« Dissect

S2E1 – Kanye West: The Elephant in the Room

2017-08-01

We begin our season-long examination of Kanye West‘s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with a brief look into Kanye's childhood and his rise to stardom.

Follow Dissect on social media @dissectpodcast. Purchase Dissect merch at dissectpodcast.com.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to dissect long for musical analysis broken into short digestible episodes. I'm your host call on September, third, two thousand nine hundred and fifteen, I can sequence of events alter the trajectory of contemporary popular music forever no Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'm let you finish, but Beyonc had one of the best videos of all time when are the best videos, old town, sick of hearing this too, but there's really no, avoiding it. Significance now permit play embedded in pop culture, infamy Kanye West
an interruption of Taylor, Swift's acceptance speech at the two thousand and nine MTV music video awards, because torrential we discussed across the globe. Connie was instantly vilified. The nightfall when the Vma incident Kanye appeared on Jay Leno's tonight show to apologize. When then bring. Kanye's mother Donda, who unexpectedly died. Two years prior Connie is visibly and audibly shaken let I was fortunate enough. Meet your mom and talk with your mom a number of years ago. What I think she would have said about this hum Would she be disappointed in this which he give you a lecture yeah
you know. Obviously you know I deal with her an you know. How many celebrities they never take the time off and I have never taken the time off to really you know I just music, using interactive tour, and I just a shame that my her calls You know someone else is hurt. My my name of what award shows were supposed to be because you know, and the I don't try to justify Because I was just in the wrong, that's fair, but I need after this take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest, This life I'm going to improve and because I am a celebrity and something I have to deal with and. Later Connie would write in all caps pseudo apology on his blog in it. He says I'm so sorry to Taylor, Swift and our fans and her mom and later quote she's very talented. I like lyrics about being a cheerleader and she's in the bleachers. still, he says quote
video was the best of the decade. Many took the APOLLO to be backhanded and based Connie would say about the incident years later. It would, to be an accurate assessment, coneys Ology seem less about regret and more of an a to get back into the public's good graces, but the world was not ready to forgive Connie West. The VA a incident inflated into a global spectacle, liberties and musicians publicly lashed out at him above seemingly every late night talk show joke his now tour with Lady Gaga was cancelled the didn't of the United States, called him a jackass, the VA, backlash his mother's death and the break up with his fiance would Kanye to temporarily abandon music and flee the country, a self exile. A much needed respite literally left Could I stop doing music altogether? I just took some time I went to Japan just so. I can get away from Papa Razi altogether.
And then in November I moved to Rome and just like live there, and then, when I came back to the states, I moved to Hawaii and lived here for like six months and just worked on music again I mean what was good about going away was it was the first time that I got to stop since my mom a pass, because I never stop and I never tried to even you know, soak in what what all that happened. It's it's the first time. I I stop since actually you know made it since I started, and it was time to you, take a break and just develop more as a person as a creative and focusing more on, like my thoughts and ideas, and what I wanted to bring what I wanted to bring to the world. The recording sessions in Hawaii had a distinct purpose. It was there you can scheme to scheme to once again went over the world. I really put my self in his own that I like my life, was dependent on the success of this album in and being with Maybe in the case of say, you know what
no matter what anybody says about me: they won't. I can can write something that. Can make someone that hates me the most have to really respect to love this song achieve this ambitious scheme. Connie indefinitely block booked all three session rooms at the apex recording studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, engineers dressed in reservoir dogs style, suits man, the boards twenty four hours a day Connie would or some of the world's best producers, Mcs and artists, to form what he called rap camp. He would rarely sleep working long hours through the night. Moving for room to room until inspiration struck, yay a seemingly silly incident at a useless award show would become a primary ingredient in the creation of one of the most critically acclaimed. Albums of all time is thirteen tracks are ambitiously scaled, the Musical MAX alisme as yet unheard in the world of hip hop within this Sonic Coliseum Connie bears the confliction between his ego and insecurity
the purity of his creative gifts and his incessant need for adoration. It would be Connie's comeback, album a universally acclaimed, modern masterwork, the album that for many solidify stature as one of the most influential artists of the last decade, of course, we're about Connie W two thousand and ten album my beautiful dark twisted fantasy, season. Two you have dissect will be dedicated entirely to my beautiful dark twisted fantasy. There are certain a lot to unpack on this album from the
can the matic density of songs like gorgeous the soul music, this this is more than just to this day. Are studded. Epileptic firework show of all the lights to the
vulnerable, centerpiece run away, Dark twisted fantasy is an oral pageantry of west uncanny talents as a producer think about the mission of the four solo albums that preceded it automatically twisted fantasy is a loose narrative that outlines Connie's rise and fall from public grace, a colitis VIC meandering into the deep recesses of his mind his fantasies, one he's, brash and confident the next season, honorable and lost this. Dichotomy is a reflection of Connie psyche.
