He came up from the not so mean middle class Chicago suburban streets training under the very slept on No ID, before finding his way out East slaving via ghost production for bad boy super producer turned Madd Rapper D-Dot, before finally starting a chimpunk sample based production movement on Jay-Z’s certified overrated classic “The Blueprint”, but rather riding that wave of sucess to pop studio superstardom he linked up with the post native tounges bohemian faction, just long enough to lace Talib Kweli & Mos Def with a few beats each (plus he even goes and gets a third degree tribe called quest nod of approval by way of linking up with never-has-been and q-tip’s cousin Consequence). Then he shocks the world with the “wait… I’ve been an emcee all a long” scooby doo style mask (and heads who bought the god awful debut album from Chicago girl rapper group Infamous Syndicate can attest to the fact that Kanye was in fact rapping five years ago) signs with the Roc (but don’t worry, “he wasn’t talking about ‘cane or birds, it was more like SPOKEN WORD“). Add a near death experience, a Jay-Z retirement, hit productions for acts like Ludacris & Alicia Keys, and a 50 Cent style working of the mixtape circut (even if it’s essentially the same mixtape with different packaging every time) and you’ve got the most anticipated unproven rapper since Canibus. And when the Roc wasn’t giving him the shine he needed, he did what any other self respecting underground hero would – he donned his gucci backpack and FINANCED THE VIDEO HIMSELF! And of course, the song was ABOUT his near death experience, so not even an obvious Chaka Khan sample that would’ve had all the backpackers up in arms had puffy flipped it eight years ago could throw the song off course. And he hooked up with his hometown hero Twista to make a song that was smooth enough for the ladies to think it’s a smooth jam and tounge-in-cheek enough so that the hard rocks and nerds can think they’re making fun of the ladies who like slow jams.
Dude’s got all his angles covered – hometown, backpackers, headwraps, gangstas, pop stars (look for a beat on the britney spears album). In fact it’s a little too perfect – a cross polinated marketing campaign for a rapper who, by all accounts, isn’t that great at rapping.
I’d love to think that Kanye is entirely genuine in this approach. The idea of a die hard hip hop head who found his way into a hot thug oriented hip hop label using nothing but heart (like that little dude from captain planet). Just claiming that he wants to make a “Midnight Marauders” for the ’04 has got the native tounge nerd in me foaming at the mouth.
Still there’s the cynical side that pictures Dame Dash tightly gripping a bottle of Armadale coniving the best angle to hit the world with a new mecha-backpacker/party starter that can somehow cross the ever alienated territory between the two fan bases. Did Kanye work the system or is The Roc has been subtley ushering in a half concious rapper rennisance once they figured out that Beans was too gangsta to push outside a niche audience and no one was anticipating albums from pretty boy thugs like Peedi Crakk & Memph Bleek?
What’s my point? I’m not really sure, I’m just sick of seeing this guys name everywhere before he’s even remotely established. Will the album live up to the hype? Early bootlegs have me saying ‘no’, but I’ll wait until the full version to pass judgement. It does get a nod for having a dope cover.
PS: I think the far more interesting dichatomous mc/producer of the moment is David Banner, who still hasn’t gotten the shine for being a god fearing, dick waving, political pimp in a backpack on twenty inch rims. The fact that people are sleeping on him could be a product of the ever present NY-centric hip hop bias – even though Kanye’s from the Chi, his production and to a lesser extent rhyme style, are deeply rooted in traditional NY boom bap, Banner on the other hand is nothing but full on mississippi crunk (although both rep their area hard)
PPS: If Kanye suceeds in bringing Common back from the dark side of erykah badu’s vagina, like he’s been threatning, then he’ll have won me over ten fold.