College Dropout - Kanye West

Kanye West. I have always thought I should check him out, although I have been familiar with his work as a producer and of course heard his rap work on the radio. I've also heard some of the outspoken/outlandish things he's said over time. Hey, if musicians can't be ridiculous, who can?

Anyway, I grabbed his debut rap album from 2004 when I saw it at the library. It is definitely not one to listen to with Avery. There is a lot of brilliant stuff in here, some solid gold lines like "Single black female addicted to retail". The song "Jesus Walks" is probably the standout in terms of having a complete theme and a real message of some kind:

I want to talk to God but I'm afraid because we ain't spoke in so long
To the hustlas, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks with them)
To the victims of Welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks with them)
We rappers are role models we rap we don't think
I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way yall need Jesus

Still, as with the MC Hammer album where the song that says "that's why we pray" is followed by "Soft and Wet" (yes I owned it, hey I was 14), it is humorous juxtaposition with the rest of the CD has some pretty dirty stuff.

The production is really great with some very good sounds, beats, and sample usage. There is stuff to dance to, to chill to, and to think to. There is also a great set of camios from people like Jay-Z and Talib Kweli.

But in the end, I am stuck with the feeling that poor Kanye feels sorry for himself. Read a bit of his bio, you find out he grew up middle class and pretty found success in music without the years and years of struggle many artists have. So all the bitching and moaning just doesn't cut it.

Also I am surprised to find such an anti-intellectual thread running through the album. The official thesis of the album is that college is a waste of time. For showing some real depth in some areas, Kanye, I am surprised you don't see the value of education.

So, as far as this album, take it or leave it.

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