40. Kanye West, 'Late Registration'
The College Dropout introduced the world to a polo-shirt-wearing preppy who merged backpack-rap politics and bling-rap materialism. But it was on Late Registration that Kanye really started showing off, calling in L.A. pop geek Jon Brion to co-produce an album that ranged from triumphal autobiography ("Touch the Sky") to witty club pop ("Gold Digger") to heartstring-tuggers ("Hey Mama"), packing in Chinese bells, James Bond themes and Houston hip-hop. The end result was a near-perfect album that remade the pop landscape in Kanye's own oddball image.
• Rolling Stone's Original 2005 Review