In a new interview with The Coda Collection, Lupe Fiasco recalled a time in which L.A. Reid advised Kanye West to stay behind the scenes as a producer instead of segueing from that position into rapping. Consider this one of those alternate reality scenarios.
In the interview, which was conduced by Andrew Barber of Fake Shore Drive, Fiasco remembered a pre-fame West, and said that seeing his fellow Chicago rapper struggle is why he’ll always be in his corner. He says that he and West first crossed paths in 2000, shortly after Kanye served as the producer for Beanie Sigel’s debut album “The Truth,” which also marked West’s first credit for the Roc-A-Fella label. In that same time period Lupe says that West would visit him to get his two cents on verses, and would also serve as a producer for some of his (meaning Lupe’s) songs.
Shortly after that he provided the anecdote about the advice that would’ve absolutely altered music history had it been heeded.
“We brought ‘Ye into Arista to showcase for L.A. Reid before Roc-A-Fella. Stack Bundles was sitting there… imagine it’s me, Stack Bundles, Kanye, and L.A. Reid in the office,” Lupe said. “When [Kanye] stopped [rapping], L.A. was like, ‘Yo you should stick to making music, stick to making beats.’ So that’s why I always honor Ye, no matter how crazy he goes. I’ve seen that man struggle.”
In the same interview Lupe said there was a point where he was set to sign to Roc-A-Fella before Kanye was.
As for how things actually worked out, Kanye’s career exploded in 2004 with the release of The College Dropout, and then sustained tons of momentum with Late Registration in 2005. Since then lots of other stuff has happened in his life that isn’t really necessary to sum up here. As for Lupe, he got featured on the latter aforementioned album via “Touch the Sky,” and then put out his own debut album in 2006.
Anyway not Reid’s greatest call, but the way things ended up rendered it immaterial.
You can watch the whole interview, which has been broken up pretty conveniently into eight parts, here.
And you can also watch Lupe talk about that string of Kanye-related events here (around 0:32):