(AllHipHop Feature) Today (February 10) marks the 10 year anniversary of Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout. Over the decade since Kanye dropped his groundbreaking LP, the Chicago artist has repeatedly been involved in some of the most memorable moments in pop culture history.
AllHipHop.com is taking a look back at 10 times the outspoken emcee/producer kept his name on everybody’s lips with controversial statements, noteworthy music releases, and epic performances.
Ten years ago today we finally released what had been my life’s work up to that point: The College Dropout.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 10, 2014
“Jesus Walks” Is Released As A Single (2004)
“If I talk about God my record won’t get played, huh?” asked Kanye West on his 2004 single “Jesus Walks.” The idea of a Hip Hop star’s song that confesses his love for Jesus becoming a radio hit seemed implausible, but Kanye has always strived to take music places it has never been before. Even though “Jesus Walks” was the fourth single from The College Dropout, in many ways it was that track and its three separate videos that elevated Kanye into the superstar stratosphere.
Ye Calls Out President Bush On Live TV (2005)
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Those seven words expressed during NBC’s live Hurricane Katrina relief telecast left fellow speaker Mike Myers and most of Middle America stunned the rapper would imply President Bush’s delayed response to helping the victims of Katrina was racially motivated. While there were many who agreed with Kanye’s sentiment, he eventually apologized telling The Today Show’s Matt Lauer in 2010, “I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist.”
Rolling Stone Cover Causes Controversy (2006)
Kanye has never been afraid to incorporate religious imagery into his brand. When the Def Jam artist appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine wearing a crown of thorns with the headline “The Passion of Kanye West,” some felt he went too far. Even Kanye acknowledged that the choice to appear as Jesus on the publication affected his potential business deals. “First it was what I said on the telethon, then the Rolling Stone cover sealed it,” said Kanye. “I can’t even get endorsements now — the ones that might have been open to me when I was just a cute kid in a Polo.”
Graduation vs. Curtis (2007)
It was billed as the record sales battle of the century. On one side was the Polo shirt wearing, Louis Vuitton bag carrying Kanye West. On the other side was the former drug dealing, über gangsta persona of 50 Cent. For weeks the build up to the same-day release of Kanye’s Graduation and 50’s Curtis consumed Hip Hop media. In the end, Ye’s third album outsold 50’s third album in their opening week – 957,000 to 691,000. The win for Kanye effectively ushered in the “hipster rap” era and pushed street rap out of the mainstream for many years.
Heartbroken Yeezy Debuts At MTV Video Music Awards (2008)
For every album, Kanye West reinvents his sound. Perhaps the most shocking reintroduction came with 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak. Kanye took a turn away from rapping and decided to tackle singing with the use of the popular Auto-Tune technique. The first presentation of Ye’s new musical approach was at the MTV Video Music Awards that year when he performed 808′s lead single “Love Lockdown.” The reactions to the performance were mixed, but Ye did achieve his goal of piquing people’s interest in what his fourth album would sound like.
Yo Taylor, I’m Gonna Let You Finish, But… (2009)
Besides his critically acclaimed discography of music, Kanye’s interruption at the 2009 VMA’s will likely be what he is most remembered for. Not one to ever hold his tongue about outcomes at award shows, Kanye felt someone had to speak out on Beyoncé getting snubbed for the Best Female Video. Only Ye decided to take action right on stage as winner Taylor Swift accepted the award. The incident blew up with the media casting Kanye as a bully, but the ordeal seemed to turned out as a plus for Swift. Her 2008 album Fearless opened with sales of around 592,000 copies. Her 2010 album Speak Now opened with sales around 1,047,000 copies.
G.O.O.D. Friday Becomes A Weekly Celebration (2010)
After the Taylor Swift incident Kanye took a sabbatical from public life. He finally returned full-time to music in the fall of 2010. Instead of dropping a mixtape or a full album to mark his comeback, Kanye released a free track a week as part of his G.O.O.D. Friday giveaways. Some of the tracks included future My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cuts like “Monster” and “Devil in a New Dress” as well as GF exclusives like “Lord Lord Lord” and “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” The series ended with the posse cut “Christmas in Harlem” featuring Cyhi the Prynce, Teyana Taylor, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Vado, Pusha T, Musiq Soulchild, and Big Sean.
Kanye Takes Over Coachella (2011)
When Kanye West was tapped as a headliner for the 2011 edition of the Coachella Music Festival expectations were high. Ye had just released his magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he was following the successful appearance of musical partner Jay Z’s headlining set at Coachella 2010, and he was still having to live down his disastrous Bonnaroo festival performance from ’08. Even with the pressure, Kanye did not disappoint. His 2011 Coachella show was hailed as brilliant as the Hip Hop maestro claimed his spot amongst the greatest live performers in music.
Mr. West Presents His Softer Side With Kris Jenner (2013)
Going off some press headlines it would appear that Kanye West is just an angry egomaniac who represents everything that is wrong with celebrities. Kanye tried to counteract that impression when he appeared on his future mother-in-law’s talk show last August. Ultimately, it was not what Ye said during the sit down with Kardashian clan matriarch Kris Jenner that a lot of watchers noticed. It was his “new voice” that caught people off guard. Gone was the brazen Kanye presented during his many concert rants. In came the code-switching Kanye that talked about his love for his family and new-born daughter.
“You Ain’t Got The Answers Sway!” (2013)
As 2013 wound down, Kanye West conducted numerous interviews in support of his Yeezus tour. Kanye gave the internet quotables for days throughout the media blitz, but one statement reigned over all others. While speaking with Sway Calloway on his Shade 45 radio show, Ye provided perhaps the Hip Hop quote of the year when he let Sway know “you ain’t got the answers.” The statement become an instant classic internet meme. The Sway In The Morning interview also produced another moment that has sustained a long shelf life when Kanye addressed Calloway’s attempted fashion line by telling him “it ain’t Ralph though.”