It has been 10 years and one day since the debut of Kanye West's The College Dropout. We all know the story of Kanye getting into the rap game: how Dame Dash and Jay Z signed him without knowing how far he'd go, how other labels passed on the chance to sign Kanye as a rapper, and how their expectations outside of his talents as a producer were extremely low—good going, guys.
Once Kanye cleared that hurdle and seized the opportunity to release his debut album, the next challenge was winning over critics and fans. In 2004, we were still getting our record reviews from major print publications—and sporadically at that. Some magazines reviewed rap CDs late, some early, and some not at all. Internet journalism was just beginning to become the phenomenon that it is today (although free downloading was already eating into album sales). By and large, the masses still looked to critics—rather than bloggers or social media—to gauge whether or not they should bother listening to (or even buying) an album.
Ten years later it's easy to call The College Dropout a classic (mainly because it is), but because Kanye was still at the start of his rap career, music critics weren't quite sure what to make of him. As part of our College Dropout week, we asked the writers who critiqued Yeezy's debut to take a look back, reflect on the decade gone by, and review their own reviews.