8. Kanye West f/ Lupe Fiasco "Touch The Sky" (Verse 1)
Album: Late Registration
Kanye's journey from struggling producer/rapper to hip-hop superstar is well known, and nowhere is it summarized more succinctly, humorously, and skillfully than on the first verse of "Touch The Sky." In under a minute, Kanye manages to hit all the major points detailed in his famous story on "Last Call" while delivering more than enough clever lines to keep your attention.
From his forward-thinking style choices ("Back when they thought pink polos would hurt the Roc"), to his move from the Chi to the Tri-State area ("Me and my momma hopped in that U-Haul van/Any pessimists I ain't talk to them"), to his arrival at the hip-hop summit ("A hip-hop legend, think I died/In that accident, cause this must be heaven"), 'Ye's opening verse on his most celebratory of songs is his valedictory address. Of course, in classic Kanye fashion, it came before Graduation. —Max Goldberg