FIVE BEATS A DAY FOR THREE SUMMERS
5 Beats a Day for 3 Summers
Kanye West was in such a zone when recording College Dropout. One we haven't seen him in, in quite a while — especially looking back over recent years. That's not to say that he has not consistently given us great music (ignores Yeezus' haters), but the Kanye we have now is not the Kanye we knew back then. Success removes you from certain things in life, yet brings certain ills. It's the iconic battle of the ying and yang; nothing new to anyone under the sun.
College is sold in as ‘preparation for the real world’ to the young, impressionable minds coming out of high school looking to further their education. In reality, we have all learned college tends to be the exact opposite of that. The real world consists of many more complex situations than the simulations in your level 4000 classes.
I think what Kanye set out to do with this album was destroy the notion of ANY institutionalized school of thought. Any thought that stated you must do THIS a certain way to reach THIS particular goal. He encouraged us to take limitations out of our minds, remove doubt from our hearts, and chase down any and all dreams. He wanted us to know there was strength in vulnerability.
With all that being said, there is no surprise that I learned the most about life from the college dropout.
In all ‘All Falls Down’ I learned about insecurities/self-consciousness and unrestrained consumerism:
Insecurities: “Man, I promise, she’s so self-conscious/She has not idea what she doin’ in college/That major that majored in don’t make no money/But she won’t drop out, her parents’ll look at her funny/Now tell me that ain’t insecurr/The concept of school seem some secure”
Unrestrained Consumerism: “I say “fuck the police,” that’s how I treat em’/We buy our way out of jail, but we can’t buy freedom/We’ll buy a lot of clothes but we don’t really need em’/Things we buy to cover up what’s inside/Cause they made us hate ourself and love they wealth/That’s why shorty’s hollerin, ‘Where the ballers at?’/Drug dealer buy Jordan, crackhead by crack/And the white man get paid off of all of that/But I ain’t even gon’ act holier than thou/Cause fuck it, I went to Jacob with 25 thou/Before I had house and I’d do it again/Cause I wanna be on 106 & Park, pushin’ a Benz/I want to act ballerific like it it’s all terrific/I got a couple past-due bills, I won’t get specific/I got a problem with spendin’ before I get it/ We all self-consciousness, I’m just the first to admit it.”
In ‘Spaceships’ I learned about colorism in corporate America:
Colorism: “Take me to the back and pat me/Askin’ me about some khaki’s/Bet let some black people walk in/I bet they show off their token blakcie/Oh now they love Kanye, let’s put him all in the front of the store”
In ‘Jesus Walks’ I learned about the need for God on a mainstream level, especially in music. He spoke about the need for God in his life and touched on the uncertainty of how to communicate with Him. All those points were extremely relateble to me:
Relationship with God: Now, hear ye, hear ye, want to see Thee more clearly/I know he hear me when my feet get weary/Cause we’re the almost nearly extinct/We rappers is role models: we rap, we don’t think/I ain’t here to argue about his facial features/Or here to convert atheists into believers/I’m just tryna say the way school need teachers/The way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that’s the way I need Jesus/So here go my single dog, radio needs this/They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus/That means guns, sex, lies, video tape/But if I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh? Well if this take away from spins/Which’ll probably take away from my ends/Then I hope this takes away from my sins/And bring the day that I’m dreamin’ about/Next time I’m in the club, everybody screamin’ out.”
In ‘School Spirit (Skit 1)’ I learned about nepotism:
“If you continue to work at the Gap, after several interviews/oh my GOD/You’ll come in at an entry-level position/And if you do that/If you kiss enough ass/You’ll move up to next level/Which is being the secretary’s secretary/And boy is that great/You can take messages for the secretary/Who NEVER went to college/She’s actually the boss’ niece!”
In ‘Two Words’ he spoke on police brutality —an ever growing issue here in the United States:
Police brutality: “And I basically know now/ We get racially profiled/Cuffed up and hosed down/pimped up and hoed down."
Records like ‘Through The Wire’ & ‘Never Let Me Down’ spoke to the importance of resilience. My list could go on and on if we let it, and at this point, I am sure that you’re thinking of your own personal thoughts to add as well. This was more than just a hip-hop album for me, this was sign of things to come past the safe confines of college walls.
Thank you for the life lessons, Mr. West.