September 11th, 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of both 50 Cent‘s third studio album Curtis and Kanye West‘s third studio album Graduation. The albums were a watershed moment in both hip hop and music history: it was only the second time since 1991, when SoundScan began recording it, that two albums sold more than 600,000 in its opening week (Curtis sold 691,000 copies, while Graduation sold 957,000). It also, albeit temporarily, staved off several years of slumping music sales as well.
In celebration of its decennial anniversary, Pitchfork has put together this “Liner Notes” video breaking down both the composition and impact of Graduation. The album featured a noticeable shift in Kanye’s then-sound, which at that point had relied somewhat heavily on sped-up samples, as he began to tinker with more electronic sonics (as evidenced on singles like “Flashing Lights” and “Stronger”). The result was what many consider to be Kanye’s most “street” album, and one of his most successful solo projects to date.