The reemergence of Kanye West into the social media, and pop culture stratosphere this week has predictably caused many heads to turn. His while he sent out his usual self-help-according-to-Kanye tweets, his thoughts on Donald Trump caused a stir. So of course, there were pleads from music pundits and (some) of his fanbase for the old Kanye to return.
But in reality, it’s less likely to happen. This means we must rely on his older songs and statements for the “old Kanye.” West’s 2004 hit “All Falls Down” will forever be linked to the West of old. The third single off his classic debut The College Dropout, West took his listeners to the task, examining his own insecurities in consumerism while also pointing out how African-Americans buy material items to mask their own insecurities.
We’ll buy a lot of clothes, but we don’t really need ’em
Things we buy to cover up what’s inside
‘Cause they made us hate ourself and love they wealth
That’s why shorty’s hollerin’, “Where the ballers at?”
Drug dealer buy Jordan, crackhead buy crack
And the white man get paid off of all of that
The track was built off a Lauryn Hill vocal and instrumentation sample from her 2002 song, “The Mystery of Iniquity.”
West used live instrumentation on “All Falls Down” with the acoustic guitar played by famed guitarist Ken Lewis. The record, although technically sampled due to Hill’s sampled portion of the song used as the song’s main melody, was a break away from the album’s sped-up sample-driven sound.
Kanye even used portions of the song on Def Poetry Jam as a poem titled “Self Conscious.” This title would later serve as the demo for “All Falls Down” on his Freshman Adjustment mixtape in 2003.
“All Falls Down” would peak at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while also grabbing a 2005 Grammy nod for Best Rap/Song Collaboration. The track served as a precursor for other socially conscious themes in his music, such as “Gold Digger,” “Crack Music” and “Addiction.”
West was always known to wild out, but at one point in time, his voice represented the people. Somewhere along the lines, things changed, which in the last year and a half caused others to question his mental stability. But his knowledge of how to manipulate the media is still sharp and West is quite aware of the stir he can make, which is why he’s stirring the pot. With his recent tweets, he may turn away potential listeners to his new projects. But Kanye will always be Kanye, and if he retired today, his legacy would still be cemented. Songs such as “All Falls Down” propelled his career and helped him break ground with his music direction for the years that followed.