Since 1984: Kanye West Releases The College Dropout In 2004

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A decade ago today, Kanye West released his now classic debut album “The College Dropout” on Roc-a-fella/Def Jam Recordings. Marking the beginning of his illustrious career, the album truly transcended Hip-Hop music.

It was recorded over a period of four years, beginning in 1999. Prior to the album’s release, West had worked on rapper Jay-Z’s The Blueprint (2001), which showcased his melodic and soulful style of hip hop production. The production of the album was often halted by the lack of confidence that producers had in West’s rapping ability, eventually being convinced based off the success of his early musical ventures. The album had production entirely handled by West, and features musical contributions from Jay-Z, John Legend, Ervin “EP” Pope, Miri Ben-Ari, and Syleena Johnson. Diverging from the then-dominant gangster persona in hip hop, West’s lyrics on the album concern themes of family, religion, self-consciousness, materialism, and personal struggles. The album was promoted by singles including “Through the Wire” and “Jesus Walks”, both of which received critical acclaim. “All Falls Down” and “Slow Jamz” both charted within the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, with the latter charting at number one. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 441,000 copies in its first week. It was a massive commercial success, producing five singles that achieved chart success. Upon its release, The College Dropout received general acclaim from music critics and earned West several accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 47th Grammy Awards. It is West’s best-selling album in the United States, with domestic sales of over 3.1 million copies and worldwide sales of over four million copies. It has been named by Time and Rolling Stone as one of the greatest albums of all time and is often listed amongst the greatest debut albums ever released by a hip hop artist.


Listen to Kanye West’s debut album “The College Dropout” on Spotify:

For more back in the day Def Jam Recordings history like this, check out