And, as we'll see it's a dichotomy that existed well before his rise to stardom. Our first three episodes this season will serve as preface to twisted fantasy. Today will for Connie's early life and hard fought ascension up the ranks of the music industry. Our next episode will use the track through the wire to examine Connie's, early production and rapping style. Finally, will take a look at his early discography and detail the events leading up to the creation of my beautiful dark twisted fantasy. This will, of course the requisite contextual backstory to twisted fantasy? which is so much the synthesis of Connie's compositional skill set. His dramatic- personal life and his faltering public persona, but before we dive into our analysis, we might address up front the enormous elephant, that's forever in the room with Connie West George Bush doesn't care about black people mister West is a challenging polarizing figure. I'm standing
but I'm telling you I am wore hall. I am the number one most impact artists of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh Walt Disney. Yes, arrogance and ego are monumental. You know he's got a God complex because he said they wrote the Bible again and he will be in it does yeah. I would be in there yeah he's now married to a Kardashian and one of the famous people in the world and it would seem that everyone feels some type of way about him. I'm fine, I'm a musical genius and inspiring cultural curator find a min narcissistic disrespectful asshole. Some look past the shenanigans and enjoys music on unsullied by his persona. Others find hard to enjoy, or even give his music a chance as they cannot set Great Connie's character from his work, this challenge, is nothing new. Ludwig Van Beethoven despite his revolutionary musical contributions was by
All accounts are troubled notoriously and temperamental. Scrooge were still with Ricard Wagner, angel Titan of the late 19th century opera, music, egomaniac and a very Anti Semite John. Let and famous for his peaceful anthems, like all you need is love and imagine, was busy. Really abusive to his first wife the piece to assign son beat a man to death over a joke. Only the sex scandals of Woody Allen, Bill, Cosby and Roman Polanski make a second guess our enjoyment of their critically acclaimed work, even his store influential figures like Gandhi, who held strong prejudice against black Africans and Martin Luther King, who turn on his wife. Blemishes on their otherwise very noble, resumes and so Are we to feel about admiring the work of those with troubling personal lives? Does one hey your personal life, affect the perception of one's public contributions at what point
draw the line if we draw one at all. Of course, there's no unanimous answer here. It's large really decision we make for ourselves, but in the ACE of Connie, West Weather, a zealous devotee or a staunch opponent kindly ask that all of us begin this podcast season with as much of it clean slate as possible. Let's neither be Siku shun nor defense. Let's replace judge it with curiosity. Let's Kanye West and his work like honest, objective anthropologists, seeking in into our contemporary culture through one of its largest irrefutable icons, because in a world fuelled by digital narcissism and talks, Katie with personal brands in celebrity and where hip hop is, influential music genre of the day. I think, there's a we can learn about ourselves through the musician, the cultural curator, the unavoidable iconic class that is Connie West, and so without further Ado. Let's dissect
Connie Omari West was born June. Eighth, one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven in Atlanta GA two things about Kanye, were very apparent from a young age. Is Nick confident disposition, a strong interest in the arts regarding the young Kanya, his father, Ray West, successful photojournalist, said quote quite the character. Lots energy Quicken during smile. You could really see a certain confidence with himself his mother Dr Donda West College English professor adds quote he wasn't data playing with others, because he always had to be the leader always wanted to go his way at three sword. Connie spent most of his time. Drawing page five writing, poetry, after he and his mother moved to the south side of Chicago following his parents, divorce, con I attended an arts focus elementary school at age can you receive this first keyboard are claimed that he wanted to be a music producer and rapper. Well, he did
Have the patience to properly learn how to play piano? He began making music age, fourteen he discovered sampling. I have my computer trying to join, and then I got sound program like somebody boo need to copy the disk when we go to sample, and I found myself just want to work going out all the time then I found myself like. home from school, because I have an idea like looking at right, linear, two slash three I go. I want to get this beat down, but I didn't even know anything about sampling. I was fourteen years old. I want to suck turns out our mail. told me: YO people you, do the type of music you do they sample. I had no idea, I just return. I know why my stuff didn't sound exactly like the stuff on the radio the sampler was like yo two thousand dollars for some way fourteen years old only getting allows. I was like eight million dollars of as I go. Maybe you can save the allowance. I had like twenty dollars a week, how long stable for two thousand dollars, so I'm just
