Kanye West, more or less, graduated a decade ago. September 11, 2017, marks the 10th anniversary of Yeezy’s third studio album, Graduation, that completed the trilogy begun by The College Dropout (2004) and Late Registration (2005). It marks the beginning of the persona upon which he famously reflects on in 2016′s The Life of Pablo. It’s the album on which Kanye solidified who he was to the public. From the anthemic message of “Stronger” to the questionable one of “Drunk and Hot Girls,” Graduation is marked with West’s viewpoints about fame and success. It’s the album that made it possible for West to make 808s and Heartbreaks and the masterful My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West didn’t peak with Graduation, but he certainly became a legend because of it.
Since then, West has become an icon, both for his music and other professional endeavors as well as his personal life. Graduation is where that all began—the cockiness, the forward thinking, the everything. It’s Kanye, the car crash survivor at the top of his game. So, to celebrate its 10th birthday, let’s look back at Graduation’s entire lyrical archive and find the Kanye-isms that still ring true today. Because Kanye will say what Kanye says; we just have to make sense of it.