Modesty has never become Kanye West. And although Barack Obama considers the Chicago rapper/producer a 'jackass', he's undoubtedly hip-hop's greatest success story of the 00s. Long before he became known for disrupting award ceremonies and cutting George Bush down to size on live TV, West was a budding Chicago producer – learning the ropes from No ID and working with Bad Boy's Deric 'D-Dot' Angelettie before his beats on Jay-Z's landmark set The Blueprint (2001) got him noticed. Versatile work for Nas, Trina, Scarface, Talib Kweli and on Blueprint 2 the following year proved it was no fluke, West signing to Roc-A-Fella Records but nearly dying in a car accident before he could finish debut The College Dropout (2004). With his wired jaw fractured in three places, West still managed to vocalise the pitched-up 'Through The Wire', the first of five singles to cement his popularity. He was confident enough to follow it up swiftly with Late Registration (2005), the deeper rhymes of efforts like Diamonds From Sierra Leone matched by full string arrangements from Jon Brion. Yet its unqualified success failed to dent his hunger, West continuing his hefty production schedule (working with The Game, Mariah Carey, Common and Paul Wall in the same year), although by his own exacting standards Graduation (2007) arrived late, yet thanks to an interpolation of Daft Punk (on lead single Stronger) with no less fanfare. 2008's minimal, post break-up set 808s & Heatbreak was certainly his bravest yet, West abandoning rap to croon lovelorn hymns through Auto-Tune over his most minimal, coldest beats yet. Oddly, confusingly moving, it took on added poignancy when his beloved mother died from plastic surgery complications mere weeks before its release.