12 Years Ago Kanye West Released His Second Studio Album, ‘Late Registration’

After Riding the wave of his rebellious debut album, Kanye put his money where his mouth was on Late Registration investing two million dollars into the project. Critics pondered how Kanye West would follow up The College Dropout. Fresh off of Usher’s 2004 tour, Yeezy went back to work on his sophomore record.

Kanye had “Gold Digger” verses recorded before some of the records that made his freshman LP. Originally, the song was written from a woman’s perspective for Shawnna, who somehow ended up passing on the record, so Mr. West took things into his own hands. It wasn’t until Ye met British film composer Jon Brion that everything changed going forward. West took his profits and invested in lush orchestras and strings after being inspired by the trip-hop band, Portishead.

Jamis Foxx didn’t get involved with the future anthem “Gold Digger,” until Kanye saw him play Ray Charles in the film Ray. Initially Foxx was skeptical of West’s R&B aspirations, but was obviously proven wrong. You never question the vision of a creative genius. The track which was recorded at Ludacris’ home studio went to be West’s introduction to the world, as it topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts, giving the Chicago native his first number one hit.

Before cross-genre collaborating was popular, the ambitious musician enlisted Maroon 5’s Adam Levine for the tuneful opener “Heard ‘Em Say.” Levine would later use his lyrics on the band’s “Nothing Lasts Forever” record. If you’ve never seen the animated visual for this song you’re missing out.

“Hey Mama” is one of the most powerful tracks that will end up defining Kanye’s career, especially with what ended transpiring with Donda after he penned the record. It’s such an emotional song that he can’t even perform it on tour, and we all can understand why with the bond he had with his mother. His 2008 Grammy’s performance was one of the signature moments in hip-hop.

I could go on for days breaking down the 69-minutes of classic content provided by Kanye and an all-star lineup of features that included Chicago natives Common, Lupe Fiasco, Jay Z and Nas on back to back tracks at the peak of their beef, Cam’ron and The Game. Ye has a way of expressing himself in a funny way, but always keeping it real and that’s exuded in the four skits. I always enjoy coming back to the vintage Kanye that cemented himself in the hip-hop hall-of-fame. Give the 21-tracks a spin on the 12th year anniversary. Late Registration took home a Grammy for best rap album at the 2006 awards and is now certified triple platinum.

P.S. – Only Ye would go to Abbey Road Studios in London to perform and record a live 12-track compilation album in front of 300 people with a suit jacket on.