Kanye West might be buzzing after his VMAs speech on Sunday, the start of his Saint Pablo tour and his well-received video for “Fade,” but he also just celebrated 11 years since his album Late Registration was released. His sophomore effort was deemed a classic in some eyes (definitely mine, at least) and today I have 11 reasons why we still love Kanye West’s Late Registration.

1. The skits

Remember those? “Broke Phi Broke?” Kanye West’s creative genius didn’t just shine through his lyrics and beats, but he was able to weave those songs together through skits. The album contained four skits, some that I’ll even replay back, giving the album even more life.

2. We miss the old Kanye

Before Amber Rose, before Kim Kardashian, before he became Yeezus, we had an emcee who had just come off of dropping his debut album to critical acclaim. Lyrically, we had a more conscious Ye, but we weren’t without the braggadocio either. Through his production, we heard Ye bring evolution to the old school sound from the ’90s. At the same time, how many of us danced to “Gold Digger” at our Prom or Homecoming?

3. The celebration of family

“Hey Mama” and “Roses” showed us a softer Kanye who was unafraid to show love and praise for his family. There was something about him leaving all his emotions out on the table that struck a chord with many of us.

4. Confident Kanye

And although we’ve always gotten confident, outspoken Kanye, it was on Late Registration where we saw the beginnings of that confidence. Tracks such as “Touch the Sky” and “We Major” had Kanye not just shining but telling us that we can shine with him.

5. The samples

Hip-hop has always been sample heavy, but Kanye figured out new ways to take classic samples and turn them into our favorite tracks. Late Registration had Kanye sampling the likes of Otis Redding, Etta James, Ray Charles and many, many more classics and more obscure artists.

6. The music videos

Now before your head explodes (because the ever-crippling fear of growing older is killing you), Ye made at least five videos for the album, each one of them capturing a different vibe. From the cartoony and peaceful “Heard Em’ Say” to the trippy, smoke-filled video for the Paul Wall and GLC assisted “Drive Slow,” Ye was able to capture a sound and turn it into a visual you’ll never forget.

7. Lyrical Content

We heard it in “Jesus Walks” and we get it numerous times throughout Late Registration, Ye taking on important issues that others in radio rap avoided. Blood diamonds, different addictions and “crack music” are all topics he covered unapologetically. I’ll always thank Kanye for that.

8. Kanye’s always been a genius

Kanye has been professing his genius to us for years, not just now that he’s on a bigger stage. Late Registration was just one of our earliest introductions to the outspoken musings of Kanye West. From the production on the album itself to the overall cohesive idea of the trio of school-themed albums we got, Ye’s genius breaks through in many avenues — music is just one of them.

9. The guests

Fam, Kanye was able to put together a classic solo album AND still have enough fire from his friends to complete this masterpiece. Adam Levine (from Maroon 5), Nas, Common, Paul Wall, GLC, the list goes on and on. Let us not also forget that Kanye’s “Touch the Sky” was many people’s introduction to a brilliant emcee named Lupe Fiasco. On that same note, West created a wonderful anthem in “Gold Digger” with Jamie Foxx. I’ve made my case… and now I’m moving on.

10. Classic

Yup, I said it. Late Registration is a modern-day classic. Regardless of how you feel about Kanye West now, one can’t deny the sheer genius, creativity and power in this album. 19 tracks deep (more if you include bonus tracks) of classic material, no fillers, no gimmicks, just Kanye being Kanye and inspiring us to be great.

11. More To Come

This was only Kanye’s second outing and he was already showing promise of being one of the best hip-hop artists ever. Ye went on to have eight Grammy nominations for this album and ended up going home with three. Here we are, six albums later, hanging on Kanye’s every word and waiting for his next move. But we can’t deny that Late Registration was the perfect stepping point for the Chicago hero.

What’s your favorite track off of Late Registration? Let us know in the comments below!

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