College Dropout - Kanye West

Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Throughout The College Dropout, Kanye subverts cliches from both sides of the hip-hop divide, which again isn’t unprecedented, but still refreshing and revelatory coming from someone who could have just as easily stood pat on his massive Midas-producer stacks.
  2. Feb 17, 2011
    Most producers who approach the mic do so at their peril, but on Dropout, West turns out to be a full-service hip-hop artiste.
  3. Feb 17, 2011
    Like every hip-hop album (even the great ones), Kanye West's The College Dropout is marred by too many guest artists, too many interludes, and just too many songs period. (I challenge every hip-hop artist working today to record just one album with 12 tracks or less-no skits, no guests, no filler.)
  4. 100
    There will be few better albums released this year.
  5. West is at his best the higher the lyrical stakes get, and the more they contradict hip-hop orthodoxy.
  6. A flawed, overlong, hypocritical, egotistical, and altogether terrific album.
  7. 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.
  8. College Dropout contains some of the most intelligent and clever lyrics hip-hop has produced in a while, be it mainstream or underground.
  9. 80
    Delivers both ass-shakers and contemplative cuts.
  10. His ace in the hole is his signature cozy sound -- dusty soul samples, gospel hymns, drums that pop as if hit for the very first time.
  11. College Dropout is a competent if overlong debut, which serves up solid but by no means groundbreaking production work a little too dependent on familiar hooks from '70s R&B staples.
  12. Not only does he create a unique role model, that role model is dangerous--his arguments against education are as market-targeted as other rappers' arguments for thug life.
  13. That level of "realness", the way that the songs ring true whether he's bragging or self-criticizing, joking or praying, is what makes The College Dropout more than worthy of all of the attention that it's getting.
  14. With sterling quality to match its massive advance hype, The College Dropout is one of those wonderful crossover albums that appeal to a huge audience without sacrificing a shred of integrity.
  15. West magically sledgehammers home his opinions on taboo topics over beats that are equally daring.
  16. 2004's first great hip-hop album. [9 Feb 2004]
  17. West's witty, self-produced solo debut, College Dropout, frolics in this space between should and can, between playful hyper-awareness and young, willful naïvete.
  18. A sprawling and undisciplined mess... but it’s fully attuned to what made West so compelling in the first place, namely chunks of samples that feel raw and convey an underdog sensibility.
  19. West does tend to overextend his songs.... But it's a forgiveable sin for a man whose music and message is so powerful. [12 Feb 2004, p.E16]
  20. 90
    Manages to be both visceral and emotive, sprinkling the dancefloors with tears and sweat. [Mar 2004, p.111]
  21. 80
    This is manna for hip hop fans starved of basic but ballistic beats-and-breaks fare in an increasingly litigious age. [May 2004, p.102]
  22. 80
    West's rhymes are wry, witty, warm and unswervingly self-aware. [May 2004, p.106]
  23. 80
    He has his own personality: not a gangsta or a player but a diligent pragmatist. [Apr 2004, p.124]
  24. His production is masterful enough to demonstrate just why he is hip hop's hottest new property. [May 2004, p.111]
  25. West delivers the goods with a disarming mix of confessional honesty and sarcastic humor, earnest idealism and big-pimping materialism. [13 Feb 2004, p.71]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 469 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 7 out of 147
  1. Aug 14, 2010
    One of the best debut albums ever made.

    Before this album, Kanye West didn't become the ruler he is today. He was the acclaimed producer of
    Blueprint who served up hit tracks one after another. But his real dream was to become a rapper and that was a difficult task. In an industry dominated by gangsta rap and hardcore rap, it was hard for a backpacker like Kanye West to shine. But those troubles are furthermore reason why College Dropout is one of the best debut albums ever. Why? Because he overcame them with one HUGE leap.

    Kanye isn't the gangsta/hustler type. He is the average guy who has something to say. He discusses various topics like college education, his drop out, materialism, consumerism, religion and its role in music among others. Not expected of a normal rap album because it sounds too normal. But that is the beauty of the album. West fearlessly dares to rap about things that don't include money, crack, girls, or clothes. And he does it with his own style that is powerful and engaging. He can be funny and serious at the same time. Lyrically, he isn't half-bad. He is able to interest his audience throughout the course of the album.

    And the production? Oh man. The beats are surprisingly so catchy yet inventive. Jesus Walks features a pounding club peat and chants that accompany his messages of Jesus and lack of God on radio simply because there is no profitability. And The New Workout Plan features a booty shaker that is laced with Middle Eastern violins.

    West's wordplay is still to be developed and some songs feel like filler tracks. Nonetheless, College Dropout is an outstanding achievement by one so normal to most of us yet so unique to his fellow rap peers.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 8, 2011
    Released on February 10, 2004, on Roc-A-Fella Records
    Kanye was not new to the rap scene, but with The College Dropout he introduced himself
    as not only as a dope
    producer but a talented rapper. Every track is pure Kanye gold; itâ
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 4, 2013
    A near flawless start to one of the greatest album trajectories of this generation, College Dropout is the record that established Kanye West as a force in the music industry. He may not be the greatest rapper, but he knows how to use his sampler and revamps classic soul songs to make enjoyable modern hits. Full Review »