Black Thought says Kanye West's transition from producer to MC was similar to J. Dilla's creative evolution.
Kanye's brilliance as an artist shouldn't be questioned, despite how questionable he might be these days. But even as he enter politics, he carries the same drive that got him the Roc A Fella chain and launched his career as a rapper after his success as a producer. In a recent interview with Stereogum, Black Thought, fresh off of the release of Streams Of Thoughts Vol. 3, detailed a few collaborations from his career including Talib Kweli's "Guerrilla Monsoon Rap" which also features Pharoah Monch and a young Kanye West.
"He was just hungry. He was about the business of showing people his potential as an artist and what he had already in the clip," Black Thought recounted, describing Kanye as someone who would always be hanging out in the studio. He explained that he witnessed 'Ye's evolution, from being someone he'd see in the studio grinding as a producer to transforming into a multi-talented artist. Thought even said 'Ye nearly followed the exact same steps as the late J. Dilla.
"I saw him evolve from someone who was a producer of tracks to someone who was also an MC," he continued. "I saw him follow in the footsteps of who I feel, to this day, was the greatest rapper/producer, J Dilla. J Dilla, he could sing and rap and play instruments just as well as he could program beats. I watched Kanye in real time evolve, following almost that same blueprint."
Thought recounted hearing early versions of "Hey Mama" and "Jesus Walks" after they finished recording "Guerrilla Monsoon Rap." He added that 'Ye was often just sitting in the studio, soaking game. A testament to his commitment to making that full crossover from a Roc-A-Fella producer to a household name.
"It was the usual cast of characters. With me, Kweli, and Pharoahe in the lab. 88-Keys would always be around, Kanye would always be around," Thought said. "Kanye would sometimes literally be a fly on the wall, and you could see his spongelike nature, just constantly learning and soaking up what was being said, what was being done. What I appreciate about the way he did it, was he made it his own. He was never a biter. He soaked up everything everyone did, but he put his own spin on it."