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Ten years since the awkward, quasi-suburban kid with the sweaters, bookbag and a major inferiority complex bum-rushed the rap game. Kanye West dropped his debut album, The College Dropout, on February 10th, 2004. The album, from an artist that no one thought would work as an artist, became a monster hit–the first of many for West.

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“Player’s Ball” changed the hip-hop landscape like only a handful of singles had before. In the same way that Run-D.M.C.’s “It’s Like That” announced the end of hip-hop’s first wave and the start of a new, more aggressive brand of rap; and in the same way that Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” put G-Funk and Death Row Records at the forefront of hip-hop visibility, “Player’s Ball” was the opening shot from a city that would soon become the center of hip-hop in the new millennium.

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