working with that, then I found out you can get like a little a bit sample for the computer, so I get that and of course, first thing I want to sample with James Brown by age. Fifteen Connie was spending every spare minute making music Connie's mother had a friend who son was a music producer Aman that would come to have a profound effect on the developing Connie, his name Dionne Wilson, aka, no id no id. As I get you ever heard of common sense. I was he you guys so called take it easy on the radio right now he called he's he's. Well, I know a friend of mine said her son. deuces form are, they all were not there, so she's like yeah, give you his number. His name is d on his rap name is immense mountain immense something. His name is Amit slope magnet so now we're over his crib and I remember walking in there is like walking and def jam ballet walking into Kevins Office is something like that's the closest you could process
get to the industry 'cause. They actually had some that you heard on the radio and it was dope nose, and so he changed his numbers about one hundred times in me, but figure out how to get him I'll be knocking on his window while you his girl, so then I had to go out on my own at that point. He told me a lot, but I had to take it upon myself. She just instead of music that was out there and try to get more music as good as dead. There is mentor ship with no id and his unwavering work. Ethic Connie began to make a name for himself as a high school kid who sold beats for fifty dollars. local Mcs all the while Connie was honing his craft as lyricist and rapper after graduating. High school Connie, who also excelled at Meeting received a scholarship to attend the American Academy of ART in nineteen. Ninety seven, This was short lived as you would trance. Chicago State University where his mother was a professor during this time money, continue to passionately, pursue music, be formed. The group the go getters in which you would both rap and
an early sign of Connie's, unrelenting drive. He and others would protest. outside radio stations, with picket signs trying to get the go getter single played on the radio. 87Th street determination paid off as a Sahm became a local hit Chicago area Connie acknowledges Ical deficiency in his early days, but and we'll see this time time again throughout his career. He you overcame's weakness with passion and perseverance. I'm always rapping. I had groups and I was always the weakest rapid added the people in the group, you know they always be like so my really had it, but they just had a passion for it, but I had to every night I was working every night I just like
Nothing is going to stop me like people who look up in like YO. I just heard Connie like I've been doing this since really like Yo tell my teachers like, may I might not even have to turn in my homework this year, 'cause I'm going to be signed this year, you're saying back in seventh grade a major miles Connie's production career would come in nineteen. Ninety eight, when Columbia, record artist, Jermaine Dupri use Connie's, be for the song, print it out. They contain from beginning to the edge never to one lose. All I do is win calls college park is in the house. They call me, God Cici, an attorney that love me in a buggy from the head label. Artists expose Connie to the big leagues of the music industry. He secured a meeting with Columbia Records in New York City Connie was so convinced he was going to land a record deal. The twenty year old, dropped out of college. Confident in uh
likely a bit. Cocky Connie was flown out to Columbia, records in New York City. The deal seemed to be in place, but in the meeting Connie pulled a Kanye boastfully telling executive Michael Mauldin that he was going to be bigger than Michael accent that is better and would sell more records and Jermaine Depree Little did Connie know that that was actually Jermaine, Deprise Father Connie left. The meeting never did hear from Columbia. Again Connie flew back to Chicago devastated. He got so close to his dream. Only to see it slip away in a matter of moments, ochotny, use a setback as fuel and double down on himself. not going to parties or clubs altogether to focus solely on his music every night, Glc set of this time quote taken no showers, no haircut, no new shoes, nothing. He was just in front of that keyboard. Every day
Connie, was more determined more focused than ever to keep the lights on. He sold for five hundred to one thousand five hundred dollars, ghost wrote for bigger producers like and ran his own small production company. There no id Connie would connect with Kyambo Joshua aka hip. And in our representative, at Rockefeller in New York, the record company owned by Jay Z and an imprint of Island Def JAM records hip hop, shows one of Connie beats for Rockefeller Artist, Beanie Sigel event, becoming the song, the truth, honey considered. The with his angle into the Rockefeller camp. Up there, like the first reggae wow really got recognition for was the truth.
