#RushHourRap – Kanye West – The College Dropout is Now 15 Years Old

15 years? Preposterous. The College Dropout, Kanye’s debut album, dropped on Feb. 10, 2004 when I was all of 15 so Yeezy has been in my ear for about half of my life. I still remember seeing the video for Through the Wire on MTV and immediately thinking two things: 1.) This is incredible and 2.) Who is this guy because it seems like he’s already a force behind the scenes.

If you’ve never seen some of the behind the scenes footage, this is a good place to start the YouTube rabbit hole. A then unknown Kanye just blowing Jay-Z’s mind with the beat that would later become Lucifer on HOV’s 2003 classic, The Black Album.

All Falls Down is still one of my favorite tracks and the video itself was just Kanye’s POV of a day in the life dropping his girl off at the airport. A pretty uninspiring concept when you say it out loud, but that shot of him rapping in the mirror of the airport bathroom is stilled burned into my brain for some reason. Having Stacey Dash in your video never hurts either.

It seems we living the american dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

Say what you want about him now, but you can’t deny the guy changed the game as the ultimate standout. You could just as easily call him a contrarian for his self described “pink-ass polos with a fuckin’ backpack. But everybody know you brought real rap back.” In an era when EVERY rapper was rocking baggy jeans and throwback jerseys, Kanye was trying to make it cool to dress dorky. And it worked.

Just read this excerpt from an excellent piece about The College Dropout that I found on Sabotage Times:

He might be a superstar now, but he represented the underdog in the beginning. Back in early 2004, when 50 Cent was hip-hop’s undisputed king, street credibility was a prerequisite to success. The son of a photojournalist and an English professor, Kanye had a middle-class upbringing and didn’t fit into that mould. Sure, people loved his production work, but no one was convinced about him as a rapper. Where would this goofy dude fit in? What did he have to rap about?

He got his record deal at Roc-A-Fella, Jay Z’s label, because co-founder Dame Dash wanted to use his beats for a compilation, not because they believed in him as a rapper. Unbeknownst to anyone at the company, he instead worked on College Dropout, an album that would transform the genre and dispense with those narrow preconceptions about rappers entirely.

So here’s to 15 years of The College Dropout.

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