Every hip-hop legend has a starting point—a big-bang moment that put everyone on notice. Kanye West was already known as a talented producer in the early 2000s, but deep-down inside, he wanted much more. Waiting in the wings of a stacked Roc-A-Fella Records crew since 1999, 'Ye capitalized when it was finally his turn. That day came on Feb. 10, 2004, when he dropped his debut album, The College Dropout, on which Kanye established himself as not only a top-tier producer, but also a lyricist worthy of respect.

The College Dropout brings back vivid memories for many rap fans, as Kanye's subject matter spoke to a generation trying to find its way via higher education, dead-end jobs or otherwise. Kanye's honest perspectives on love, religion, materialism, family, oppression and perseverance truly resonated with the people in a way that few other projects had previously.

In addition to the bars, the album sonically represented the pinnacle of hip-hop's then-mounting sped-up soul sampling (often called "chipmunk soul," due to its pitched-up voices resembling the titular cartoon characters of Alvin & The Chipmunks). Samples by music legends like Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill and Marvin Gaye form the foundation of Kanye West's maiden album. Using a wide-spanning taste and a razor-sharp vision, Kanye West made a masterpiece.

In honor of The College Dropout's 15th anniversary, XXL chops up the album to reveal the samples that Mr. West sliced and diced to perfection.

"We Don't Care"
Sample: "I Just Wanna Stop" (1979)
Artist: The Jimmy Castor Bunch

"Graduation Day"
Sample: "Pomp and Circumstance - March No 1" (1901)
Artist: Edward Elgar

"All Falls Down" Featuring Syleena Johnson
Sample: "Mystery of Iniquity" (2002)
Artist: Lauryn Hill

"Spaceship" Featuring Consequence and GLC
Sample: "Distant Lover" (1979)
Artist: Marvin Gaye

"Jesus Walks"
Sample: "Walk With Me" (1997)
Artist: The Arc Choir

Sample: ""(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go" (1970)
Artist: Curtis Mayfield

"Never Let Me Down" Featuring Jay-Z and J. Ivy
Sample: "Maybe It's the Power of Love" (1980)
Artist: Blackjack


"Slow Jamz" Featuring Jamie Foxx and Twista
Sample: "A House Is Not A Home" (1981)
Artist: Luther Vandross

"School Spirit"
Sample: "Spirit In The Dark" (1970)
Artist: Aretha Franklin

"Two Words" Featuring Freeway, Mos Def and The Boys Choir of Harlem
Sample: "Peace and Love (Amani Na Mapenzi): Movement IV (Encounter)" (1970)
Artist: Mandrill

"Through the Wire"
Sample: "Through The Fire" (1984)
Artist: Chaka Khan

"Family Business"
Sample: "Fonky Thang, Diamon' Rang" (1972)
Artist: The Dells

"Last Call"
Sample: "Mr. Rockefeller" (1976)
Artist: Bette Midler

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