20. Kanye West, The College Dropout
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Release Date: 2/10/2004
In 2004, Kanye West broke the stereotypical image of the gangster rapper, inspired a new following of backpackers, paved the way for rappers like Lupe Fiasco and...fuck it. We know why this album is a masterpeice. Yes, The College Dropoutis great for those reasons, but what's even more interesting is just how Kanye was able to make those accomplishments. It takes a very specific type of confidence and focus to usher in a new era of cool.
Ye's debut saw his soul-inspired formula dominate the radio, the charts, and the playlists of hip-hop fans worldwide. It was socially-aware without being preachy, self-aware without being righteous, and catchy but never overly saccharine. Mr. West wasn't afraid to ruffle feathers either, as evident in his smash hit "Jesus Walks." The College Dropout was the blend of cojones and genius that helped define his career.