Kanye West can be an asshole at times. We all know that. His legend, however, is permanently etched in Hip-Hop. 2004 ranks as a noteworthy time in my near 24 year existence on Earth. I graduated from high school and matriculated to college a week later. Things were changing fast and at that time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of life. I wasn’t even sure college was the right move. With so many things running through my head, I turned to music for solace, answers and retreat. The College Dropout provided this and is an album I can honestly say changed my life.
Recently, Entertainment Weekly named Kanye’s introductory confessional as the “album of the decade.” They weren’t too far off. In its entirety, College Dropout served as the soundtrack for the greater majority of Hip-Hop listeners. We’ve never sold dope. We’ve never shot or killed anybody. And most of us have dreams and ambitions beyond reality’s constraints. Regardless of who you ask, everyone can pinpoint one lyric, one verse or one song that seemingly defined them to the tee. He penned the hopes, dreams, fears and pet peeves of an entire generation and turned it into timeless music.
“Cause ain’t no tuition for having no ambition/And ain’t no loans for sittin’ yo ass at home…” Lines similar to this described mindstates long before we had Facebook or Twitter statuses to share with the world. For me personally, I’ve always referred to it as a type “hip-hop gospel.” Not in a “holy” sense, but it was damn sure spiritual. On this album, we got THE Kanye West. What I mean by this is, we could connect to damn near everything he spoke upon. We’re all self conscious, admittedly or not. At some point, we’ve all hated our jobs. And the love for our respective families burn deep, even with drama.
For every (great) album after this, we were hearing the words of a man who was becoming a bigger superstar with each hit record. As fans, we can’t blame him for it either. Life changes and people do too. Experiences mold you into the person you are and the person you’re to become. Hell, I’m not even at the same point I was five years ago, so expecting his music to is completely asinine.
“But I’m a champion/So I turn tragedy to triumph/Make music that’s fire/Spit my soul through the wire…” If first impressions last a lifetime, then maybe, just maybe, this dropout deserves to graduate at the top of the class.