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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

KANYE WEST - COLLEGE DROPOUT 

Album: College Dropout
Artist: Kanye West
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Hey you, have you heard of hip hop or listened to the radio in the last few months? If so, then you've heard all about Kanye West and I have very little to tell you. Still reading? Good for you, that was a test, of course I have loads of genius things for that ass.

Kanye West is a paradox. He's an enigma wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a Triple 5 Soul blazer, with an R.O.C. chain wrapped around it. Many people have already used his "benz and a backpack" line to describe what he's all about and I guess I just did as well. Kanye is trying to create a bridge between the money making flossy floss rap Jay-Z and his R.O.C. brethren have been preaching for years, and the positive everyman styles of people like Common and Talib Kweli (Both of whom appear on Get 'Em High, where Kanye name drops Talib to try and pick up a chick - which would be Talib's most unlikely appearance if he hadn't done a collabo with the legendary DJ Quik on his last album). Done wrong, this could have been a cheesy, un-enjoyable concept (i.e. Soundbombing III), but it works here. Kanye embraces his two conflicting personalities. He professes his Mad Max like need for Jesus on Jesus Walks, but then we find him apologizing to Mos Def and Talib for rapping about gold again on Breathe In Breathe Out. Kanye puts his main man Jay-Z on a track with Def Poetry Jam spitter J. Ivey. He employs Miri Ben-Ari's "hip hop violin" work on The New Workout Plan. In short, he takes some chances for a cat that landed on Jay-Z's record label and had enough buzz to guarantee him sales no matter what kind of album he dropped. Some of the chances pay off, some don't. But credit's given here for trying them.

So here's the bottom line, this is a good album. As you can imagine from his current status as the "it" producer, the production on this album is solid. Kanye has a very soul-based sound which is consistent throughout the album, and he doesn't overuse his trademark sped up soul samples. Kanye doesn't have the best flow, and I doubt he's winning Scribble Jam 04, but that's almost of little consequence here. Kanye's a charismatic and funny guy who covers very different ground than most emcee's these days. Whether he's discussing the car crash that almost killed him (Through The Wire), or the self-consciousness that drives him to buy those iced out watches (All Falls Down), you're left wanting more Kanye like you were Chris Walken and he was cowbell. If you like the hip hop, or want to represent the cool music, buy this album.

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