even though, when the great commercial success is like, I just really got that receipt. Because I always want to respect from these- that I told you that it's true thing right here. Man, I'm not trying to do this for a check on there. So this will mean a lot to me there. That was a great read it, because also for my relationship with Rockefeller, then next doings can't life. This can't be life is a song produced by Kanye from Jay Z's, two thousand album the dynasty I was going through, which made for music flute site like I was born jewish arms. Thirty eight loans inside my mom's been waiting at any given moment showing honey first played the beat over the phone from Chicago to hip hop in New York. Connie honey visited New York to track the record and it was there he Jay Z, for the first time. This can't be life make two things clear: more soul, style beats, and it might be time to leave Chicago for good for
time, people selling selling man. If you go out to New York, we could really get your music going. Go the game out there, but you know your family out there. I got my girl that there had my group out there. I felt like I had a responsibility to the city to stay there and help try to make it blow. But then it's like is draw at the start of the straw broke the camels back. I had two artist What is in, I'm leaving me getting signed and then getting beat for me that I had another artist not signed to my company, and then he end up leaving and when he's telling me he's leaving my so it came upstairs and was like. You have too much traffic in your house, you evicted, so I was like man that point. If I wanted to leave, but in so I Really, thank God. That's another one. A situation was I knew that it was a lighted in the automatically when it happened. I said, oh, I see what's happening, I don't want me to be here. No more within a week in New York, a chance
encounter at baseline studios gave Connie an opportunity to play a number of beats for Jay Z, the. Yes, now the stuff of hip hop legend, that was the key right. A man able to walk up, been a bass and play these rappers. These beats. These beats. How members many sequels birthday I came out played a bunch of likes to be that we have Sobeys here in there. Well, I had a bush I was building up like just like the from the success can be life as a. I need to make some more stuff in this vein right here. So I'm playing, Mason bees and he gets mad like there is it was a goes around, isn't going somewhere for his birthday and a came in I'm in he had a gucci had a like a home. The facing me joy and hip hop my manager will definitely save. My life was die. Go play that one b four fold it came on, don't Stockton,
listen this to like always. It's crazy right here then got to the cars and, of course, like ain't, no love in the heart of the city I use like all I do is they they did he's. I don't play play next week play enough to this store, like you, you will solve for doing. Everything that hold is saying is like installing, like. I would never forget. None of these words 'cause I'm off the train, I'm from Chicago so I got ten dollars in my pocket right now and I'm just having the opportunity to play these beats. So you know say: I've had given so called hit records everything up at that point. But at this point it's like I'm this is like the moment of truth for me right here. So now play another be down play another be then I played details. It was like never never, never. Never that change change, maybe like them
maybe hold my body is be so he's, like you know, put their Joyce LCD and he left out right now. Is that ok, I'm putting these guys so cd we'll see what happen so in Two days later, the blueprint was finished right. So basically, at that point, everything started. Rolling Connie had five of the thirteen songs on Jay Z, seminal, album the blueprint a bona fide hip, hop classic among them was attract Izzo Jay Z's first, ten single Kanye's production style, which will explore in detail in our next episode, came to be known as chipmunk soul for the utilization of pitched up soul, music samples, building the success of the blueprint Coneys Chipmunk,
all would shape have pop sound in the early two thousand. It is after the blueprint Connie became one of the industry's most in demand. Producers during the years two thousand and one through two thousand and four he would produce for Knauz Cameron, Scarface, Taalib, Qualy, little Kim T, Dmx, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Twista, JANET Jackson, most def John Legend, Mobb, deep, and many more and while the majority of us would be satisfied with a very successful production career, including a stockpile of chart topping singles Connie was not, you could
