Why Was There a Censored Song on the “Parental Warning – Explicit Content” Kanye West Album College Dropout?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: “School Spirit” had to be censored for Aretha Franklin to agree to allow her song to be sampled on the track.

Like many rap albums, College Dropout was released in a “Clean” version and a “Parental Warning – Explicit Content” version. The former had the profanity of the album censored while the latter obviously did not.

However, there was a curiosity on the album. On BOTH versions of the album, the song “School Spirit” was censored…

As you would imagine, this confused people a lot. It is weird to buy an album that specifically warns about explicit content and then have a song be censored on it.

As it turns out, it had to do with a song that was sampled on the track.

“School Spirit” sampled Aretha’s Franklin “Spirit in the Dark”…

off of her underrated 1970 classic album of the same name…

Franklin would only clear the use of the sample if West agreed that the song would be clean, which is why the song is censored on both versions of the album.

Eventually West came out with a uncensored version when the album had a special iTunes release. I don’t know what changed with his arrangement with Franklin. In the ensuing period he did become one of the biggest rappers in the world (and West and Franklin had worked together on songs in the meantime) so perhaps she was more willing to accommodate him this time around.

The legend is..

STATUS: True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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