Today (Feb 10) marks the 10th Anniversary of 'The College Dropout'. The debut LP from Kanye West which has sold over 4 million worldwide and picked up 10 Grammy nominations in 2005. It marked the start of a wild career. At the end of last year we marked his latest effort, 'Yeezus' as the album of the year but to celebrate where it all started we have chosen 20 pivotal and memorable moments of the album to celebrate it's 10th birthday.
- Chaka Khan sample on ‘Through The Wire’: This chopped and screwed version of Chaka Khan’s ‘Through The Fire’ provides one of the most triumphant moments on the record.
- Kanye’s first verse on ‘Spaceship’: Kanye’s effortless flow over the ¾ shuffle of 'Spaceship' gives us a rare look at the man before the notoriety, working a dead end job at the GAP but still finding the time to make five beats a day for three summers.
- The rhyming of “Secure” and “Career” on ‘All Falls Down’: Sets a precedent for Kanye’s lyrical carelessness and childlike wordplay, (see also: “Light skinned friend look like Michael Jackson / Got a dark skinned friend look like Michael Jackson”)
- 'Lil Jimmy Skit': The height of the album's storyline-related satire, the notion of "being the smartest dead guy!" is one that has and will continue to taunt for years to come.
- The testimonials from the ladies at the end of ‘New Workout Plan’: Obnoxious, impossible to ignore, tremendously polarizing but arguably on point - oh, I meant the women at the end of the track, not Yeezy
- The gospel hook on ‘Jesus Walks’ sung by ARC (Addicts Rehabilitation Center) choir: Not only does this hook carry a weighty feeling of lordly majesty but the appointment of a choir from a rehabilitation center is testament to Kanye’s near-maniacal attention to detail and ties in perfectly with the second-chance themes of the album.
- “I prefer the term African American Express” on ‘Last Call': Just a fucking amazing lyric. Up to this point there had been little in the way of wordplay or silliness when it came to rappers flexing about money. Kanye stepped the game up in one three-word phrase.
- Preceding ‘Good Life’ on ‘School Spirit’: “Imma get on the TV momma” later became a central part of the chorus to ‘Good Life’ on ‘Graduation’. Another example of Kanye’s head never really slowing down.
- “Oh yeah I got the perfect song for the kids to sing” on ‘We Don’t Care’: As if predicting his near hegemonic cultural and musical influence over our generation, Kanye wryly suggests "I got the perfect song for the kids to sing" - a line that could precede every track he has made since
- Moving from ‘Through The Wire’ to ‘Family Business’: This is a great example of Kanye moving from the victorious ‘me’ songs to the more sombre ‘us’ songs. The rolling pathos of ‘Family Business’ provides one of the best juxtapositions of Kanye’s discography.
- The entire monologue that ends the record: An essential prototype for the "visionary streams of consciousness" - after 8+ minutes of pure Kanye in his potentially most honest form ever, the syllable "ROC" endlessly floating up and off into the atmosphere feels almost like a bold print sign: Watch me rise.
- The use of 1929 hymn, ‘I’ll Fly Away’: Sandwiched in between ‘Spaceship’ and ‘All Falls Down’. This is another nod to Kanye’s gospel influence and religious background but also a welcome respite in between two colossal bangers.
- Ludacris’ hook on ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’: This is what Luda’ does best. Bullish rap hooks that take no prisoners. This tune still has people spilling their jaegerbombs today after a decade.
- Kanye handing the phone over to Talib Kweli in order to “give her dick all the time” on ‘Get Em High’: A highlight of the narrative that runs through the album, Kanye hands the track over to Kweli for an airtight verse from the Brooklyn native.
- Coining the name “Louis Vuitton Don” on ‘Last Call’: Granted, he has now become a God, but this was the first of Yeezy’s street-smart monikers that set his braggery apart from his peers.
- Kanye’s translation of “PHD”: Even the dick jokes fit into the album’s narrative, as Kanye starts his second verse in the underrated “Breathe In, Breathe Out” with the line “Now even though I went to college and dropped out of school quick, I always had a Ph.D: a Pretty Huge Dick”.
- Common’s line, “Real rappers is hard to find, like a remote”: Sometimes it is worth celebrating the worst line in a lyrical treasure chest. Seriously though, where’s the remote?
- “Let’s get Stevie out of jail” at the end of ‘Family Business’: The most honest and sentimental moment of the whole LP about Kanye’s incarcerated family member is referenced by name at the end of one of his most soulful and sincere cuts.
- DeRay Davis impersonating Bernie Mac on ‘Intro’: The album begins with a grouchy spoken word introduction from Kanye's School Principal character that sounds just like the late, great king of comedy Bernie Mac but is actually an impersonation by voice actor Deray Davis. This character reappears in a similar fashion in Late Registration intro ‘Wake Up Mr. West’.
- “We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it” on All Falls Down: This could be Kanye’s epitaph. The dichotomy of arrogance and self-loathing is the war that Kanye will be fighting forever. This is the tagline for the battle. Long may it continue.
If you haven't got it, buy it here.
Words: Duncan Harrison, Nick Boyd, Tony Giambrone, Angus Harrison and Nick Dalessio