“The all around the world Digital Underground Pac, the Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer of the Roc, I take my chain, my 15 seconds of fame – and come back next year with the whole fucking game!

—Kanye, from the song Last Call

Where were you February 10th, 2004? I was up early after a (very) long night. I was walking towards York University’s student centre to meet up with an independent CD seller who was known to often sell new [retail] albums ahead their scheduled release. This particular morning I was on a mission to pick up the debut album from a young brother by the name of Kanye West, The College Dropout.

After getting my hands on the album, and
“getting right”, I made my way to the library to give it a listen. It was an experience that’s hard to explain. Something I’d only felt a few times – like when I first heard Illmatic or Slim Shady LP. You just knew that this guy was going to be a very big deal. The album was brilliant.

In an era when rappers wore throwbacks and spit about street shit and macho bravado (not that much has changed), Ye was spitting about hating his job at the Gap, dropping out of school, finding Jesus, and recounting his near fatal accident. It was refreshing, articulate, original – an instant classic. It challenged conventions and made Kanye the star he is today. It’s astounding to reflect on the progression he’s had as an artist. From this (literal) backpack rap to Yeezus, It’s almost comical to think that people actually didn’t buy into Kanye originally. As Pharrell notes in his original EPK, “I didn’t know”!.

Today the album turns 11 – and I’m spending my evening knocking it in the whip and reminiscing about a simpler time in my life. Funny how music can do that to you.