"Lock yourself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers/That's a Different World like Cree Summers" —Kanye West
GLC: “When we were in New York, I told Kanye, 'I need you to make me a beat so I can be on the radio in Chicago.’ All I cared about at that time was Chicago. We going through samples, came across sample of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Distant Lover’ and he made the beat. That verse came from a pure place. Here I am, a guy from Chicago, I was young and I was hustling. I quit doing everything because Kanye was like, ‘You need to come out here to New York.’ I just put it all out on ‘Spaceship.’
“I had just got off the phone arguing with my ex-girlfriend, because I had told her, like, ‘Man, all these people saying they fuck with me. They liking the music.’ And she was like, ‘If all these people saying they fuck with you, why ain’t nobody sign you then?’ That’s where the whole line came from, ‘Why you ain’t signed?/Wasn’t my time.’ Like, leave me alone, shut up.
‘Spaceship’ was for one of those silly mixtapes that he was working on at the time. It was a GLC song but when he sent it to me I was like, ‘Yo, you gotta put that on your album man.’
“[I said, ‘Lost my momma/Lost my mind’] because I lost my mom when I was 12. After I lost my mom, two-and-a-half years later I lost myself. I had diabetes but I didn’t know. One day I had a blood sugar level over 800 and I went into a coma. I was pronounced legally dead. I was resurrected because I was resuscitated at the hospital. I was only 14, man.
“I recorded my verse at his crib in Hoboken, in a bedroom that we set up into a studio. Back then we didn’t even have Pro Tools. Remember on 'Keep The Receipt' he was like, ‘While niggas had Pro Tools, I had no tools/Karaoke machine, fuck it, I’m old school.’ Like, we was recording on a Roland VS 1680 in his bedroom.
“Before Kanye and Consequence had their verses on there, it was just my verse. Whenever Kanye would play his album for anybody he would always play ‘Spaceship’ first with just my verse.”
"Spaceship" samples Marvin Gaye's "Distant Lover" (1973)
Plain Pat: “‘Spaceship’ was for one of those silly mixtapes that he was working on at the time. It was a GLC song but when he sent it to me I was like, ‘Yo, you gotta put that on your album, man.’
GLC: “Kanye was like, ‘I know I told you this, but that shit got to go on my album.’ I was like, Cool, you signed to Def Jam; I’m signed to nobody. Let’s go.’ So I helped Kanye out with his verse, helped him out with the direction of it and getting it together.
“Kanye really worked at The Gap. He really didn’t like the job, but his mom was teaching him responsibility, like, ‘Look, you want to have a nice car, you want to do this and that, you got to be able to support yourself.’ He worked there for the summer and it kept him G’d up because we was wearing Gap clothes mixed with Polo.
Kanye really worked at The Gap. He really didn’t like the job, but his mom was teaching him responsibility like, ‘Look, you want to have a nice car, you want to do this and that, you got to be able to support yourself.’ —GLC
Consequence: “GLC wanted to do a record with Consequence. I didn’t know GLC at the time, but we had a conversation about it. He played me this joint and I was like, ‘Give me a copy of it. I’ma write to it.’ I did my verse at Kanye’s crib and then Kanye jumped on it. Then he was like he really wanted to use it for the album.
“A lot of people have told me it was one of their favorite verses on the album. People loved the whole scenario of me explaining being in Busta’s video because it was actual factual. It was an emotional, ‘this is where my life is,’ introspective verse. ‘Spaceship’ was like the people’s record. The verses are memorable and relatable. They’re easy to remember and say back because they're not super complicated flows and punchlines. It’s the blue-collar anthem of the album.”
Kanye West directed the unreleased video for "Spaceship," which GLC leaked in 2009.
GLC: “I remember meeting Cee Lo Green back in the day and he had just lost his mom and he was like, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’ I met Andre 3000 and he knew who I was. Jay Z even told me that I killed that shit. All these legendary, iconic-ass rappers were coming up to me talking about how I killed that shit. All this from me saying, ‘Yo, I need a record on radio in Chicago.’”
Tony Williams: “I didn’t even work on the album until the last two weeks. All my contributions happened in one weekend. I had worked with Kanye on one of my prior projects, but we’re two different types of artists.
‘Spaceship’ was like the people’s record. The verses are memorable and relatable, they’re easy to remember and say back because they're not super complicated flows and punchlines. It’s the blue collar anthem of the album. - Consequence
"Since we’re first cousins, we’ve spent the holidays together in Oklahoma City. The holidays would come, I would go to Oklahoma City, and my dad would pick up Kanye’s mom from the airport. During our rides back to the house, we’d play each other whatever we were working on at the time. He had been working on College Dropout for months at that point. It was two weeks left til the deadline. He played ‘Spaceship’ and I just started singing on top of the track. His first reaction was, ‘Stop! Rewind that. Do that again.’ I started doing the same riff and he was like, ‘That’s the vibe that I’ve really been trying to get on that song!’
“After Christmas, he was going back to L.A. to resume recording for the final two weeks before the album had to be turned in. He said 'I want you to come to L.A. and sing what you just did on this song.' The song was pretty much done. It was just missing the soulful vibe that Kanye was going for, so I added the icing on the cake. GLC and Consequence and those guys were like, ‘Man, thank you Tony for blessing the song.’ One thing led to another, and I ended up doing ‘I’ll Fly Away,’ ‘Lil Jimmy Skit,’ ‘School Spirit,’ and ‘Last Call.’”
"I'll Fly Away" is a cover of The Humbard Family's "I'll Fly Away"
Plain Pat: “The biggest [mistake I made during the process], or the one I’m most embarrassed about, the one that ‘Ye yelled at me so bad about, was the edited version of ‘Spaceship.’ When we made the clean version, the engineer fucked up the edit, so the whole verse was off beat.”