When he's not busy terrifying America and former Saturday Night Live cast members, West is either in the studio or on stage creating music that reaches far beyond traditional rap music. Matching the Bush-bashing controversy is his sophomore effort, Late Registration, a stunning collaborative effort with esoteric weirdo composer/producer Jon Brion. Best-known for his work with Fiona Apple, Brion was recruited by West to create a sound unfamiliar to hip-hop ears. Fans stormed record stores and bought 800,000 copies of the album in its first week on the shelves. It was certified platinum a week later.
West's knack for sonic innovations and uncharacteristic collaborations has earned him a wall of platinum plaques and put him in rap's upper echelon with Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Nelly, and mentor Jay-Z. Unlike these industry giants, however, the Louis Vuitton Don's lyrics are devoid of bitches, guns, and rims. He earned financial success and critical accolades anyway -- for his latest effort and for his debut, The College Dropout. Still, even with two classic albums, three Grammy Awards, and a mess of hits under his belt, a good percentage of this country's population will always consider West "the rapper who said that the president hates black people." For the rest of the country, though, West takes his show on the road.