DAR Roundtable: Kanye West's The College Dropout vs Late Registration

Kanye West arrived on the scene truly in the early 2000s, making a name via his production mostly for Roc-A-Fella. Eventually, Kanye would go on to be one of the most successful rappers of the last 15 years, and his journey began with two back to back classic albums, The College Dropout and Late Registration. Today, we discuss and debate the two albums and see which is better.

The College Dropout 

1. Intro
2. We Don't Care
3. Graduation Day
4. All Falls Down
5. I'll Fly Away
6. Spaceship
7. Jesus Walks
8. Never Let Me Down
9. Get Em High
10. Workout Plan
11. The New Workout Plan
12. Slow Jamz
13. Breathe In, Breathe Out
14. School Spirit Skit 1
15. School Spirit
16. School Spirit Skit 2
17. Lil Jimmy Skit
18. Two Words
19. Through The Wire
20. Family Business
21. Last Call


Late Registration

1. Wake Up Mr. West
2. Heard Em Say
3. Touch The Sky
4. Gold Digger 
5. Skit # 1
6. Drive Slow
7. My Way Home
8. Crack Music
9. Roses
10. Bring Me Down
11. Addiction
12. Skit # 2
13. Diamonds From Sierra Leone(Remix)
14. We Major
15. Skit # 3
16. Hey Mama
17. Celebration
18. Skit # 4
19. Gone
20. Diamonds From Sierra Leone
21. Late

I have to pick College Dropout. For Kanye West to make his debut from producing to his first studio album, everyone had high hopes for the producer giving Jay-Z beats such as "Takeover", "Izzo (H.O.V.A)" and "Heart of The City". In my opinion, he delivered a timeless classic. This album is rich of great drums and soulful samples. From Chaka Khan's Through the Fire being turned into "Through the Wire" and Jesus Walks's iconic drum sample. Kanye gives us lines that are still powerful to this day, "But if I talk about god my record won't get played?", "The prettiest people do the ugliest things/ for the road to riches and diamond rings" and he starts to show us a Kanye we're going to grow and love, love to hate, hate to love. Kanye shows us he has the metaphors and punchlines, the underdog story, and the love of hip hop in its purest form. We've heard tons of interviews over the years of how The College Dropout came to be, but none do them as much justice as the Last Call monologue. If you want to know what The College Dropout stands for, that's the monologue. This album's lyrics are about getting out of your dreams (except for having sex with groupies) and this album has something for every age range, whether it be the samples or struggle of actually going through college. No doubt this is a classic.

With Late Registration, we knew we were going to see Kanye again. Where do you start with this album? The Diamonds of Sierra Leone remix? (we all know it's the better one, this isn't up for debate), "Hey Mama", "Roses", "We Major"?? Kanye really went all out again with the beautiful samples and bringing the pink polo's back into the Roc, if Cam'ron didn't bring them in. Kanye gives us more soulful samples and more great drums, the club bangers, and songs about his struggles. Features are prevalent in this album, but it's no way in shape or form a feature album. Kanye is going head to head with Hov, Nas, Cam'ron in their primes and holds his own and proves with his sophomore album, that he is going to be a household name for a long time. The A&R's definitely messed up not signing Kanye sooner and he made sure they knew that. In my opinion though, this album does get a bit overrated, but that doesn't mean it's any less of a great project. There's great replay value here and longevity. I just prefer College Dropout a bit more.

First of all, RIP Bernie Mac. Kanye's discography is widely praised. Two albums that are considered his best work, College Dropout and Late Registration have been around for 10 years. Which one is better? Well my pick would have to be Late Registration. Funny, usually I'd go with the more raw, and hungry debut album over the masterful sophomore album. LR is one of those rare cases where I choose the masterful sophomore album. Ye kicked it up a notch on production as well as his lyricism. High tempo tracks like "Touch the Sky" gave the album a sense of great energy. Dark tone tracks like "Drive Slow" gave the album that calm mood that balanced the album out perfectly. His funniest song ever is also on this album, "Gold Digger" with Jamie Foxx, still in Ray mode might I add. Ye has always been known as a lover of music and be versatile in the sounds he loves. That is apparent in LR with a heavy use of different instruments, especially on the tracks like "We Major" with Nas and "Celebration". The features on this album are better, and people will say Hov was the best feature, but I honestly think it's Paul Wall or Lupe. The skits are more hilarious than College Dropout. Now I think CD is a classic, but for some strange reason I skip tracks off that album. NO SKIPS FOR LATE REGISTRATION. I think it's Kanye's best work. From big stuff like the inspired production to small stuff like the skits and samples. I think when it's all said and done, people won't be talking about College or MBDTF as his best. They'll be talking about Late Registration. Kanye's most inspired work, production wise and lyrically speaking.

College Dropout hands down. I love Late Registration, but I relate a lot more to College Dropout simply because it resembles my train of thought. It covers online dating, religion, life in the retail workplace, material obsession, and the list goes on. None of these topics are anything new but the way he goes about exploring these is just nothing short of phenomenal. Spaceships, Get Em High, All Falls Down, and Two Words are among my favorites.

I lean towards College Dropout. Yes, some would argue that Late Registration is where Kanye perfected his craft of Kanyeishness. However, call me a hipster, but the less-than-perfect, rough around the edges feel of Ye on CD makes me place it over LR. It was the album which introduced us to Ye before he started to develop the YEEZUS complex we all know, love, and/or loathe.

It is a perfect album. There's the right amount of backpack, punchline, hippity-hop, and "Hotepism," to use a more recent term. The production was top-notch and explored new levels of hip-hop. I mean, there weren't many hip-hop albums at that time which were utilizing full-on orchestration. Plus, CD introduced a lot of artists to the mainstream.

What more could we ask for?

This was an easy choice to me, and I chose Late Registration. I think College Dropout is a classic as well, but I definitely skip some songs on there. Kanye was hungry lyrically on College Dropout, but musically it doesn't hold up to Late Registration. Late Registration is a great story, great production, great narrative and features some of my favorite Kanye tracks. It's like College Dropout was the coming of age story, where Late Registration was the elevation. "Celebration", "Late", "Gone", "Heard Em Say", "Addiction", "Drive Slow", etc... This is Kanye's best album period. Late Registration wins here. Classic.

What is your choice? Tell us below in the comments and join the conversation.



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