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Released: February 10, 2004

Rating: 4.291 (average of 24 ratings)

Genre: rap

Quotable: “The smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” – Josh Tyrangiel & Alan Light, Time magazine

Album Tracks:

  1. Intro [0:19]
  2. We Don’t Care (Vannelli/ West) [3:59]
  3. Graduation Day [1:22]
  4. All Falls Down (with Syleena Johnson)
  5. I’ll Fly Away
  6. Spaceship (with GLC & Consequence)
  7. Jesus Walks
  8. Never Let Me Down (with Jay-Z)
  9. Get ‘Em High (with Talib Kweli & Common)
  10. Workout Plan
  11. The New Workout Plan
  12. Slow Jamz (with Twista & Jamie Foxx)
  13. Breathe in Breathe Out (with Ludacris)
  14. School Spirit Skit 1
  15. School Spirit
  16. School Spirit Skit 2
  17. Lil’ Jimmy Skit
  18. Two Words (with Mos Def & Freeway)
  19. Through the Wire
  20. Family Business
  21. Last Call

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 3.0
sales in U.K. only - estimated 0.3
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 3.3


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 2
peak on U.K. album chart 12

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Through the Wire (10/18/03) #15 US, #9 UK, #8 RB
  • Slow Jamz (11/15/03) #1 US, #3 UK, #1 RB
  • All Falls Down (12/21/03) #7 US, #10 UK, #4 RB, sales: 0.5 m
  • Jesus Walks (5/8/04) #11 US, #16 UK, #2 RB, sales: 0.5 m
  • The New Workout Plan (5/22/04) #60 RB


Rated one of the top 1000 albums of all time by Dave’s Music Database. Click to learn more. Spin magazine – album of the year One of Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums.

The College Dropout
Kanye West
In 2004, Kanye West, “the pink Polo-wearing son of an ex-Black Panther and a college English professor,” TL was “the most sought-after hip-hop producer not named Pharrell.” DH He had “highlight reels [that] were stacking up exponentially when his solo debut for Roc-a-Fella was released, after numerous delays and a handful of suspense-building underground mixes.” AK “Prior to this album, we were more than aware that West’s stature as a producer was undeniable; now we know that he's also a remarkably versatile lyricist and a valuable MC.” AK

“The week The College Dropout came out, three singles featuring his handiwork were in the Top 20, including his own” AK “catchy Through the Wire…[in which] he spits some impeccable rhymes despite his jaw being wired shut after a near-fatal car accident.” DH “A daring way to introduce himself to the masses as an MC…Heartbreaking and hysterical (‘There's been an accident like Geico/ They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael’), and wrapped around the helium chirp of the pitched-up chorus from Chaka Khan’s ‘Through the Fire,’ the song and accompanying video couldn't have forged his dual status as underdog and champion any better.” AK The only downside is that the song is “placed so deep into the album that it’s almost anticlimactic.” AK

Otherwise, the “momentum keeps rolling through The College DropoutAK as West “delivers the unthinkable: [he]magically sledgehammers home his opinions on taboo topics over beats that are equally daring. The envelope-ripping beats shouldn't come as a surprise given that he's supplied the soundscapes to monster singles by everyone from Alicia Keys (‘You Don't Know My Name’) to Talib Kweli (‘Get By’).” DH West is “consistently potent and tempers his familiar characteristics — high-pitched soul samples, gospel elements — by tweaking them and not using them as a crutch. Even though those with their ears to the street knew West could excel as an MC, he has used this album as an opportunity to prove his less-known skills to a wider audience.” AK

“The feel-good club tune of the year, Slow Jamz featuring Twista, College Dropout is as explosive, contradictory, and complex as rap music gets.” DH It is “a side-splitting ode to legends of baby-making soul that originally appeared on Twista's Kamikaze, just before that MC received his own Roc-a-Fella chain.” AK

“One of the most poignant moments is on All Falls Down.” AK “Maybe it was [his] brush with mortality that kicked his lyrics into high gear;” DH in any event, the “self-effacing West examines self-consciousness in the context of his community: ‘Rollies and Pashas done drive me crazy/I can't even pronounce nothing, yo pass the Versacey/Then I spent 400 bucks on this just to be like ‘Nigga you ain’t up on this.’” AK

Never Let Me Down “featured a tremendous guest verse from his mentor and record company president, Jay-Z.” TL That song, along with Jesus Walks and ‘All Falls Down’ showed that West could infuse rap “with wit, intelligence and most of all, complexity.” TL

“In West's world, rhymes about strippers, God, college life, and guns can co-exist tidily and not undermine each other. On Breathe in Breathe Out he raps ‘I gotta apologize to Mos and Kweli/is it cool to rap about gold if I told the world I copped it from Ghana and Mali’ – tongue firmly planted in cheek.” DH

“The skits on here are just as potent,” DH although there are “a few too many.” AK One in particular pokes “fun at the overeducated underclass that makes a small fraction of the loot he does.” DH

In the end, West delivers “an album that's nearly as phenomenal as the boastful West has led everyone to believe.” AK “Even with extended skits and lots of filler, West's debut stands as the smartest, funniest and most important rap album of the new century.” TL

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

Next Album: Late Registration (2005)

Last updated March 16, 2010.