On this day, August 30, in hip-hop history…
2005: A year prior to the release of Late Registration, Kanye West had broke out in a big way with The College Dropout, his debut album, that managed to win fans and critics over with its combination of Kanye’s relatable everyman persona, humor and chipmunk soul-influenced rap beats. Despite his debut’s success, West wanted to flex his creative muscles and find a new sound for the album.
West recruited film composer, Jon Brion, best known for his work with Fiona Apple and the film, Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind, to his new project. The duo sought to incorporate new production techniques not seen in hip-hop. Late Registration use of intricate sampling techniques, string arrangements and diverse instrumentation were novel to hip-hop helping make Late Registration a breakthrough album.
The album was a commercial smash selling over 3.1 million copies including 860,000 in it’s first week of release. The album spawned five singles, “Touch The Sky”, “Diamonds Of Sierra Leone,” “Heard ‘Em Say,” “Drive Slow” and the Billboard number one hit, “Gold Digger.” Critically, the album is one of the most beloved of all-time featured on numerous yearly “Best-Of” lists in 2005 and named on many greatest albums of all-times list by various publications in the eight years since it’s release.