‘College dropout’ makes grade with Top 10 singles

Jason Okamoto

Producer turned MC, Kanye West, has been referred to as the future of Hip-Hop.-Jay-Z called him a “genius.”- His popular single, “Through the Wire,” is being steadily played on radio and MTV alike.- The recent release of his first album, “The College Dropout,” could leave him open to criticism.- Perhaps, Hip Hop’s Emperor with New Clothes?

But after a couple of listens to “The College Dropout” it is clear that Kanye’s efforts appeal to the masses, as well as enthusiastic Hip-Hop connoisseur.

What’s most admirable about the record is that Kanye only spits what he knows.- Getting in a near fatal car accident (“Through the Wire”), working in fashion retail (“Spaceship”), and the death of his grandmother (“Family Business”).

At the same time he is not afraid to tackle topics such as materialism (“All Falls Down”) and contemporary attitudes toward religion (“Jesus Walks”).

The album’s strongest track is “Two Words”- an explosive track that features Mos Def and Freeway.-Mos Def’s verse just might be the best rap put on wax in the last five years.

The theme of the album being college, Kanye preaches to the youth about the positives, but mostly the negative aspects of college. It is clear from track to track that “I was shot nine times” is to 50 Cent as “I dropped out of College” is to Kanye West. Almost every song mentions his pass through the educational system on the way to fame and wealth as a Hip-Hop MC.- In the track “School Spirit,” Kanye boasts “Told ’em I finished school and started my own business they said, ‘oh you graduated’ naw, I decided I was finished.”

It sounds like the emphasis here are the negative repercussions of an institution, college that should not be taken for granted.- Kanye’s path did not require him to finish or even go to college.- Regardless, “College Dropout” just might be the right motivation for those who are in school to finish because the album celebrates handwork, entrepreneurship, and the knowledge of professional business.-

On top of this, Kanye is a Hip-Hop junky that lives for discovering untapped groove samples.- He is a lover of everything kosher about old-school Hip-Hop, but is not so pretentious, that he cannot rap about the pleasures of gold and girls.-

Late last year Kanye West’s album leaked onto the Internet. This version of the album was better as it was more aggressive and uncompromising. Unfortunately most of these songs were dropped before the release.-Appearances by Talib Kweli, Consequence, and Dirt McGirt (Old Dirty Bastard) especially stood out.-

Kanye’s first effort doesn’t show promise; it pronounces it.- Not only his beats, but also his words will be ringing in the ears of Hip-Hop heads and music lovers as long as he is still breathing.- But the fate of “College Dropout” is up to the future.- Kanye puts is best on the final track called “Last Call:” “Do fans want the feeling of A Tribe Called Quest/But all they got left is this guy called West.”- Whether we like it or not, he’s probably right.