Our digital cover kicks off a week of features celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kanye West's debut album.
At this moment in human history, it would be difficult to name a more celebrated, more vilified or more ubiquitous cultural figure than Kanye West. His recent pronouncement to Zane Lowe ("We are culture. Rap is the new rock and roll... We the biggest rock stars, and I’m the biggest of all of them") may have been self-important, but it wasn't the slightest bit exaggerated. So it's hard to believe that just ten years ago today, the Atlanta-born, Chicago-raised producer responsible for Jay Z's "Takeover" released his enormously influential debut album, The College Dropout. Arriving almost exactly a year after 50 Cent's massive debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin', Kanye's music and persona could not have been more different than the Queens MC with all the bullet wounds. "Wasn't talkin' bout coke and birds," he said on his lead single, "It was more like spoken word." Not everybody was a believer from the jump, but Yeezy himself always saw the vision clearly.
Ten years later Kanye's lovable college bear mascot has morphed into the fearsome Kanyeti and the bejeweled Margiela mask, while his sound has evolved from what one writer called "the heady chipmunk-soul exuberance of The College Dropout" to the brutal digital minimalism of Yeezus. During that 10-year run, Complex and Kanye have enjoyed a special creative kinship. At every step along the way, one thing has remained consistent: Kanye's laserlike focus on perfection and his unwillingness to compromise on even the smallest detail. In that spirit we're celebrating the 10th anniversary of Mr. West's seminal debut with a next-level digital cover featuring a never-before-published 2002 interview between Kanye West and Complex chief content officer Noah Callahan-Bever. Much more than just a throwback Q&A, what emerges from this conversation is that Kanye has always known exactly where he was going, even though it took the rest of us a while to catch on. NCB and Yeezy's dialogue is accompanied by evocative illustrations by Sam Rodriguez and animation by Robert Hribernick that brings select moments from their interview (including a hot frestyle) to life. We're also rolling out associate editor Insanul Ahmed's definitive oral history of the making of The College Dropout. Keep checking back for more exclusive Kantent during Complex's "The College Dropout" week. As Ye put it ten years ago in his first Complex cover story: "You can't take anything away from me if I have that ego. It's part of the whole ambiance, so just enjoy the ride."
RELATED: All "The College Dropout" Week Posts