Believe it or not, Kanye West was, at one point, Hip Hop’s biggest up-and-coming artist. Having secured a deal with Roc-A-Fella and releasing a debut album that blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, ‘Ye was emerging onto the tipping point of his career. Our favorite behind-the-scenes super-producer was stepping into the driver’s seat of his genre as one of Hip-Hop’s next renaissance men. Then in 2005, he treated his fans to the Freshmen Adjustment trilogy.
Polo-and-a-backpack Kanye had built up a library including original versions of his most famous verses, songs that didn’t make “The College Dropout”, and thrown-together freestyles/remixes over some of his best beats he initially gave to his peers. And the best part is there is no shortage of material: each tape boasts about 20 unique tracks consisting of originals, freestyles, live recordings, and remixes to some of the decade’s biggest rap hits.
For those Kanye fans who have been missing Kanye’s old soul sample style and playful rhymes, here is your antidote: three mixtapes of just that. The Freshmen Adjustment trilogy is a stylistic blast from the past and a nice breath of fresh air from the sonic ADHD that manifested on The Life of Pablo, the post-break up emotion we saw in 808s and Heartbreak, or the spastic, razor sharp aesthetic in Yeezus.
For those who wish “The College Dropout” had a couple extra tracks to enjoy, here’s 60 (yes, 60!) more.
Freshmen Adjustment 1:
Tape 1 contains some of the standout tracks in the series. West and his fans anticipated a lot of these tracks would end up on the College Dropout, especially since many of them were floating around at the time, including “My Way”, and the actual sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Master of Iniquity” in the original cut of “All Falls Down”. Most of the tracks on Freshmen Adjustment 1 boast some of the most simple and catchy hooks from Kanye’s career, like “Wow”. And let’s not forget some of his verses have a more light, verbally playful, and flow-focused sound, like the opening lines to “I Need To Know”:
I Need To Know
Out of Your Mind
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Freshmen Adjustment 2:
Tape 2 is where we see Kanye begin to stray from fully-original content, experimenting with rapping over a number of preexisting instrumentals, including DJ Premier-produced Jay Z track “Medley: Intro” in Kanye’s “A Million”. He takes a stab at his own production in “Girls Girls Girls”, and “Overreact” borrows the instrumental from our favorite NBA Street Volume 2 soundtrack staple: Erick Sermon and Redman’s “React”. In addition, Freshmen Adjustment 2 contains an original version of the John Ledgend feature in “I’m Good”, the song that inspired Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap hit “Good Ass Intro”
A Million (instrumental: “Medley: Intro”)
Excuse Me Miss Remix (feat. Jay Z)
My Girlfriend (instrumental: “’03 Bonnie and Clyde”)
Girls Girls Girls (instrumental: “Girls Girls Girls (Remix)”)
I Met Oprah
Together They’re Tens
Freshmen Adjustment 3:
The third tape features some rare remixes and live versions of our favorite Kanye songs, including his pre-release performance of “All Falls Down” in Los Angeles and his Saturday Night Live guest appearance with “Gold Digger”. Kanye threw down a freestyle over “Throw Some D’s”, recruited Jay Z to precede his own verse on the remix to Talib Kweli’s “Get By”, and squeezed a verse into Ghostface Killah and Ne-Yo’s hit, “Back Like That”.
Jesus Walks (Remix) Feat. Mase & Common
What You Do to Me Feat. Infamous Syndicate
U Know Feat. Whiteboy & B-Lo
Back Like that (Remix) Feat. Ghostface & Ne-Yo
Get by (Remix) Feat. Mos Def, Jay-Z, Busta & Talib