Single Review: Kanye West & Syleena Johnson “All Falls Down”

All Falls Down
Album: College Dropout
Year: 2004

As critics hailed him as the savior of hip hop, Kanye West chomped hungrily on the vast amounts praise. Then, he bit the critics’ hands for not calling him a God. A sample from his interview with “Critics listen to my album for five minutes and judge it, and I’m not supposed to say something? I’ve been working on this shit for my whole life. N****, you say something, I’m going to read your name and be like, ‘You have no idea what you’re doing. When you first wanted to write, didn’t you write because you loved music? Now you write to bring m************ down.’ Critics say, ‘I don’t want to act like a fan.’ Well, there still are fans. I’m a f****** fan. And I’m way more famous than any f***** writer.”

Roger Ebert. There’s a critic more famous than he is. West has no idea what he is talking about, either. He needs to realize critics aren’t his minions and have a job to do.

Sampling Lauryn Hill’s “Mystery of Inequity,” West talks about insecurities the well-off and hardworking people have. Syleena Johnson begins with the chorus, “Oh when it all, it all falls down/I’m telling you ohh, it all falls down”). In the compelling first verse, West raps about a young girl in college. She has no idea what she wants to do afterwards. Her major isn’t profitable. However, she’s still going to classes so she won’t disappoint her parents (“She has no idea what she’s doing in college/That major that she majored in don’t make no money/But she won’t drop out, her parents will look at her funny”). She’s making her through college gradually: she’s been a sophomore for three years and undecided about what she wants to do in life.

She’s paying her way by working at a hair salon (“Sophmore three years aint picked a career/She like fuck it, I’ll just stay down here and do hair/Cause that’s enough money to buy her a few pairs of new Airs”). She has a baby girl named Alexus, who is fatherless (“Cause her baby daddy don’t really care/She’s so precious with the peer pressure/Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexus (a Lexus)”) She bows to media pressue to look a certain way easily. (“She had hair so long that it looked like weave/Then she cut it all off now she look like Eve”).

Next verse, it would be assumed he would be talking about a wealthy character. He does. It’s him. He tells people he doesn’t know how to say half the designer names or really who they are but wears them to fit in (“That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches/Rollies and Pasha’s done drove me crazy/I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that versace!”). When he leaves his house, he makes sure to have a clean shirt on which advertises some team. (“And I can’t even go to the grocery store/Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team”). Good hygiene is not reserved for overhyped producers. Big deal, Kanye.

West then raps as though he invented the concept of materialism: “It seems we living the american dream/but the people highest up got the lowest self esteem/The prettiest people do the ugliest things/For the road to riches and diamond rings/We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us”).

In the third verse, he has an unrelated rant (“I say f*** the police, thats how I treat em”). Then, he continues with how materalism is wrong yet he buys into it. (“Cause I wanna be on 106 and Park pushing a Benz/I wanna act ballerific like it’s all terrific/I got a couple past due bills, I won’t get specific/I got a problem with spending before I get it/We all self conscious I’m just the first to admit it”).

West pats himself on the pack for feeling human. He may have flipped the cliche (admitting he wants the extravagance rather than bragging about it). But he isn’t different than any rapper out there who talks about how many women or cars he has


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