Today is the eighth anniversary of the release of Kanye West’s seminal debut album, The College Dropout. Eight years, 14 Grammy awards, and five straight platinum-plus solo albums later, Kanye is still creatively pushing hip-hop culture forward.
But it's interesting to look back and consider how simple Ye's intentions once where. Long before DONDA was plotting world domination, Yeezy just wanted to be the Gap like Banana Republic and Old Navy and connect the gangsta rappers with the conscious MCs. That's why on his debut he put the thoughtful Mos Def on the song with the gruff Freeway. The unlikely trio went HAM on one of Yeezy's illest beats ever and made the classic album cut, "Two Words."
We figured today was the perfect day to catch up with Philly Freezer to talk about The Making of Kanye West's "2 Words." Free spilled the beans on what it was like working on The College Dropout, what the song meant to his career, and what it was like being around a young Kanye West.
Interview by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
The Making of “Two Words”
“At the time, Roc-A-Fella was like a family environment. Me, Beans, Bleek, and State Property all worked together. Kanye would be in one room working on his beats, Just Blaze would be in another room working on some beats, Dipset might be in one room, and Jay might be in one room, depending on the day and time. It was a good time for us and for hip-hop. Steel sharpens steel, so everybody was just in there working and vibing off of each other’s music.
No one really respected Kanye as a rapper, because he was really good at making beats. People that were around him—and I won’t say names—were like, ‘Just make beats, dog.’ But I knew Kanye was talented because I had listened to some of his stuff. So when he asked me to get on the album, I said, ‘Hell yeah. Let’s do it.’
“I had already gotten Kanye to get on my album Philadelphia Freeway when he told me he had the perfect joint for me to get on. I knew the song would feature me, Ye and some other people, but I don’t remember if he told me Mos Def was going to be on it or not.
“When I heard the beat, I was excited. It was theatrical and big. I like beats that challenge my flow, and it was one of those tracks that made me want to go ham on it. So that’s what I did. I laid my verse for it at Baseline [Studios]. Then, he and Mos went in there and did their thing. When I heard the finished product, I thought, ‘Wow.’ I’ve been a fan of Mos Def’s, so it was good to work with him and Ye.
“When it was time to do the video, everyone shot their parts in different places. I was in Miami recording some records with Po Boy. So Kanye sent the video people down, and they captured my part of the video while I was there. Kanye and Mos Def did their parts somewhere else, but it all came together well.
“We performed that joint at a lot of different places. At the time, Ye would bring me out to perform. Everywhere he was at, I was there. When Super Bowl XL was in Detroit, we had a Super Bowl party with Pepsi and performed it there. We also did it on ‘Chappelle’s Show.’
“That was a really big record for me and my career. I perform that song to this day, at my shows. Everyone loves it.”
Kanye’s Personality At The Time
“Kanye always pushed the envelope. He always wanted to take it to the next level. He was humble and hardworking, but his attitude was, ‘I’ve got something to prove to the world.’
“No one really respected him as a rapper, because he was really good at making beats. People that were around him at the time—and I won’t say names—were like, ‘Just make beats, dog. Do that.’ But I knew Kanye was talented because I had listened to some of his stuff. So when he asked me to get on the album, I said, ‘Hell yeah. Let’s do it.’
“Even back then, he had pretty chicks around. He always had swag. He was always fly. I’m from Philly, so we had been wearing Polo, but Ye used to wear ’Lo and stuff, too. He was doing his thing way before he became a superstar.”