10 years ago today, the greatest rap (musical?) debut of this century came out. Kanye West’s College Dropout dropped in like a breath of fresh air and my ears and love of hip-hop would not be the same. I wrote in brief for Bro Jackson about it but I need to expand more.
For me, it was the first time a rapper had touched me in a way I could relate. I connected with Eminem for his passion, Nas for his lyricism and Tribe Called Quest for their vibe. I enjoyed Nelly and I tolerated 50 Cent while not becoming the full G-Unit fan most were. I still hadn’t found too many rappers that spoke to where I was.
That’s where Kanye West came in. A middle-class kid from Chicago who grew up like I did. A guy who didn’t fit in to what convention said a rapper should be just like I wasn’t what most of my peers expected of Black kids. He cared about his fashion, wore backpacks and looked like a combination of underground cred with mainstream appeal.