Ask someone what their favorite song is on The College Dropout, and it's pretty unlikely they'll say "Breathe In Breathe Out." Yet despite not being the most beloved cut on the album, it actually played a major role in the album's creation. Even after Kanye managed to get signed to Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam wasn't particularly excited for his project. In fact, according to Dame Dash, Lyor Cohen refused to open a budget for Kanye's album.
To make matters worse, there was an internal fued between Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella because Roc-A-Fella artists were racking up bills at their famed Baseline Studios with little accountability for what songs they were actually making. The dispute lead to Def Jam putting a freeze on all Roc-A-Fella artist's budgets, except for Jay Z.
However, Kanye kept racking up bills while working at Record Plant in L.A. On a trip to New York, Kanye happened to be introduced to Lyor at the Def Jam offices and he proceeded to play Lyor his album. "Lyor Cohen went crazy for ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out,’" recalled Plain Pat. "Like, ‘This is my favorite one!’ We were like, ‘Check this ‘Jesus Walks’ one out.’ And he was like, ‘Don’t fuck it up Kanye. I only like this one.’"
The very next day, Kanye's budget—and only Kanye's budget—was opened up again and he was able to complete the album.