Kanye West came into the scene as this young-kid out of Chicago who could mix a mean set of soul and gospel records into an unbelievably infectious beat. Most notably ‘infectious’ are the tracks  he did with Jay-Z, “H to the Izzo,” “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love),” and “Lucifer,” to name a few. Quickly, Kanye joined the ranks of The Neptunes and Timbaland in the producer world, but wasn’t entirely fulfilled with the work. So, what’s a young aspiring artist to do? He released an imperfect, yet intriguing mixtape, Get Well Soon…, and by the time he was set to release his debut album as an emcee he had three singles in Billboard’s Top 20. It was an impressive ascent that led to an impressive album.

Sure, The College Dropout is flawed with it’s occasional egotism, juvenille lyrics, stupid skits and distracting guest appearances, but somehow those flaws culminate to create a personable, addictive album. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a wet-nosed producer-turned-rapper, except West is irrefutably charismatic, quick-witted and often times hilarious.

In addition to West’s magnetic personality and presence, The College Dropout sports a superb potpourri of underground-meets-mainstream in its guest appearances. I know I mentioned that they were distracting earlier… They are, we could have heard more of West, but the line-up from Jay-Z to GLC, was refreshing. At the time, Hip-hop was becoming partitioned. The College Dropout was an important step in the right direction.

Finally, the best part about West’s debut album, are the moments of modesty. Today, we all know the West that implicated himself as the modern day Jesus, but on songs like “All Falls Down” we hear a bit of self-efficacy and it’s great.

Anyway, The College Dropout despite it’s flaws, was terrific. It introduced West as an adaptable lyricist, an admirable emcee and further propelled his name into producer stardom. I miss this version of Kanye West, but if he hadn’t evolved we wouldn’t have gotten the wonderful album that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Listen to The College Dropout below!