Personal Reflection: Kanye’s “The College Dropout” turns 10 today

It’s been quite some time since I contributed anything to this blog. However, I feel compelled to acknowledge the fact that Kanye West’s debut studio album, “The College Dropout,” was released 10 years ago today: February 10, 2004. It was that album and a track titled “Through the Wire” that introduced me to the wonderful world of hip-hop and music as a form of entertainment.

I wrote a brief piece about two years ago detailing my affection for West’s music and I thought I would share it with you all.

Enjoy.

“Love at First Listen”

by Anthony Hartmann

It was late 2003. Yes, I remember it quite clearly: a crisp, fuchsia foliage-filled autumn afternoon, the kind of day reserved for family football follies and final attempts at barbeques.

Yet there I was, flipping TV channels in my bedroom. I was quite fortunate, however, as I managed to catch one of the final music videos ever broadcast on MTV (I’m kidding, maybe).

The Chaka Khan-sampling lyrical handiwork of Kanye West, “Through the Wire,” stumbled upon my ears by pure accident. West’s track tells the tale of his recovery from a near-fatal car accident that fractured his jaw in October of 2002. The accompanying music video helps portray West’s story with use of Polaroid-style photographs on a corkboard, some “depicting” brief video clips. West recorded the song just two weeks after having his jaw wired shut, offering the unique pun for the work’s title.

I’ve heard of love at first sight, but I can only be sure of love at first listen. West’s first impression managed to pluck every string of my heart and capture my adoration. It was the first time I had genuinely developed an interest in any music at all, at a ripe and receptive 12 years old.

I saved my money for months by taking the garbage outside and occasionally convincing grandma I was in dire need of some cash. I purchased “The College Dropout,” Kanye West’s first studio album, in February 2004. Shortly after, I purchased my very first portable CD player to maximize my listening capabilities.

“The College Dropout” was merely the appetizer for the sometimes gluttonous array of dulcet desserts that I would soon grow accustomed to from the founder of G.O.O.D. Music. Several listening devices, headphones, and CD’s later, Kanye remains the epicenter of my musical world.

Psychologists believe we store our encoded memories in the hippocampus, a section of the brain. My brain has another place to store memories: Kanye West’s Hip-Hop Campus (see what I did there?). The timeline of West’s career has intertwined with that of my own life, providing my life with a soundtrack.

“Touch the Sky” was my junior varsity basketball coach’s favorite song. “Street Lights” was a song I enjoyed listening to with a fellow backcourt member during my senior season of high school basketball. And “G.O.O.D. Friday” reminds me of the road trip I make with my roommate on our way home every school vacation.

I don’t watch MTV anymore, but you’re still just as likely to find me indoors on a hand-picked autumn day. But whatever it is I’m doing, you can bet I’m listening to Kanye, adding another page to my cognitive chronicles.

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About Anthony Hartmann

Sports fan. Journalism Major. Supermarket supervisor. Excelsior!

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