Long-Time Producer Lays Down His Own Rhythms

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Kanye West makes a great debut with his “The College Dropout,” selling 450,000 in the first week.

(At first,) West was only known as a producer in the year 2000 to his peers in the rap game. Rappers like Scarface, Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel and Ludacris, along with R&B singers such as Alicia Keys, went to him for beats and he did not let any of them down. Did you ever wonder why songs like “Guess who’s Back” by Scarface, “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Jay-Z, and “Stand Up” by Ludacris have those banging beats? It is because West produced each of the songs and came up with something new and something different each time. Sure the rappers are great lyricists but what would a rapper be without a great beat? Not too much and this is where West comes in. Rappers who have worked with him want to work with him again as is the case with Jay-Z who has counted on West to produce his songs on his last four CD’s. The rappers who have not worked with West wish they could. There are not a lot of guest appearances on “The College Dropout,” but then again West does not need a lot of collaborations. Despite this, rappers such as Freeway, Talib Kweli, Common, Twista, Ludacris, Mos Def and Jay-Z all add their contributions to the album.

While West is still far from done being a producer, he shows he can be a great rapper with his debut album. This is not your ordinary rap CD. Don’t expect the same old pop-rap songs, such as “In da Club,” by artist 50-Cent.

His first single, “Through the Wire” tells us what he went through when his mouth was wired shut after getting in an accident that almost took his life away. “In the blink of an eye his whole life changed/if you could feel how my face felt/you would know how Mase felt/Thank god I ain’t to cool for the safe belt.” Other tracks like “We Don’t Care,” “Two Words” and my personal favorite “Last Call” are sure to nod some heads because of the catchy beat and the great lyrics. “The all around the world Digital Underground Pac/The Rudolph The Red Noise Reindeer of the Roc/I take my chain my 15 seconds of fame/And came back next year with the whole [damn] game.”

West did not forget about the ladies as he shows his softer side in “Slow Jamz.” He sings, “I told her to drive over in your whip/Bring some friends you cool with/I’m a bring the Cool Whip then I want you to strip.” It’s not exactly Boys II Men, but then again West is not trying to be just another singer. His most personal track is “Never Let me Down” featuring Jay-Z.

In this track, he raps about the hardships that his mother went through growing up when he says, “I get down for my grandfather who took my momma/Made her sit in that seat where white folks ain’t want us to eat/At the tender age of 6 she was arrested for the sit-ins/And with that in my blood I was born to be different.”

If you are a fan of real rap music and you are tired of pop singers like 50cent and Chingy, pretending to be rappers, then you should definitely go to the nearest music store and pay whatever you have to pay to get “The College Dropout” It took me two days to get through the CD because skipping a track was not possible. The CD will make you turn down your windows in your car even when it is raining. It will make guys think and girls sing along. West brings something new with “The College Dropout.” It’s not the same old rap music that we’ve been hearing lately. West is the future of Hip-Hop because he is at the right place at the right time. He has got everything it takes to make it in the industry. It also does not hurt that he is Jay-Z’s successor.

With Jigga retiring, West will step up on Roc-A-Fella Records and luckily for us, he will continue to produce tracks and put out beautiful music.

Rate: eight mics out of 10.