“I remember I used to listen to hip hop on the radio when I was in the car with my mom and stuff, but the first time I really sat down and listened to an album, and was like, “this is my shit,” was fourth or fifth grade, when College Dropout came out.
“Kanye was just the shit. I’m a part of the generation that really experienced Kanye as more of an icon and a representative of Hip Hop, [rather] than [as] a newcomer. If you’re in a different generation, I wouldn’t really expect people to understand it, but that’s who I grew up listening to. That was what rap was to me. To a lot of people, I think, Kanye came into the game and did a lot of different shit that people weren’t used to. And people couldn’t really understand it necessarily.
“I remember I was at a lunch with my grandparents and mom, it was some place in Hyde Park. We were just sitting, and I used to have this little Walkman joint, the CD player, but it doubled as radio, because I had the juice, you feel me. And I was playing WGCI, and I think the first song they played was “Through The Wire.” And they were talking about the Chicago rapper, his album was just released. And I wasn’t really keyed into the radio, but when I heard that, it was just the soul sample, it was just the way he was rapping—his mouth was wired shut, but it was audible. I could really understand what he was saying, and understood the references. I felt like he was talking to me. And it was the different production. I was a kid, so that soul sample shit was easy for me to digest than some of the popularized shit then.
I was freaking out, I didn’t know what it was, but I thought that sh** was super dope. Listening to the radio all day that day trying to hear another Kanye song.
“I was freaking out, I didn’t know what it was, but I thought that shit was super dope. Listening to the radio all day that day trying to hear another Kanye song. And it was crazy. Within the same hour I want to say, they played “All Falls Down,” and they said who it was and I was instantly geeked about that shit. I remember begging my mom to get that shit. She would not get it for me, because she didn’t fuck with rap music.
“This chick I used to hold hands with in fourth grade, her mom got me College Dropout for my birthday on some “I’m not your mother but I’ll give you some shit”-type shit. But she gave me the CD, and I remember I had to hide it from my mom for a long-ass time, and eventually she made me throw it away and get the clean version. But it was some shit that I owned. Kanye is somebody, to me, that was telling me my story, about how much I hated school, and relating to me even though he was talking about a college experience when I was in fourth grade. The feeling of being rebellious and being different and the fact that it was some shit that was not allowed in my house made it sacred to me. It was my own CD so it was like I knew Kanye personally."