"The future of Hip Hop" - Mos Def (prior to a Def Poetry Jam performance). What Mos Def right? What does he of all people know? Well, according to his music and personality - a shitload. His opinion regarding Kanye was nothing short of accurate.
After ghost-producing for some noteworthy artists, Kanye scored a deal with one of rap's largest and most impressionable labels. With few artists proving to make a worthwhile enough creative impact on Rocafella (Jay being the clear exception), having Kanye along was a brilliant move.
Kanye's production talents aren't arguable. The man is superb. From his previous endeavors through nearly every track on "College Dropout," Kanye proves his worth. The beats are always appropriate in tone and vibe with their subject and the flows above fit accordingly. His signature sound resonates within songs like "My Way" and "Home." The soul sample threaded through the beats has just done wonders for the appeal of his music.
The album features a nice mixture of sincerity and depth combined with genuinely enjoyable light-hearted music. "Home," "Through The Wire," "Family Business" and "Never Let Me Down" (featuring Jay-Z & Saul Williams) contain well written and smoothly performed lyrics talking about Kanye's personal life in a way few artists actually attempt to within the mainstream. "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" (featuring Consequence) and "Breathe In, Breathe Out" are both very entertaining. The flows are slick and the content extremely comedic. Especially upon "Breathe In..." - Kanye's "Work out" song.
Guest appearances upon "College Dropout" are on the whole, well done. However, GLC's verse on "Heavy Hitters," though amusing is fairly feeble. The track itself though failed to impress me that much. The beat was too mellow to support Kanye's relaxed flow either.
Many tracks from the album have been leaked one way or another, through Kanye's personal mix CD's or other DJ mixtapes. However, looking at "College Dropout" as a whole showcases the quality as a musical piece to itself. The priceless "Slow Jam" (Twista's track originally) and Kanye's defining track "Through The Wire" (which he performed after having his jaw recently wired) are gladly included.
In essence, Kanye West may not be the future of Hip Hop, but he needs to remain a strong part of it.