Mark Boland, Getty Images


The 2020 presidential election is over and done with, but Kanye West‘s presidential campaign is still facing scrutiny and possible legal action from the Federal Elections Commission for alleged improprieties.

On March 5, The Daily Beast published an investigative report into West’s Birthday Party Campaign, which has been reportedly eyed by the FEC for an abnormal number of complaints. “In five-plus years of doing this I’ve never come across something like this,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for government watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, about ’Ye’s campaign.null

Jennifer Bloom, mother of 16-year-old donor Ian Bloom, called West’s campaign “a scam.” Her son purchased $3,280 worth of Kanye 2020 merch with hopes of making a sizeable flip on the secondary market. He reportedly has not received a single item he purchased. “I don’t know what’s happening there,” Ian Bloom said. “I ordered like 20 hoodies off his campaign website, along with a lot of other people that I know. They said it would be three weeks, and after that I emailed the support team, and the email just wasn’t a thing.” He is still trying to dispute the charges with his credit card company.

There is also the issue of accepting campaign donations from minors, which is illegal. Students reportedly account for upwards of 1,200 of the West campaign’s 3,161 donations, with the contributing total being $349,160. “I can say with confidence that at least half of us in the group have to be still in high school,” Bloom added. Two other minors came forward, including 15-year-old Andres Zapata, who claimed he donated $1,300 in January but has yet to receive his items. Merch is no longer available on Kanye’s campaign site.null

XXL has reached out to Kanye West’s publicists and presidential campaign for comment.

Kanye confirmed last July that he was running for president in 2020, getting a late start on his already unfathomable run to become the POTUS. Things were shaky from the start with Kanye reportedly hiring and firing a 180-person campaign staff within a week of announcing his run. After reigniting his campaign in September of last year, he reportedly asked the unwed people on his staff to abstain from having sex.null

The rapper-aspiring politician struggled to get on ballots in several states and was even removed from the ballot in Illinois after it was discovered that 1,900 of the signatures his campaign allegedly obtained were invalid, prompting some to believe the FEC would launch an investigation into voter fraud.

Kanye raised $2 million from contributions from individuals and spent $12.4 million of his own money on his campaign, according to FEC data. He was strangely confident about his chances of winning. However, he only secured 60,000 total votes.

See the Best Debut Hip-Hop Albums of All Time

Shady Records / Aftermath Records / Interscope Records

50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’

The role of the underdog is one that’s been assumed by a number of rap acts, but few have owned it as well at the start of their careers as 50 Cent. The Queens rapper, whose career rose from the ashes after being shot nine times in 2000, reinvented himself with the release of his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, on Feb. 6, 2003.

The album, which arrived in the midst of Fif and G-Unit’s dominant mixtape run, was met with a seismic reception, debuting atop the Billboard 200 with over 872,000 copies sold in its first week of release. In addition to the chart-topping hits “In Da Club,”“21 Questions” featuring Nate Dogg and “P.I.M.P.,” GRODT caught the ears of the streets through tracks like “What Up Gangsta,” “Many Men (Wish Death)” and the Ja Rule/Murder Inc. diss track “Back Down.” Guest appearances from Eminem, Young Buck, Nate Dogg, G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, as well as production by Dr. Dre, Mike Elizondo, Sha Money XL, Mr. Porter, Rockwilder, Dirty Swift and Megahertz culminated in a street soundtrack with substance and plenty of bangers. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was the best-selling album of 2003, and serves as the ultimate blueprint for transitioning from a mixtape darling to a bona fide megastar.

Def Jam Records

Kanye West, The College Dropout

Kanye West shocked the world with his decision to become a full-fledged rap artist after he solidified himself as one of the premier beatsmiths in music with his production work on albums from Jay-Z and other A-List rap and R&B stars in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Music executives and peers were skeptical of his potential for widespread success. However, all of those doubts and preconceptions were shattered with the release of his debut album, The College Dropout, on Feb. 10, 2004.

Inspired by his own decision to forgo a college education to pursue a career in music, The College Dropout blurred the lines between the underground and the mainstream, with Kanye balancing his socially conscious content with a blatant embrace of the excess and lifestyle often associated with crossover rap acts. The result was an album that covered all bases, from the backpackers to the streets, and positioned Yeezy as the ultimate disrupt to the status quo.

The album, widely lauded as a classic, houses the seismic hits “Through the Wire,” “All Falls Down,” “Slow Jamz,” as well as the notable deep cuts “Spaceship,” “Never Let Me Down,” “Get Em’ High” and “Two Words.” The College Dropout, which was entirely produced by West, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, with appearances from Jay-Z, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Freeway, GLC, Consequence, Syleena Johnson, The Boys Choir of Harlem and J. Ivy.

