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  • Kanye West

    In an industry where rappers often become producers, Kanye West might be seen as a bit bass-ackwards. Rather than starting out in the mainstream of the industry as a rapper/musician, he earned his first applause as a producer, behind the scenes.

    It didn't start with him on the boards, though.

    Long before he was even old enough to earn big bucks, or (according to the parental advisory labels on every single major hip hop cd release) listen to the music, Kanye West was writing his own rhymes. In fact, he started in the third grade. Four years later, he began putting together tracks on his home computer.

    No I.D., the famous Chicago beat composer and producer for Common (going by Common Sense at the time), discovered Kanye a few years later.

    "[No I.D.] let me come to his crib, and Common had come over," he recalls. "[Common Sense's] 'Take It EZ' had just come out and I was like, 'Oh, sh--! I'm finnin' to get signed!' [No I.D. told me,] 'Yo, you need to sample off of records.' When I found that out, it was all over."

    Kanye started cranking out the hits for big-time artists in the studio, such as Jay-Z and Beanie Siegel, taking old school soul tracks and blending them into new soundscapes for hip hop. He moved to New York and put rap on the backburner while producing four tracks on Jay-Z's Blueprint, as well as tracks on every Roc-A-Fella release, including Cam'ron's current LP. He also turned out tracks for Talib Kweli, Nelly, Trina, Scarface, and Knoc-turn'al, just to name a few.

    "I was always rapping, and it just so happened that really phenomenal rappers started rapping over my beats before I got a chance to," West explains. "That put me in the classification of a producer, but I'm a rapper from the heart."

    The 25-year-old Chicago native stepped up to the plate with his latest album, The College Dropout, on which he finally gets to show his true colors as a rapper, rather than a producer, and has proved once again that he doesn't do anything half-assed.

    "I was always confident in myself that whatever I put my all into, I could do it," he says of stepping into the ring as a rapper. "I always believed in myself. When I had wack rhymes, I thought they was hot."

    He is joined on his debut album by Mos Def, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Scarface, and Freeway, proving that the props earned as a producer have carried over already into his career as a solo artist.

    "My job is to break down the barriers and show music is just music," he says. "On one hand, I've got a knowledge of my heritage; I got a pretty good background, I've been to school. But on the other hand, I like strippers. So do I not talk about strippers because I'm educated? Do I not talk about education because I like strippers? Nobody can pigeonhole me and determine what I talk about."

    From: http://www.angelfire.com/ill/eie

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