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Pitch Please: The chronicles of Kanye

16 February 2014 By Kris Jones, Columnist No Comments

Publications were cumulating the birth of Kanye West’s first solo labor of love “The College Dropout.” I was aware that it had been a while since the album dropped, but it’s been 10 years.

I remember seeing the video for “Through The Wire” on MTV almost every 15 minutes when I would stay over my aunt’s house on the weekends and was disturbed by the images of Mr. West’s

swollen face.

I was 11 at the time and I vehemently denied liking any urban music: growing up in a house with seven brothers, I was pretty much forced to listen to the stuff, causing me to grow resentful of the genre.

It wasn’t until I got to high school is when I actually started listening to Kanye thanks to his “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and his “feud” marketing strategy with 50 Cent, when both “Curtis” and “Graduation” were vying for the top spot on the charts and gave both artists record-breaking first sales weeks.

To tell the truth, I didn’t bother to look back at “Dropout” or “Late Registration” because I didn’t feel the need to. I was happy with Kanye and his output (yes, even “808s and Heartbreak”) up until about 2010, but that’s for a different column.  Now I’m curious to see what caused Kanye to become the cultural figurehead and pariah he is today.

“The College Dropout” came before Kanye was a polarizing character in the music industry: he wasn’t keeping up with the Kardashians, he wasn’t proclaiming himself as a creative god amongst men and he wasn’t the subject of rumors that he was the ringleader of the Illuminati.

Mr. West was just a Chicago-based producer who worked on Jay-Z’s “Blueprint” series, introducing his now signature use of samples from the ‘60s and ‘70s, trying to get from behind the scenes and into the spotlight

“The College Dropout” can be viewed as concept album of sorts: Kanye is a sophomore in college (it works if you look at his first three albums as a trilogy rather than standalone releases, but the track “We Don’t Care” makes him a senior).

He becomes disillusioned by the idea of the college system of getting a degree and societal norms as a whole (“All Falls Down”, “School Spirit”) In order for him to make ends meet he takes on the world of retail, to much frustration (“Spaceship”).

With some misadventures mixed in between, including some skits, “Through The Wire” is the climax of the story, as he narrates the car accident that could have made this album non-existent while his mouth was still wired shut and even makes note that it’s because of the accident that people showed any interest in him “Last Call.”

I’m not sure where “The New Workout Plan” falls into this storyline. Maybe he pushed Taebo as a side hustle? Kanye was able to push his brand of hip-hop into the mainstream, pull in critics and fans alike.

One thing that people can’t say is that Kanye’s ideals have changed: racism, materialism and examining his flaws under a critical microscope that would break many artists.

The LP is his firstborn, the coveted child that the other ones are always compared to unfavorably because they fail to reach the public’s idea of perfection.

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