Death Row Records

Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle

Before Eminem, 50 Cent, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, all legendary acts that were deemed phenoms, there was Snoop Doog, who, in 1993, was by far the most popular prospect in hip-hop history to have never dropped an album. Having stolen the show the previous year on Dr. Dre’s own solo debut LP, The Chronic, Snoop was considered one of the biggest stars in hip-hop, with the success of his debut solo album, Doggystyle, reaffirming his dominance.

Snoop locked in the largest first-week for a rap artist at that time when Doggystyle , released on Nov. 23, 1993, debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart with over 800,000 copies sold. The West Coast rapper captivated rap fans with an album replete with a murderer’s row of posse cuts and crossover singles. While “Gin & Juice,” “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?),” “Doggy Dogg World,” “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” and “Murder Was the Case” all kept Snoop’s laconic flow in heavy rotation, additional cuts like “Tha Shiznit,” “Gz and Hustlas” and “Pump Pump” helped round out the album, making it a cohesive offering with firepower from top to bottom.

Produced entirely by Dr. Dre, with guest spots from Tha Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg, Warren G, The Lady of Rage, RBX, Lil Malik, D.O.C., The Dramatics, and others, Doggystyle kicked down the door between gangsta rap and the mainstream for good, a testament to its legacy as a game-changer.

Death Row

Dr. Dre, The Chronic

Following his unceremonious departure from N.W.A and Ruthless Records, Dr. Dre cofounded Death Row Records in 1992, and unleashed his solo debut, The Chronic, the first album released on the label on Dec. 15, 1992. Named after a popular strain of marijuana, The Chronic helped establish the West Coast as the epicenter of hip-hop during the early 1990s.  Rap fans were introduced to acts like Snoop Dogg, Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg and Lady of Rage, among others.

Dre was able to lock down the airwaves alongside Snoop with “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. He also delivered the Eazy-E/Ruthless Records diss “Dre Day,” and the sublime banger “Let Me Ride.” The LP, which peaked at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200, also showed he was privy to the sign of the times in Black America with tracks like “The Day the Niggaz Took Over” and “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” touching on Black rage and despair. The Chronic has sold upwards of 5 million copies to date and remains the preeminent album in the pantheon of West Coast hip-hop.

4th & B’way Records

Eric B. & Rakim, Paid in Full

During hip-hop’s formative years, many rappers’ rhyming techniques were in their elementary stages, with artists like Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC and LL Cool J deploying a choppy, robotic-like flow on their records. However, Rakim‘s arrival on the scene marked a changing of the guard, as the Long Island, N.Y. rep, along with Queens-bred DJ Eric B., broke the mold with their debut album, Paid in Full, which was released on July 7, 1987.

Building on the style of rap’s pioneers, Rakim’s use of internal rhyme schemes made his stanzas more intricate and wordy, which, when matched with his fluid delivery, put him in a masterclass of his own as an MC. The album is comprised of some of the most beloved rap songs of the 1980s, including “Eric B. Is President,” “I Ain’t No Joke,” “I Know You Got Soul,” “Move the Crowd” and its title track. Paid in Full provided a soundtrack to the streets, with Eric B. and Rakim’s Dapper Dan-designed ’fits on the album’s artwork helping add to their mystique. This is a work of art that elevated the expectations of a true lyricist and DJ tag team.


Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt

While many rap artists’ debut albums on this list made a lasting impact out the gate, some, like Jay-Z‘s Reasonable Doubt took a little longer to get their just due and universal acclaim. Released on June 25, 1996, Reasonable Doubt came at a time when mafioso-inspired rap was all the rage, but Hov managed to push the envelope by creating songs that played off his own exploits as a major player in the drug-trafficking trade, setting it apart from other classics of the era.

The LP debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 chart, paling in comparison to other chart-topping releases. However, the masses just needed time to catch on to its greatness. Reasonable Doubt produced hit singles like the Foxy Brown-assisted “Ain’t No Nigga” and the Mary J. Blige duet “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” but is largely remembered for its slew of classic deep cuts, among them “Brooklyn’s Finest” featuring The Notorious B.I.G., “D’Evils,” “Can I Live” and the contemplating finale “Regrets.”

Boasting production by DJ Premier, Ski, Knobody and Clark Kent, and additional guest appearances from Memphis Bleek, Jaz-O, Sauce Money and vocalist Mecca, Reasonable Doubt has solidified a legacy for Jay-Z as being one of the greatest rap albums of all time, marking a masterful debut by the Jigga Man.

Atlantic Records

Lil’ Kim, Hard Core

After attaining his own success as a rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. paid it forward by brokering a deal for Junior M.A.F.I.A., a fledgling rap group comprised of his childhood friends from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Out of all the members, Lil’ Kim‘s star shined brightest. The pint-sized beauty turned Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s 1995 Conspiracy album into her own personal coming-out party.

