Kanye West / The College Dropout

exclusive feature
Jon Jon Scott
The Liberator Magazine 3.2 #6, 2004

Chicago has long had a problem getting respect as a place where Hip-Hop is taken seriously. That’s over with now; new school production guru Kanye West not only puts it down for Chicago, but steps up to the mic and kills it with the most anticipated Hip-Hop album so far this new year and the record sales to match. West is mainly known as the man behind joints by Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Talib Kweli, Britney Spears and others. Taking it back to the times of Illmatic, when hip-hop represented an array of creativity, where Brand Nubian, Ice Cube, De la Soul, Del, Souls of Mischief, Slick Rick and Public Enemy all existed on the same playing field, Kanye West is a rare breed. He’s a bridge between the jigga factor hits and still rocks joints with lyrical wordsmiths like Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Common. Unlike most backpackers, Kanye kicks it with Rocafella’s Jay-Z, and Damon Dash then quotes comments from Okayplayer message boards. The College Dropout reintroduces comedy as a valuable asset. Everyone knows his hits ‘Slow Jamz’ w/ Twista and ‘Through the Wire’ but that’s just the beginning. The albums centerpiece is ‘Get ‘Em High’ featuring Talib Kweli and Common. Common snaps off on “Ignorant niggas with a pimp cup,” while Talib can’t believe how Kanye uses his name to get laid. Conceptually brilliant is ‘Two Words’ featuring Mos Def and Philly hardhead Freeway. Serious comedy meets conscious lyrical assault from one of rap’s most arrogant, confident, and versatile lyricists in the game.

Other highlights are "Slaveship," "All Falls Down" and "Never Let Me Down."

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