"If this is your first time hearing this/You are about to experience, something so cold!" —Kanye West
Gee Roberson: “The original title was 'Drug Dealing' but were on the fence about that title. We wanted to go with a mainstream title. It wasn’t like a two second conversation either; that was a real conversation [about that title] but obviously we made the right choice.
“We used to be on high-alert—any beat that would come out of anyone’s session that was too crazy, it was like code red. That was one of those ones when he cooked it up, we immediately said, ‘That’s not being sold. You’re keeping that.’ [Laughs.]”
We used to be on high-alert—any beat that would come out of anyone’s session that was too crazy, it was like code red. That was one of those ones when he cooked it up, we immediately said, ‘That’s not being sold. You’re keeping that.’ —Gee Roberson
Hip Hop: “He was mixing Roc-A-Fella with what he was, but still speaking to Roc-A-Fella fans. Because his later albums don’t speak to them so much anymore. He was trying to find his way to blend the two worlds, to appeal to street people without doing it blatantly—these are conversations we had.”
Consequence: “It took a while for a guy like Kanye to write a song about hustling. He had to extract it—he got me to stop hustling. I was moving things in Queens and I got arrested. He kind of had that Puffy/Biggie talk with me like, ‘Yo man, you gotta put that shit down.’ He rapped from an outside-looking-in standpoint. Lines like, ‘Around the same time, Doe ran up in dude house.’ He had to gather that information because he wasn’t in the know. He’ll say it himself: he was never in the streets like that. So it was a collection of information that made sense for him to tell.”
"We Don't Care" samples The Jimmy Castor Bunch's "I Just Wanna Stop"(1979)
Coodie: “I used to do stand-up comedy in Chicago and Deray Davis was one of the guys that we were bringing up. Deray wound up moving to L.A. We needed a ride from the dentist's office, so he came and scooped us up. Kanye was like, ‘You gotta hear this song I did.’ This was when Kanye still had the wires in his mouth.
"Deray heard ‘Through The Wire’ and that’s when he said, ‘Without a arm I spit!’ So he started coming around more. Kanye really wanted Bernie Mac to do the intro. Bernie was like my mentor but Bernie couldn’t do it. So Deray came in."
Deray Davis: “I’d never done a skit or anything like that. I said, ‘Let me see if I can do a couple of things.’ So I did a British voice thing and he said, ‘That’s cool.’ I started doing other voices. Out of nowhere I did the closest Bernie Mac impersonation I could do, because I don’t really do impersonations, and that hit.
People on Twitter still be like, ‘Bernie Mac was great on Kanye’s album.’ And then someone will at me and say, ‘That’s actually Deray Davis.’ People will be like, ‘Oh, I never knew that!' —Deray Davis
“Kanye started pitching ideas at me while I was in the booth, but I just started to say whatever I wanted to say. He gave me the concept, like he wanted an intro that was a graduation and he wanted a teacher. I didn’t go to college at all so I didn’t know this shit. I just talked about what I thought I knew about college, which ended up being some good freestyling. It ended up making sense, because people who were in school were like, ‘We’re in college and we don’t know about any of this!’
“It was really informal. Kanye was just listening, watching, and laughing. I didn’t expect that much of it to be on the album. I never knew how big it was going to be. People on Twitter still be like, ‘Bernie Mac was great on Kanye’s album.’ And then someone will at me and say, ‘That’s actually Deray Davis.’ People will be like, ‘Oh, I never knew that!'"