two other conscious rappers just straight up show off their lyrical ability. Two of Kanye’s inspirations, Talib Kweli & Common, make this song just another hit on this album. Anybody who’s heard this song will tell you that the transition from Kanye to Talib is classic. Just listen.
10) Workout Plan: A skit leading into one of Kanye’s funniest songs.
11) The New Workout Plan: Think the song is funny? The video is even better. The concept of video girls pops up a couple times in Kanye’s career, but it started here. Beat is uptempo and great. Just watch the video .
12) Slow Jamz: This song was originally on Twista’s Kamikaze. This song is so soulful. I can’t lie, I agree with the girl Jamie Foxx is talking about: Why can’t we listen to slow jams at parties? This song is the way to start. I personally am a fan of Motown so I’m all for this song. I don’t know many people who disagree.
13) Breathe In Breathe Out: Whenever I listen to this song, I usually wish Ludacris actually had a verse on it. This song is a great way to define the term “College Dropout Kanye”. If you listen to the mixtape Freshmen Adjustment, you can understand and hear Kanye’s raw sound.
14) School Spirit Skit 1: This skit describes Kanye’s feeling as to why he dropped out of college and corporate life. “You know what college does for you, it makes you really smart man!”
15) School Spirit: One of the best beats on this album. Kanye once again describes how he was finished with college and decided to do what he wanted to in life. I applaud his decision because he’s doing pretty well now, right? The song is censored because Aretha Franklin would not let him sample it unless he did so. Song still works though.
16) School Spirit Skit 2: The mockery of going to college forever and not doing anything continues. As a college student myself, I feel like I should be mad at him. I’m even majoring in something that puts me in the corporate world. Whatever, _____.
17) Lil Jimmy Skit: Continuation of the past two skits, mockery of Jimmy’s dad who never attained his dream. Leads into another classic song from this album.
18) Two Words: As folks say these days, all three rappers on this song go HAM. Mos Def shows up and tears up this beat. The way Kanye and Mos rhyme on this is classic. Pronunciation of words in this song is what really makes it awesome. If I ever taught a class about hip hop, this would be a song I would use. Oh yeah, another Roc-A-Fella mate, Freeway, is on this song.
19) Through the Wire: My favorite Kanye song of all time. Story telling genius. Beat and sample are perfect. The first look most of the world had of Kanye and boy was it amazing. Kanye made this song two weeks after his infamous car accident. Pure inspiration. Just an amazing song.
20) Family Business: I know at some point this was Sam’s favorite Kanye song and understandably. Kanye describes his how important his family is to him. One of Kanye’s most touching songs and a perspective of him we only realize when the world realized his relationship with his mother.
21) Last Call: This song may be 12 minutes or so, but most of it is Kanye describing his pre-signing with the Roc. The story leading up to him being singed is really interesting. As a hip hop head like myself, I eat this stuff up.
Wow. I really do love this album. Call me a d*** rider or whatever, but I do not feel this way about every album I listen to. Top to bottom this album is money. It is worth buying in my opinion (something I haven’t even done, but will soon). It was only recently that I decided this was my favorite Ye album. Hopefully you go out and listen to this album and love it as much as I do.