Ten years ago today, the world saw Kanye West drop his debut album, The College Dropout. Recorded over a period of four years, the album sold nearly half a million copies in its first week. It is Kanye’s best-selling album in the U.S.A. with over 3.1 million copies sold, and over four million copies sold worldwide.
Not so many rappers can boast winning a Grammy award with their first offering, but The College Dropout garnered Kanye two Grammys: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for the album’s fourth single, “Jesus Walks”, at the 47th Grammy Awards. The album, which features rappers such as Jay-Z, Ludacris, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, has been listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best albums of all time and there’s no doubt the album is among best debut albums ever released by a hip hop artist.
Looking back to Kanye’s come-up, a lot of people (including the producers he worked with) were not convinced by his rapping ability, and little did they know they were doubting a guy who would later morph into one of hip hop’s icons. “People told me I couldn’t rap, I couldn’t sell a record, that I didn’t have a f**ing chance and it hurt me. I just wanna stunt,” Kanye expressed his feelings about his doubters during an interview with Sway Calloway in February 2004.
The College Dropout has reverberated throughout these long ten years, even though he has made other albums that are equally remarkable, including Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Now, ten years later, a lot has changed. Mr. West has moved from being the soulful, melodic rapper that he was ten years ago, with Yeezus being the prime example of how determined Kanye is to explore his creative abilities. What hasn’t changed, however, is how he emphatically uses the negativity he receives from his skeptics to influence his raps.
The College Dropout was really the birth of a brand, a fashion designer and entrepreneur.