Students reflect on Kanye West’s first album and his lost relatability

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Cooper Young

Kanye West’s The College Dropout pictured among school supplies.

Cooper Young, Writer

With Kanye West recently named as one of the richest black men in America, students are recalling his first album, The College Dropout, and reflecting on how he’s lost his relatability in his modern works. 

“While highly overlooked in exchange for his more modern music, Ye’s first album, The College Dropout, is still one of his most successful,” said Henry Reyes, an eighth-grader at Rachel Carson.

The College Dropout was first released in 2004 as Kanye’s first studio album. It received high ratings critically and went on to win the award for Best Rap Album of the Year at the 2005 Grammys. With songs like All Falls Down talking about Kanye’s insecurities and Spaceship talking about Kanye’s job at the GAP when he was 15, many found they could relate to the album on a personal level. 

“In my opinion, it would be about poverty and self consciousness. I find this is perpetuated in songs like All Falls Down and We Don’t Care,” says eighth-grader Nadir Javid.

Many feel that this album is Kanye at his most relatable, as he spits about “the hustle” in Southern Chicago with We Don’t Care and talks about family problems and family reunions in Family Business. 

Some students found that they connected well with the track All Falls Down.

Remy Nguyen, an eighth-grader at Rachel Carson said, “It’s pretty cliche, but I really enjoyed All Falls Down because he focuses on talking about society’s insecurities and actions, mostly for the black community.” 

Kanye seems to have it all figured out, except for his album’s skits, which are mainly used to make fun of those pursuing higher education instead of making money. Several students felt that the album’s skits just didn’t land their jokes. Kanye would later drop his skits in his 2007 album, Graduation, which also ended Kanye’s college-centric albums.

“The College Dropout and Kanye’s two albums afterward have that great production that Kanye dropped in 808’s and Heartbreak,” said Henry. “We wouldn’t see the soulful underdog Kanye again after 808’s and Heartbreak.”

Kanye during the early 2000s was well known for his soul-sampling in his productions. In almost all of his tracks in his first three albums all feature samples from old ’60s and ’70s soul tracks. 

“I enjoyed the tempo of the drums and the chords they used for the bass guitar in some songs,” said Joel Paine, an  eighth-grader. “I also enjoyed the harmony they did near the end of Two Words, and when the kids sang in We Don’t Care.” 

In 2008, Kanye changed his production style to express the emotion he wanted to portray in his album 808’s and Heartbreak, filling his tracks with the deep bass of the 808 drum machine and heavily auto-tuning his voice to travel across this new soundscape.

The final song on the album, Last Call, is about how Kanye got signed to Roc-a-fella after his deal with Capitol Records fell through. After making beats for Beanie Sigel and eventually Jay Z, Joe 3H, an A&R from Capitol Records, offered Kanye a deal with Capitol. Kanye was going to take this deal until someone told Joe that Kanye was a producer-rapper, which caused the deal to fall through, as producer-rappers have a track record of being outshined by their beats. In an attempt to not lose Kanye as a producer, G Roberson, the owner of the Roc-a-fella label, reluctantly signed Kanye on August 3, 2002. 

“I liked the slower pace of Last Call, it really sets the tone for the story of his deal falling through with Capitol,” said Kyra Fox, an eighth-grader. 

Students say that Kanye has lost his relatability since his more recent works, even as early as Yeezus.

“Kanye has lost his underdog status. He’s the richest rapper in the game. Bypassing figures he used to look up to and work under when he started, it has inflated his ego,” said Nadir. “Especially with rants and statements made during his SNL night, TMZ interview, and Saint Pablo tour, he’s made a bad name for himself.”