With her buzz solidified, the self-proclaimed “Queen Bee” took the bull by the horns, unleashing her debut album, Hard Core, on Nov. 12, 1996. Executive produced by The Notorious B.I.G., who also appears on four songs from the album, Hard Core is revolutionary for flipping the script for women in hip-hop. Lil’ Kim takes agency over her own sexuality and plays up to her man-eating, provocateur persona throughout the 15-track LP.

“No Time” featuring Puff Daddy, “Big Momma Thing” featuring Jay-Z and Lil’ Cease, and “Not Tonite” featuring Jermaine Dupri are certified hits, and street bangers like “Queen Bitch” and “Drugs” play on the synergy between Lil’ Kim and Biggie. Hard Core was a critical and commercial success, debuting at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart with 78,000 copies sold in its first week.

Featuring production by an array of producers including Diddy, Carlos Broady, Jermaine Dupri, Minnesota, Nashiem Myrick, Prestige, Ski, Rashad Smith, Stevie J, Stretch Armstrong and others, Hard Core has sold over five million copies worldwide, and is remembered as a watershed moment for women in hip-hop.

Columbia Records

Nas, Illmatic

After recalling the time he earned a bid in hell for snuffing out a holy deity on Main Source’s 1991 posse cut, “Live at the Barbeque,” Nas was considered a prodigy and golden child within rap circles at that time. The hype around the teenager’s precocious lyricism helped ramp up the anticipation for his debut album, Illmatic, to levels unforeseen for a relative newcomer.

Hitting shelves and the streets on April 19, 1994, Illmatic was a marginal success commercially, initially stalling out at gold certification, but is considered a cultural masterpiece. The singles “The World Is Yours,” “One Love” and “Ain’t Hard to Tell” all gained traction, but it was visceral salvos like “N.Y. State of Mind,” the AZ-assisted “Life’s a Bitch” and “Memory Lane” that helped enhance the soundtrack of the local avenues and boulevards.

Illmatic is complete with an all-star production lineup including DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip and L.E.S.The LP may not have minted Nas as a bona fide superstar, but it did help shift the paradigm for what defined a wordsmith and is cited among the most influential rap albums of all time.

Priority Records

N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton

During the latter half of the 1980s, as rappers on the East Coast were dominating the landscape of hip-hop, artists out of the West Coast began making a splash by spotlighting the ongoing gang violence and police brutality in their communities in their music. Compton-bred rappers N.W.A were at the forefront of the pack.

The group, comprised of members Eazy-EIce CubeDr. DreMC Ren and DJ Yella, released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, on Aug. 8, 1988, which changed the way we look at and cover rap music forever. One of the first explicit rap albums to gain national recognition for its incendiary content, Straight Outta Compton was a huge success, becoming the first gangsta rap LP to earn a platinum certification from the RIAA in July of 1989.

The album’s title track, along with other songs like “Gangsta Gangsta,” “Express Yourself” and “Dopeman (Remix)” all became anthems, but the pinnacle of Straight Outta Compton comes in the form of “Fuck tha Police,” which continues to resonate with rap fans worldwide over 30 years after its release. This makes the album, which was added to the Library of Congress in 2017, one of the most important and influential first impressions from a rap act thus far.

Arista Records

OutKast, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

In 1994, at a time when regional biases continued to work against artists outside of the East and West coasts, OutKast threw down the gauntlet with their debut album, Southernplaylisticadillacmuzik. Sonically constructed by OutKast’s in-house production crew, Organized Noize, Southernplaylisticadillacmuzik paired down-home, live instrumentation with the advanced lyrical chops of ’Kast members André 3000 and Big Boi.

While other rap acts from the South had gained traction in previous years, few, if any, managed to garner the amount of fanfare and respect from their peers as OutKast did. Led by the surprise hit, “Player’s Ball,” Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, which was released on April 26, 1994, also gained recognition from singles like its funky title track, the Goodie Mob-assisted “Git Up, Git Out,” as well as fan favorites like “Call of da Wild,” “Crumblin’ Erb” and “D.E.E.P.”

Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, which peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard 200 chart and reached platinum certification, marked a new era for Southern hip-hop and is regarded as one of the pivotal long players of its time.

Virgin Records America

Scarface, Mr. Scarface Is Back

Houston rapper Scarface quickly became integral to Geto Boys’ success after he linked with the rap group in 1989. He put forth masterful performances on the group’s breakthrough album, Grip It! On That Other Level, as well as its eponymous follow-up a year later. By 1991, Scarface and Geto Boys were a national sensation, reaching their apex with We Can’t Be Stopped, which was backed by the smash single, “Minds Playing Tricks on Me.”