to view his production as secondary to his rap career, that he was desperately attempting to get off the ground he would wrap in plays demo for anyone who listen most indulge Kanye because they wanted his beats, but no one took him seriously as a rapper, largely to a suburban middle class background and preppy attire. That was at odds with the quote. Unquote, Ganks persona, so popular in mainstream hip hop at the time I was always rapping, It just so happened that really really Phenomenal rappers get the rapper my these before I get a chance to so that pushed me into the classification of a producer, but I'm a rapper from the heart. Like I got something to say you don't saying, and people like that, what you finna rap about you never saw crack at your house and put a gap to amount to put your fifty mouse say how you going to move the crowd. I bet one thousand that you give boot out
Jose and like now the rap game change. Someone should go from tribe, called quest to onyx to um Swiss, be still rock little bad bad in so many different sounds and So it's like almost laying like double dust like where do you get in the game you like trying to like you know how does my style fit into what I'm doing right now? So I'm lucky that I had the opportunity to have a plateau to stand on now that my style of beats is the most popular down on the radio right now. Indeed, Connie Continue to leverage this reduction to expose his demo to industry executives. He met with us any labels, as he could often jumping on top of the meeting table to perform over his beats. as you like to recount later Connie played for these labels. Jesus walks the song that eventually earned him a Grammy and he still didn't get signed. In fact, Connie was sometimes laughed at rapper, hot Carl, who work with Connie in the early 2000s recounts,
in such occasion quote. I remember one day, while recording Connie played an early version of Jesus walked several years before its release to room that did it myself some ainars, some assorted industry types, DJ, clue, rapper, fabulous an engineer. Duro as a song played Connie, acted out in mouth his lyrics, something he always did while his own music played- and I assume still does he act size of a music video with always being filmed around him, this playing yet another example of the unaware, enthusiasm and egotism. That would make him too, but I've almost every joke at baseline, the song ended some people shared some positive, but subdued comments and Connie left for the kids a few seconds passed before the entire room and wrapped in laughter a few people even mocked him mimicking his rap voice and making fun of the over the top seal. One major producer in the room even asked his assistant to make sure Connie never performed like that again. Unquote
Can we just quickly pause here and consider how truly remarkable Connie's will and belief in himself was at this time? seemingly no one respected him as a rapper rejection from label, after label mocked and criticized by his respected peers and still Connie persevered and continue to follow his dream. Unpersuaded by the rejection and naysayers, of the light everything that anybody ever said in life would be a disadvantage to me. I will make it my advantage when I was basketball a by said. I was too short, I'm killin with the scoops, you know J. Everybody says you can't rap because you a producer ok, oh I hear that Bii know I produced it. I just wrapped on it. When you get a chance to hit you see my only use everything that everybody says that. I can't do or I'm gonna flip it to the positive, like I look at everything as a glass, half full and half empty, and it's like My personal hold grudges, like one of my best friends, made a song dissing me and I looked at all the positive
Situation, I'm like look probably my name or more. He came to me like, though, I'm sorry like I feel like. Maybe A lot of the rules of hip hop like a lot of the aggression and negativity that people have towards people. Maybe I'm not hip hop because of that. cuz of where my heart is so because I won't confide to what people say a lot of stuff, I feel like ninety percent. Ten percent of life is what happens to you. Ninety percent is how you react to it. Connie would continue his pursuit of a record deal. Finally, getting interest from a young nineteen year old, a and r executive at Capitol records, name, three age range met, Kanye loved his music and convince the higher ups at capital to present Connie with the record. Of course Connie was a static, but his excitement was short lived according to three h, and the eleventh hour head of urban Narfell the producer rapper thing wasn't a sure shot and ultimately, the deal got shut down when Dave dash, CO owner of Rockefeller, heard the news about capital pulling out
