After Documentary and before Thug Motivation, it was Kanye Wests Late Registration that held Hip-Hops marvel. Bolstered by big single, Gold Digger, Kanyes follow-up became more like a follow-through on his seizure of the ears, eyes, and attitude of a culture.
As Gold Digger spun on Urban stations, Heard Em Say traveled to Pop radio, as records like Drive Slow dipped South, Crack Music ventured West, and Gone found solace on mix shows. The album was monumental in all possible ways, and certainly a crown jewel of 2005.
In looking back at the year now passed, AllHipHop.com and Kanye West revisit this album, this year, and this evolution in a star that will burn so brightly in years to come. Its Ye Day and everybodys celebrating!
AllHipHop.com: Youre at the top of our list for our Year End Review. I wanted to get your take on some things. How do you feel about how your album was received? Did you get what you were looking for? Was it more or less? Where you satisfied?
Kanye West: Yeah. It was all good. I was satisfied.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah I think you got the props you deserved. Do you think that people got it, so to speak?
Kanye West: Well, there's certain stuff that they didn't need to get. If you listen to an old Earth Wind & Fire joint, you just like it. It's like people didn't really need to know if it was real strings or just a sample. I know that I wanted to create more than just what was sampled. I'm able to do whatever I want with the music. That's hard to do with samples. So we still kept the artist sample with it, but it's still based off of pure Hip-Hop beats like, I Heard 'Em Say. We're just adding on to it. And it's something that we are very conscious about. Some people heard the concept of me working with Jon Brion, and they thought it was just going to be instruments everywhere - which there are, but we flip it and twist it. Take a record like "Gone", "Gold Digger" or "Heard Em Say". I feel those records are more simple then any record on the College Dropout - except for like School Spirit.
AllHipHop.com: Can you speak on the importance of Jon Brion and what he really brought to the table that some people may know that's different from College Dropout.
Kanye West: True musicianship, true know-how, he's the real thing. Different instruments used on the last album are more like Kenneth Cole, and this is more like Gucci. It's like almost there and it still makes a good outfit and you'll still have fun at the party. But I wanted to come with the official. The real life harpsichords.
AllHipHop.com: Can you explain the skits?
Kanye West: Well, it's a college concept. So I decided to focus on a bunch of broke dudes who decided to start their own fraternity. Which relates to being back in school.
AllHipHop.com: You have a seemingly love/hate relationship with the press. How do you feel about the press this year?
Kanye West: It's all good - just that random writers want to throw their little jabs here and there. Like why would you want to spend time in trying to find a flaw in me? What's the point in that?
AllHipHop.com: I feel like the press supports you quite a bit.
Kanye West: But then they always throw out, Well this song was the low of the album or blah blah blah. If Kanye had did this blah blah blah. " All this woulda, shoulda coulda. Well if that's how they feel, why don't they go make an album and do whatever they want to do. Cause I always said coulda, shoulda, woulda with peoples albums that I was working on - so what did I do? I turned around and made the College Dropout. And don't let me just outright diss the press, cause I do get good press too. But I just feel like I am to a point where there should be no bad press.
AllHipHop.com: What do you mean by that?
Kanye West: Because how about I don't make an album. Now what they gonna do? Okay, then shut the f**k up.
AllHipHop.com: But isn't all press good press?
Kanye West: Well, there always is a way to flip a negative into a positive. That's my whole point. Like people would say, "Oh, I love this album but I gave it an eight." - like The Source giving my album fours mics. Any album that...if you can walk up to a person on the street and they can quote a line from a song on an album that's not a single, that album should potentially be five mics. Obviously Young Jeezy has a five mic album, because it's apart of the culture right now, and it has impacted. My last to album impacted the culture. That's what I feel like is the bottom line. What was the impact, what changed [as a result of an album]?
AllHipHop.com: This album touched me in a lot of ways more so than College Dropout, I'm not sure why. But what are your views and how do you compare the to? Do you prefer one over the other?
