Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

“Tell me what it takes to be number one,” the hook begs on “Champion.” Well, just ask Mr. West. Honestly, Ye's latest solo album may be his most complete effort bar for bar. But this is also the album that made him hip-hop's leading man.

Think about it, Graduation had it all—an experimental Daft Punk-sampling hit record with “Stronger,” “Can't Tell Me Nothing,” which still basically functions as Kanye's mission statement, a synthed out banger that didn't need radio success to set it off in the club (“Flashing Lights”), and oh yeah, it even outsold 50 Cent when the Queens titan went head to head with Ye in a much-hyped release day battle. To put it plainly, Graduation made Kanye king. No cap and tassel needed. He took the crown.