21. Kanye West, Late Registration (2005)
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Never somebody to do things by halves, Kanye went all out in the creation of his second platter, recruiting a live string orchestra and an assist from Jon Brion, who had previously produced for Fiona Apple and composed the soundtrack for Eternal Sunshine For A Spotless Mind, amongst other projects.
Yeezy reportedly spent $2 million over the 12 months it took him to create Late Registration, but the gamble paid off in a major way when he landed his second No. 1 spot on Billboard and an international smash hit ("Gold Digger") in the process. With an all star guest list on board to assist the ever-developing MC skills of Mr. West, his ambition was finally matched by his resources for this triumphant celebration of success and hard work, all delivered with that trademark Kanye mixture of wide-eyed discovery and ridiculous arrogance that has endeared him to the world ever since he became a solo artist.