Having amassed a rabid fan base, who were clamoring for a solo effort from him, the Down South MC obliged later that same year, releasing his solo debut, Mr. Scarface Is Back, on Oct. 8, 1991. Produced by Crazy C and Scarface himself, Mr. Scarface Is Back established the Houston native as the first credible soloist from the South and helped place him in the pantheon of best overall MCs in the game. “Mr. Scarface” and “A Minute to Pray and a Second to Die” are some of the project’s stellar bangers. The album peaked at No. 51 on the Billboard 200 chart and was later certified gold by the RIAA.

Bad Boy Records

The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die

At a time when New York City rap fans were looking for a rap savior to contend against rap counterparts in the West, The Notorious B.I.G. proved to be the equalizer the public was looking for. Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album, was unleashed on Sept. 13, 1994, and established him as the biggest rap star to come out of Brooklyn since Big Daddy Kane the decade prior.

The radio-friendly singles “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” anchored the release, which achieved platinum success within months of its debut. Ready to Die positioned NYC as a hip-hop superpower once again. In addition to the hits, Ready to Die includes songs that present the acclaimed rapper’s life and times, including “Gimme the Loot,” “Everyday Struggle” and the cinematic outro “Suicidal Thoughts.”

Short on guest appearances (Method Man is the only rap artist featured), and production by Easy Mo Bee, Chucky Thompson, DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Bluez Brothers, Rashad Smith, Poke (of Trackmasters) and Darnell Scott, Ready to Die put the thoroughest borough back on the map and served as a blueprint for multiple generations of MCs.

Loud Records

Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

After enduring a failed label deal with Tommy Boy Records, RZA, along with cousins Ol’ Dirty Bastard and GZA, rounded up six of the fiercest MCs in Staten Island, N.Y. to form the rap group Wu-Tang Clan in 1992. Comprised of Method ManRaekwonGhostface KillahInspectah DeckU-GodMasta Killa and the three aforementioned rappers, the Wu-Tang Clan was unprecedented in terms of the sheer number of members involved in the group, let alone their music.

Steeped in the ethos of The Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, and complemented by the dialogue and action-packed samples lifted from the Kung-Fu flicks of their youth, the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was unlike anything music fans had heard before. The rambunctious posse cut “Protect Ya Neck” features the Wu members Enter the Wu-Tang welcoming listeners to the “slums of Shaolin” and informing the opps to “Brandish your weapon or get dropped to the canvas.”

The album arrived during a dismal period for NYC rap, and helped galvanize the five boroughs in the face of the expansion of rap in other regions. Powered by a succession of hit singles, including “Can It Be All So Simple,” “C.R.E.A.M.” and the Method Man solo cut “Method Man,” the staying power of the Enter the Wu-Tang LP can be credited to its deep cuts, as “Shame on a Nigga,” “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit” and “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber—Part II” are considered timeless on their own merit. Peaking at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 chart, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) would gradually climb to platinum status and plant the Wu-Tang Clan’s flag on firm, fertile soil.

Jive Records

UGK, Too Hard to Swallow

Rap duo UGK‘s road to success may have been a winding one, but before the group received national acclaim off the strength of albums like Ridin’ Dirty and blockbuster collaborations alongside Jay-Z (“Big Pimpin'”), they were unsung stalwarts, making music that would help shape the sound of Southern hip-hop for generations.

Bun B and Pimp C‘s debut album, Too Hard to Swallow, released on Nov. 10, 1992, would help spur the trend of coke rap in the region with songs like “Use Me Up,” “Pocket Full of Stones,” “Cocaine in the Back of the Ride” and “Feel Like I’m the One Who’s Doin’ Dope” giving a firsthand account of the drug trade.

Peaking at No. 37 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list, the initial reception of Too Hard to Swallow was tepid, but it has since been championed by a multitude of hip-hop heads and is often listed among the most impressive debuts to impact the game.

Tommy Boy Records

De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising

During the 1980s, as hip-hop was still finding its footing as a culture, the rap leaned heavily on the perspective of those born and bred in the slums, who spoke from the vantage point of your typical neighborhood brute, playboy, hustler or street philosopher. A trio of rappers from Long Island, N.Y., named De La Soul, and a prodigious producer named Prince Paul would join forces to create an alternative for the listeners who didn’t fit into any of those boxes with 3 Feet High and Rising, the group’s debut studio album.

On March 3, 1989, the LP showcased the three rappers as peaceful, quirky individuals with a zest for originality. 3 Feet High and Rising put De La on the rap radar in a major way with hits like “Me Myself and I,” “The Magic Number,” “Buddy” and “Eye Know,” which helped thrust the album atop Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

In addition to the singles, 3 Feet High and Rising set itself apart with its lengthy tracklist and being the first rap album to utilize skits. These aspects further played on their off-beat tendencies and every-man personas. Reaching platinum status, 3 Feet High and Rising was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, stamping it as a debut that is essential in broadening hip-hop’s scope.

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