I came in to today’s album with a lot of uncertainty. Kanye West is a polarizing and controversial artist, and one who isn’t easy to like from afar. That said, his career has been remarkably successful, so I knew there had to be more than meets the eye. His debut album, “The College Dropout”, is rated as the #74 album on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I have had a lot of hip-hop albums recently for comparison, and with that in mind, I have no reservations saying this absolutely one of my favorites.
Kanye toiled for a long time as producer, and was a big contributor to the success of Jay-Z, who appears on this album, but he struggled to find his breakthrough for a long time. This record proves that persistence pays off. As one would expect, the production quality is outstanding, and the hooks and accompanying tracks are very easy to embrace. As an MC, I also appreciate his talent and just find the music immensely listenable in all aspects.
I have several tracks I will call out as my favorites. The first song after the intro, “We Don’t Care” is a highly infectious lead-off. The militant and haunting “Jesus Walks” is as powerful as the title would suggest, and I really think it highlights the blended talent of Kanye as a producer and rapper. “Get Em High” is on the funkier side, and I can only imagine the bass thumping in clubs around America when this song came out. “Through The Wire” apparently has Alvin of the Chipmunks on backing vocals, but it is a quirky song that is a fun listen. This was the first single, and a song he had been pushing for some time. There are others I like better, but it is representative of his overall talent and the sound of this album.
I’m sure there will be more Kanye to embrace on this journey, and I now approach that with a much more positive outlook and attitude. Once again, this journey has forced the issue for me to give music a chance that I would have otherwise dismissed, and that is the best outcome I could have possibly hoped for.