Kanye West: I don't know. I know that I like "Last Call" better then "Celebration". And I like "We Don't Care" better then "Crack Music", and I like "Heard 'Em Say" more then most of the stuff on the last album.
AllHipHop.com: The politics of the album are deep too. Do you find it difficult to mix politics with theatrical entertainment? I mean everyone is very apathetic these days...
Kanye West: No. I don't touch on political stuff I think. It's more like social. I'm not political at all. I'm not political, I'm politically incorrect.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, and I don't want to get into that Bush situation, but after that incident happened we where just like "uh oh." Like, in our community, when Khalid Muhammad suddenly died of an apparent heart attack, people cried foul.
Kanye West: Like honestly, right now I was eating some chicken and I had chocked on this chicken bone right now people would never hear the end of it. I can have no honest death now. I can't go out in the street, trip and bump my head [because] would people saying "They put special government grease on the floor." If anything, they would want to try and keep me as safe as possible.
AllHipHop.com: Now check this out, in 2005, 50 Cent said that he made it possible for you to be successful. Care to comment on that?
Kanye West: Yeah that's my boy. People distort our comments because, people just don't speak honestly about a person. I could say a statement that...it's all in how you word something. I could say a statement like that about [Jay-Zs] Blueprint album that could come off differently or could be taken in the wrong way. But that doesn't mean thats reality. I don't have a problem with anybody. And even if a person has a problem with me I don't have a problem with them.
AllHipHop.com: Why is that?
Kanye West: Because that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to help people and to make people happy with my music and my words and to change peoples hearts and minds about a bunch of issues. Sometimes I'll get on TV and everybody is like "I agree with that." And it's other times I get on TV and viewers try to revoke my hood pass cause I could be saying something that is really right but if the masses don't agree with it. And my opinion isn't always the majority opinion, and then they will hold it against me. But the point is IM not scared to say. I'll just say hat I feel about it.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah I could see that. Do you have any regrets with the MTV special that you did with the comments about homophobia? Did you feel that any negativity came after that?
Kanye West: Yeah! A bunch of negativity came after that, but I have no regrets. That's probably the bravest thing that someone could do because that concept, because some people are so homophobic you can't even bring it up as an issue cause people automatically say "Youre a homo." Now it's two things. They think youre a homophobic and now they looking down on your because they think your a homo, because they are homophobic because you brought it up to people that are homophobic. It's one big circle. It's like a lose/ lose situation. But the whole thing is that I can't lose. People always talking about bragging and blah blah blah but that's the confident thing that someone can do and that's to go and speak loudly about something that's not popular opinion. People have to look at themselves and be like "Damn I do do that, I do discriminate." I don't have to be a homosexual to feel that it's not right to bash homosexuals. Look how f***ed up our mentality is. We feel like "if you gonna say something or speak on their behalf then you must be a homosexual." That's like going back to the 60's and somebody calling a white person a n***er lover.
AllHipHop.com: Lyrically, what was your approach this time? It seemed to me that you where more comfortable on the mic this time. And, in my opinion, it seems that you didn't write your rhymes down this time around.
Kanye West: I didn't write them down on the last either. I just learned how to rap better from going on tour and s**t. But I feel like there was incandescence to the older rhymes. I'm not that pressed to make a record like Diamonds anymore. I did that to prove [myself]. I wanted people to come off of saying I can't rap. I can do whatever I put my mind to. So Diamonds is dope, and has really great lines back to back to back. But there's no line in Diamonds that compares to Hey outside the emergency room room room/you can feel my heart beat beat beat/if she gon' pull through, we gon' find out soon, but right now she sleep sleep sleep. That's my favorite line. It's the simplicity. There's so many people that can rap, mixtape rap, rap rap, this that rap, rap, rap, rap. It's always good to be able to fall back on that, but you also want to be able to talk to people like how they really talk.
AllHipHop.com: Someone wanted me to tell you that you've taken bragging to a whole new level. Obviously it's a part of Hip-Hop, do you feel that way?
Kanye West: Aww man, have we? If so, that's good. I'm come from nothing to something - [and] that, I can brag about.