Kanye West plays Barclays Center Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It’s crazy to think that, as recently as a decade ago, there was a time when he wasn’t absolutely everywhere. And yet, even in those days, he was still lurking, just a bit beneath the surface. So here are five early Kanye clips you probably haven’t seen.
See also: Six Rare Early Jay-Z Appearances
Ludacris featuring Trina – “B.R. Right”
It seems strange now to imagine a world in which Kanye West is the first person to get off a bus? But before many people had heard him spit on a national level, he was producing hits like Ludacris and Trina’s “B.R. Right.” One of his best beats to this day, Kanye’s brief cameo gets funnier the bigger his star gets.
Infamous Syndicate featuring Kanye West – “What You Do To Me”
Remember that creepy funky track “Here I Go” from the soundtrack to The P.J.’s? No? It was by Chicago female duo Infamous Syndicate. Along with launching the career of future Disturbing the Peace member Shawnna, it gave us some of Kanye West’s first productions, as well as an early verse on “What You Do To Me.” This may be his first time on record speaking about himself in the third person, foreshadowing great grandeur to come.
The Madd Rapper featuring Eminem – “Stir Crazy” (produced by Kanye West)
D-Dot, the guy who produced Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” had a comedy alter-ego, Madd Rapper, who had an album on Columbia, Tell ‘Em Why U Mad, which features a song largely carried by Eminem that’s produced by Kanye West. Today, a track like that would cost millions. And that same album is also responsible for 50 Cent’s breakthrough single “How to Rob.” Yes, before they became icons, hip-hop’s three biggest names of the following decade all shared space on a novelty record.
The Verse That WOULD Have Been Kanye’s Big Time Debut
Before Kanye broke through on “Though the Wire” and “Slow Jamz,” this verse was intended for a coveted feature on a Jay-Z album. According to Kanye, it was cut due to “Stupid ass labels.” While his gift of melody is there, it’s interesting to hear the subtleties in his pre-car accident flow.
Don’t Label Kanye A Producer!
Once the wheels were in motion for Kanye to release his debut album in 2004, cameras started popping up in front of him, and reporters started asking him questions. This is an early glimpse of his competitive nature and desire to be the absolute be all and end all of everything ever.