With graduation season in effect, we take a look at some life lessons brought to us by Kanye West's classic "College Dropout."
Kanye West unleashed College Dropout in 2004 - the album, a hip-hop staple, was a satire of the American education system and I was just 13 years old. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure how I even knew of the album. I do remember though, standing adamantly against a wall of a Virgin Records store, listening to the album, and it was quickly burned to a CD upon my arrival home.
Listening to College Dropout I didn't understand a majority of the content, but it was absolutely mesmerizing. I had no idea why this Talib Kweli guy was so important and didn’t even realize “School Spirit” was actually about school. Later on I relistened to the album in college, and it all came together. After leaving my undergraduate career, I truly appreciated College Dropout - the skits, the arrogance, the guest appearances, and the platform Kanye created, streaming between 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Trying and Talib Kweli’s Just to Get By.
Last month Kanye accepted an honorary doctorate from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. During his acceptance speech, an older, more mature Yeezy admitted that his prior projects would have been easier with a degree, but we also know the downsides of those diplomas and what it took to get there.
The skits among many tracks from the album (although highly criticized) resonate fiercely with young students, as Kanye geniously breaks down the humour that is higher education, alongside comedian Deray Davis. These album breaks acted as glue, cementing the records of the album together to create the theme, College Dropout.
As millennials, we learn a lot from the album, in particular the whole gripe that is attending college while making it out alive. Kanye’s raps provide a critical framework in analyzing the pursuit of college, materialism, racism, and the music business. Ten years later, with the cost of college thousands more, the album continues to grow in relevance each day.
Regardless, Kanye’s rhymes and Davis's skits will prepare you for the possibilities of life after college and at least provide some good laughs, whether or not you got that diploma. Let’s take a look at what College Dropout taught us about the value of a degree and the life lessons that come with them.