Kanye West may be one of the most sought after producers/artists to work with in the music biz, but at one point, he was just like any hungry up-and-comer, grinding trying to get placements for his beats.
A pair of old CDs recently hit the net, containing a slew of old Ye beats from around 2001, before he landed several tracks on Jay-Z’s album The Blueprint, helping him make a name for himself as a producer. On the album, he produced tracks like “Takeover,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love.”
The beat CD, released as a mixtape via The Hypemen, boasts 26 instrumentals made by the Chicago superstar himself, in his signature style from that time.
The CD was recently discovered in a storage bin in the garage of Jensen Karp, who previously went by the rap moniker Hot Karl during his stint as an artist on Interscope Records.
“I was stumbling through my garage, searching through old storage bins, when I came across some old beat CDs from my days as a signed Interscope rapper. I was shocked to find that two of them, both given to me in ’01, had the name Kanye West on them,” explained Karp.
Karp was given the collection of beats during the process of recording his debut album, which never dropped. At the time, Kanye was an unknown and was pitched to him as a hot up-and-comer.
“I remember Kanye being hyped to me as someone who had just worked with Beanie Sigel and was about to work with Ludacris, so I was obviously interested in this dude with a weird name,” Karp revealed.
After listening to a CD worth of Kanye beats, which ended up in a storage bin in his garage, Karp admits that he wasn’t “wasn’t exactly blown away”, but heard potential and asked for another. From there, he and Kanye hopped on the phone to see how they could work together.
“I got on the phone with Kanye that week and he played me some beats over the phone (that included ‘H to the Izzo’)” Karp explained. “I picked one song from that phone call and it ended up being one of the first label paychecks written with his name on it. (I also was the first person to rap his name in a song. Because ‘Kanye’ rhymed with ‘picante’).”
In a past interview with HipHop-Elements.com, Karp said he and Kanye became good friends at the time, spending a lot of time in the studio record for his Hot Karl debut.
“He didn’t even have a car yet. He took the subway. He wasn’t mailing any beats at that time. We actually became friends after that recording,” the former rapper explained. “When he came out to L.A., we’d go see movies and stuff. My manager, at the time, was trying to sign him to Capitol Records. Even when he wasn’t famous, and people didn’t want to hear that he was a rapper, Kanye was rapping 24/7.”
10 years after the productions were first given to him, Karp drops the old beat CDs online to share with the world and enjoy.
“These two beat CDs, now celebrating their 10 year anniversary and I believe the oldest Kanye beats ever released, are here for your enjoyment,” Karp said. “We wanted you to hear these, not just for the Kanye completist inside you, but for people to understand how far someone like Kanye has come. I distinctly remember him talking about rapping himself and hoping to break out of the box that was hip-hop.
“I think these two beat CDs show you where he came from, even if it doesn’t necessarily sound like ‘Kanye’ now,” he continued. “He kept at it and became the incredible producer he is today. I remember he even had to leave the studio sessions early, so he could make the last train back to his mom’s house. He’s come a long way, and I’m proud to have been around, even if for just a second at the start.”
The beat CD was released over at DJBooth.net, with another, second one with more Kanye Beats set to be leaked on Monday, April 4.