There was no other rapper like Lupe Fiasco making this much of a splash in the mainstream in 2006. Here was this bookish kid from the ’hood who could rap circles around Jay-Z and had the gall to pose with trinkets — a Wee Ninja doll, a Nintendo DS, a copy of the Quran, a copy of his first Fahrenheit 1/15 mixtape, a toy robot — on the cover for his debut. He may have been an anachronism in his time, but looking back, it’s easy to see how he laid the groundwork for other high-minded emcees with crossover potential.

There’s moments of brilliance packed into every Lupe Fiasco album, but the equilibrium of Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor has been difficult for him to recreate. To this day, it remains the most potent and well-balanced of Lupe’s work, a case of the corner boy and the scholar living in an otherworldly talented rapper’s brain working in perfect harmony.