In 2011, a retired rapper found two beat CDs that Kanye West made him in 2001.
Brought to our attention this morning by Crack Magazine, Jensen Karp stumbled across the beat tapes while searching through his old storage bins and they’re believed to be the oldest Kanye beats available online. The co-founder of the Hypemen blog admits to not being particularly blown away by the “dude with a weird name”, but stuck with him and ended up being the first person to rap Kanye’s name in a song…only because it rhymed with “picante” though.
Karp also recalls how Kanye spoke about wanting to rap himself, and eventually “break out of the box that was hip-hop”. “He kept at it and became the incredible producer he is today”. That was back in 2011; it would be interesting to hear Karp’s thoughts on Kanye, circa 2015.
Stream CD1 here and download CD2 from DJ Booth. Read the full account from Karp below, quoted in Redefine Hype, back in 2011.
“Last week I was stumbling through my garage, searching through old storage bins when I came across some old beat CDs from my days as a signed rapper. I was shocked to find that two of them, both given to me in the year 2001, had the name ‘Kanye West’ on them. I remember Kanye being hyped to me as someone who had just worked with Beanie Sigel and was about to work with Ludacris, so I was obviously interested in this dude with a weird name. I popped in the CD and wasn’t exactly blown away to be honest. It was definitely good though, so I asked my manager for more beats from this Kanye character. I got a second beat CD and again couldn’t find anything to pick directly, but knew there was potential (keep in mind that 2001 was a mighty synth-y year). I got on the phone with Kanye that week and he played me some beats over the phone (that included “H to the Izzo”). I picked one song from that phone call and it ended up being one of the first label paychecks written with his name on it. (I also was the first person to rap his name in a song. Because ‘Kanye’ rhymed with ‘picante’).
These two beat CDs, now celebrating their 10 year anniversary and I believe the oldest Kanye beats ever released, are here for your enjoyment. We wanted you to hear these not just for the Kanye completist inside you, but for people to understand how far someone like Kanye has come. I distinctly remember him talking about rapping himself and hoping to break out of the box that was hip-hop. He told me how big of a Jim Morrison fan he was and how he wanted to sample something from him (that happened and hurt Nas bad), and even played me a song where he used only movie titles in the verses (that didn’t happen, which is good cause it was awkward). And I think these two beat CDs show you where he came from, even if it doesn’t necessarily sound like “Kanye” now. He kept at it and became the incredible producer he is today. I remember he even had to leave the studio sessions early, so he could make the last train back to his mom’s house. He’s come a long way, and I’m proud to have been around, even if for just a second at the start.”