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“I Saw Him Follow in J Dilla’s Footsteps”: Black Thought on the Evolution of Kanye West

“I Saw Him Follow in J Dilla’s Footsteps”: Black Thought on the Evolution of Kanye West

Black Thought The Roots Performing
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.com

Black Thought spoke with Stereogum about recording with a young Kanye West.

Fresh off the release of his long-awaited Streams of ThoughtVol. 3, Black Thought recently spoke with Stereogum‘s Ryan Leas. The two spoke about his many collaborations over the years. One record, Talib Kweli’s “Guerilla Monsoon Rap” with Kanye West and Pharoahe Monch, came together right before West’s big break. Thought spoke about the record, and how far Kanye’s come since then.

“I saw him evolve from someone who just made beats,” Thought began, “to someone who was also an MC. I saw him follow in the footsteps of who I feel, to this day, was the greatest rapper/producer, J Dilla. [Dilla] could sing and rap and play instruments just as well as he could program beats. I watched Kanye in real time evolve, following almost that same blueprint.”

Thought described himself as consistently punctual in-studio, but around that time, Kanye would beat him to the punch. “I’d be like “what are you doing here?” he said. “[Kanye] was just hungry. He was about the business of showing people his potential as an artist and what he already had in the clip.”

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In the session for Kweli, Thought recalled Kanye playing the earliest iterations of “Jesus Walks” and “Hey Mama.” “I remember that session like it was yesterday,” he continued. “There were songs on Kanye’s first album that I heard years before they came out. I said “this is a timeless classic.” This is a song where, no matter when you put it out, it’s going to hit.”

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