The College Dropout

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The College Dropout is the first studio album by Kanye West. It was released on February 10th, 2004.

The College Dropout
Studio album by
Kanye West
ReleasedFebruary 10th, 2004
ProducerKanye West
Kanye West chronology
The College Dropout
Late Registration


After almost a decade of amateur rapping and producing, West began his professional music career as a producer in the mid 90s. West's first production credits were on Grav's Down to Earth album released in 1996, he produced eight tracks on the project. While being mostly known as a producer in the 90's, West was also part of a group called the Go-Getters. They were formed in Chicago and were made up of West, GLC, Really Doe, Timmy G, and Arrowstar. Only two tapes were released by the Go-Getters, World Record Holders and Kanye+GG. West also recorded several demo tapes during this time period.

As a producer, West eventually worked his way up to collaborating with more acclaimed rappers, West met Jay-Z in 2000 and would go on to produce several tracks on The Blueprint released the following year (notably, "Takeover" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)").

Although West was having success as a producer, his ultimate goal was to become a successful rapper as well. Labels West tried to get deals from were reluctant to sign him, as he didn't fit the popular gangsta rap image of the time and wasn't seen as very marketable to mainstream listeners. After an unsuccessful attempt to gain a record deal from Capitol Records, he was eventually signed by Roc-A-Fella Records in October 2002. They were afraid he would be signed by another label and quit working with them and most notably Jay-Z.


While main recording for The College Dropout began in 1999, the earliest material dates back to the early 90's, with unused beats and ideas being reworked for the album. The bulk of the album was recorded at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles after West was signed. The tracklist was revised several times, with one configuration including Late Registration tracks Hey Mama and Gold Digger, as well as Graduation track Homecoming (then titled Home).

On October 23, 2002, West was driving home after a late session in the studio when he fell asleep at the wheel. He got in a near-fatal car crash that left him with a broken jaw and broke both legs of the other driver as well. This crash would inspire West to write the album's first single Through the Wire, originally rapped with his jaw wired completely shut. The crash ultimately led to West becoming more productive in the studio as well, working on the project nonstop in the studio while he recovered.

During the lead-up to The College Dropout, West released two promotional mixtapes, Get Well Soon released in December 2002, and I'm Good released in 2003. Two Words and an early version of Through the Wire were included as well as a snippet of Jesus Walks.

In December 2003, an early version of The College Dropout leaked online, West used this opportunity to go back and revise the album where he saw fit. Many new tracks were added and some were even removed entirely. Most of the tracks were in some way altered as well for the final release.

Track listing[edit]

Alternate Configurations[edit]