The Albums: The College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005), Graduation (2007)
Long before challenging the expectations of fans and critics alike with the aggressive raps and jagged beats of Yeezus, Kanye West struggled to make audiences recognize that he was not only a star producer, but also a top-tier rapper. His first three albums made his status as a complete artist undeniable. With The College Dropout, West defined the stellar foundation of his style, mingling humorously conscious raps with an array of soulful beats that also managed to challenge convention. Late Registration exploded College Dropout's ideas to symphonic levels, expanding the production palette that spurred his rise to fame while still delivering massive hits and pushing boundaries. Seizing on the stadium impulses latent in his biggest songs, West crafted Graduation as a bold album full of anthems, a triumphant announcement of his ascension to the top of rap.