Only Kanye West would be bombastic enough to make the introduction to a mixtape both the THX sound and then, a clip from 106 & Park wishing him to get well soon after the car accident that inspired "Through the Wire." But that's Kanye West, even in 2003, when Get Well Soon came out. The tape was a showcase for 'Ye as a producer, sure—giving many people who didn't know better before the revelation that all those amazing beats are this guy—but moreover, a preview of what was to come on College Dropout, and generally from Kanye as a rapper.

By Kanye standards, it's modest (and again, Modest Kanye Standards are rhyming over Queen's "We Are the Champions," and dropping the live track of him announcing himself as the newest member of the Roc). But given the way most people remember where they where when they first heard it, anyone who listened to Get Well Soon before College Dropout dropped knows this as more than a warning shot, or the 'Ye tape with all the better versions of what would become Kanye staples (see the John Legend-infused "Home" and "Through the Wire," first released here in all of its mumbly, wired-jaw glory). It's a definitive announcement: 'Ye isn't coming, 'Ye's here, and he's here to stay for a while. —Foster Kamer