Diamonds From Sierra Leone
Kanye West's second album is a big-budget sequel to The College Dropout. Working in tandem with ace producer/engineer Jon Brion, he rehashes the "college" theme a la skits by fake frat troupe "Broke Phi Broke" while polishing his pop-rap formula until it shines brilliantly. The selections range from chart hits "Heard 'Em Say" (where he opines, "I know that the government administers AIDS") and Jamie Foxx's Ray Charles homage on "Gold Digger," to deep cut gems like "Celebration" and "We Major." With hip-hop this good, it's hard to believe that West's best years were ahead of him.