15. Kid Cudi, A Kid Named Cudi (2008)
Kid Cudi's first mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi was the perfect entrance into the hip-hop game. It was a strong enough compilation of tracks to gain the attention of Kanye West, land Cudi a spot on 808s and Heartbreaks, and get him signed to Universal.
The prevailing mood is melancholy, self-deprecating, emotional, and paranoid. On "Man on The Moon," which made it to Cudi's debut album, he introduces himself as someone who never gave a fuck about what anyone thought of him or his music—indeed, he still doesn't.
A potent blend of haunting lyrics, powerful beats, and rock-star lifestyle was woven throughout every track, every hook, every note. The samples were incredibly diverse—from Band of Horses' "The Funeral" to Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover." "Day N Nite" became a commercial success, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Cudi's career was off to races from there. Still, he never let his fame get in the way of his creativity, or let himself forget that Cleveland is the reason. —Lauren Nostro