In celebration of its upcoming 10-year anniversary, 26 collaborators share their stories behind the making of Kanye West's debut album.
"The College Dropout" is the story of and for the underdog, the underachiever. It still is, 10 years after its release (February 10, 2004).
Kanye West fought for recognition when he was 12 years old, and still thirsts for respect today. He survived a car accident that nearly killed him, but instead propelled him, and strengthened the necessity to jump on tables to prove his talents and fight stigmas that come with being a rapper/producer and a brutally honest, emotional backpacker.
Kanye's first studio album, "The College Dropout," continues to resonate in pop culture 10 years after its release, not only because of Kanye West but all of those who were a part of the creation. Everyone who contributed was an underdog as well, trying to prove themselves to their hometown, label executives, peers, and most importantly, themselves.
Everyone involved – Kanye West, those he grew up with him in Chicago (GLC, Coodie, Chike, Really Doe, Olskool Ice-Gre, JB Marshall), those who he met at the latter end of the album's development to those who in the thick of it all – were so hungry to achieve something that they became one unit. One family, one machine, with the goal to kick down doors and brighten Kanye West's future. Even as everyone moved on to fulfill their own ambitions and dreams, "The College Dropout" was in the pit of each of them.
In celebration of Kanye West's "The College Dropout," here are the stories of 26 contributors – "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" – who were involved in the making of the album, and more importantly, became instrumental to Kanye West's career.
88-Keys – Founder of Locksmith Music | Producer | Rapper
Common – Rapper
Coodie & Chike – Directors | Founders of Creative Control
Damon Dash – Executive Producer | Co-Founder of Roc-A-Fella Records
Devo Springsteen – Cousin to Kanye West | Former roomate to John Legend | Producer | Songwriter
Ferris Bueller – Marketing
Freeway – Rapper
Gee Roberson – Co-Executive Producer | Manager | Co-CEO of Hip Hop Since 1978 | Co-CEO of Blueprint Group
JB Marshall – Manager | A&R Executive
J. Ivy – Poet
Joe "3H" Weinberger –Management | Former A&R, Capitol Records
John Legend – Singer | Songwriter
John Monopoly – Manager | Co-Founder of Hustle Period
Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua - Co-Executive Producer | Manager | Co-Co-CEO of Hip Hop Since 1978
Miri Ben-Ari – Violinist
No I.D. – Producer
Olskool Ice-Gre – Former G.O.O.D. Music A&R | Founder of Honest Management
Plain Pat - Producer | Songwriter | Fromer A&R, Island Def Jam
Really Doe – Rapper
Shalik Berry – VP of A&R, Epic Records | Former A&R Coordinator, Island Def Jam
Syleena Johnson – Singer | Songwriter
Talib Kweli – Rapper
Tony Williams – Cousin to Kanye West | Singer | Songwriter