My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album cover
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West

Roc-A-Fella Records

Kanye West’s magnum opus resulted from weeks of studio time in Honolulu, hive-minding with a gang load of producers whose ideas may or may not have been used (including Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, RZA and Madlib), and running up a $3 million tab. The result set the standard for the creative peak most wish Ye would revisit. “Monster” served as Nicki Minaj’s coronation, with a verse that topped Jay-Z’s. Runaway, a Kanye-directed 35-minute short film, gave us the album’s most indelible image: ballet dancers pirouetting around to “Runaway.” The album’s maximalist style even included five separate album covers.

Miles Marshall Lewis

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