Permanent Records: Kanye West’s sophomore album reinvents everything that made him great

Permanent Records is an ongoing closer look at the records that matter most.

In 2004, after toiling for years behind the scenes as an in-house producer at Roc-A-Fella Records, Kanye West made his grand entrance on the world stage. His debut album, The College Dropout, was buoyed by singles “Through The Wire,” “Slow Jamz,” and “Jesus Walks,” and it set a new tone and sound for all of hip-hop. A bar had been set—and then West obliterated it with his follow-up, Late Registration.

The College Dropout had been an unmitigated success. It sold over 400,000 copies in its first week, eventually reaching triple-platinum certification, charted two top 10 singles—including “Slow Jamz,” which went to No. 1—and it scored 10 Grammy nominations, winning the Best Rap Album award. And in the face of such extreme success, West decided to go even bigger.

To help him realize his …

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