To mark the 10th anniversary of his debut album, Kanye West tweeted that making “The College Dropout” “was a long road, a constant struggle and a true labor of love.” Reflecting on the album a decade later, it”s clear that West”s determination to be a star – and on his own terms – gave us a new voice in hip-hop.
West started out producing hits for other artists, including four songs on Jay Z”s “The Blueprint,” but had trouble selling himself as a rapper. While writing “The College Dropout,” he had a record deal fall through with Capitol and nearly died in a car accident.
The setbacks only fueled his fire, laying the foundation for the audacious, unapologetic “Yeezus” persona we see today. But before he called himself God, West examined his late twenties with startling self-awareness, avoiding the gimmicks of then-mainstream street rap and tackling personal and political themes.
“The College Dropout” was released 10 years ago this week, on Feb. 10, 2004; here are 10 ways it helped shape hip-hop.