Review Summary: Kanye West's debut album appeals to the average young American kid with a lack of direction and insecurity about their own beliefs, dreams, and ambitions. Sounds like someone I know.
I just got home. It's five in the morning. Yes, it is a Thursday, a school day, and I'm out driving in my dad's Lincoln Town Car listening to The College Dropout by Kanye West. Why? Because I have nothing better to do. I don’t have to sleep because I’m out of school. I got kicked out of the school fellow Sputniker Bulldog goes to the day before last school year started, and dropped out of the large public school because I was a gnat amongst the tall beautiful people of Jenks High School. So now I either go to military school or work at Wal-Mart for the rest of my life.
“Cause aint no to tuition for havin no ambition
And aint no loans for sittin your ass at home
So we forced to sell crack rap and get a job
You gotta do something man your ass is grown”
Yup. I nodded my head the whole way through the first track of the album, “We Don’t Care”. Sarcastically playful and upbeat audibly, its lyrical content certainly is aimed at someone like me: a kid with dreams but no outlet. Kanye, unlike most rappers, actually had a normal upbringing. Middle class, living with a single mom who was well educated and Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University, and actually receiving A’s and B’s in high school, Kanye broke the mold of the traditional hood rat in the rap game. The album lyrically was a total change of pace for the industry. It was something that the average young American could relate to. Someone like me.
Sonically Kanye shows his excellent background in producing by varying his samplings from pop to rap to soul to jazz. The sound of each song fits its story. “Jesus Walks” is hymn like with its background vocals and powerful pulsating rhythm. “The New Workout Plan” literally sounds like what the title would indicate, almost as though he took the beat off of a 1980’s Richard Simmons workout tape.
And greater than anything is Kanye’s pure storytelling and relatability (interesting how that aspect of his career went down the tubes). From personal experiences to those of his peers, we not only get a sense of what Kanye’s upbringing was like, but the listener can reflect on their own life.
Out of all the hip hop albums I’ve listened to this is the only one that’s made me cry. Because I realize how absolutely destroyed every part of my livelihood is. What do I believe in anymore? Where do I go from here? I am the high school dropout. But not for long. I’m going to get a job, start working out again, and embrace going to military school. Heck, kids from there have gone to Harvard and Yale. Maybe then I can go back to my old school and pay the principal, Toby Clark, a visit. I’ll have a chorus of singing kids and a band. You know what we’ll be singing? “Jokes on you, I’m still alive, and doing pretty damn well.” I’m sure Mr. West would be proud.