A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
There's a lot of explicit music around that's meant to amuse, titillate, and/or offend. But THE COLLEGE DROPOUT, the debut offering from veteran rap producer Kanye West, is a different story. Here's an artist using strong imagery to make an intelligent and emotional statement about his world, with unflinching honesty, cynicism, and humor. This CD is unusual in that the "censored" version is better than the explicit original. The careful editing doesn't dilute the narrative flow of the lyrics; if anything, the messages are more powerful without the distraction of "those" words.
Is it any good?
Exquisite cameo performances by Jay-Z, Common, Mos Def, Twista, and especially the Harlem Boys Choir add to the mix. Buy the edited version, listen with your teens, and talk about everything under the sun. Kanye West delivers songs and skits that are musically interesting and also take on racism, the American educational system, and other contemporary political and social issues. The writing and performances are about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but the intensity works.