We decided to go ahead and sign Connie he's heard, in his recent songs and was impressed and thought that if anything else, We could load Connie's album with guest features from established, Rockefeller artists, and so on August. Third of two thousand and two Kanye West Side, a fella records and Kanye finally got the record deal he dropped about since third grade, I'm not using rap as away that thing, I'm a get paid a sum. I'm I'm doing that as an opportunity to really say some stuff that they need to be heard. I think people will enjoy I'm trying to give back. I want to tip the him us and like it's all I can listen to. It is out maybe they I want to give back to when I used to listen to mob these album on the train. Well, my headphones on and that's what made the train ride like. I was in a band because I just had
now we might even say it didn't matter what car was it didn't matter if I was walking the street in my advising the rain or what happened because I had headphones on. I had that hip hop in my ears, like it's done so much for my life, so until I feel like I could really really give back yeah. I'm saying that I feel, but definitely like I gotta always show love to like Rockafella d DOT. Jermaine Depree is a lot of people that help me in my life, but maybe now Rockefellers. Finally, let me get to the point that I've been waiting to get to my tire life since third grade Connie began at once on his debut album by all accounts pouring everything he had into it. Unfortunately,
quickly became apparent that for Damon Rockefeller signing Connie may have been more about securing his beats and actually putting out an album. Rapper GLC recalls quote Dame Nude Connie was the best producer and bottom line. He wasn't fit to. Let them good beast, get away out of Rockefeller he was right. Connie's album was not prioritized by Rockefeller to continue progress on it. Connie would show early and stay late at his production sessions. The phrase near: working himself to death is not hyperbole in Connie's case late session at a studio, in LOS Angeles, Connie fell asleep at the wheel on his way to his hotel, you cross the intersection and collided head on into oncoming traffic. His face smashed it's a steering wheel, breaking his John three places surgery was conducted immediately and it was quest
whether Connie would ever be able to wrap again. Of course, Connie was able to wrap again and did so sooner than most would have thought possible in fact he recorded a song. While his mouth was still wired shut after surgery, the song would become a bona fide hip, hop classic the that would actually for Us Rockefellers hand in prioritizing Connie's album goosefoot breakfast to ensure for desert somebody order. Pancakes artistic pieces are right. There could drive a sane man busy talking about the song through the wire Connie's first hit from his debut album, the college dropout withdraw. Thirdly, explorer
stymied, dissect, dissected, written and produced by me see music by bureaucratic if you enjoy dissect consider dropping review on Apple podcasts, tell a friend about the show or show link on your favorite social media outlet, there's no team behind dissect. It's just me can use all the help I can get growing. The show follow at dissect, podcast on Twitter and Instagram and join our dissect community group on Facebook by searching dissect podcast, you like to support dissect you, so at patreon dot, com, slash dissect by pledging model is one dollar per month. You can help dissect become more sustainable and help me offset some of the costs of the show, a big shadow to my diamond level, supporters, Evan, Sweat, Salman Chaudhry and Jonathan Hardy way further.
Generous pledges. That's patriotic spelled p a t, r e, o n dot com, slash dissect, okay, last thing, as many of you know, last season was dedicated entirely to Kendrick Lamar's to pimp a butterfly. I teamed up with uh Talented artists and dissect listener Hannah sellers to create a book. That book is called the blacker the berry Visual exploration of a single song, Kendrick Lamar's, the blacker, the berry, Anet created beautiful, graphic collage the company. My analysis of the song, and it really enhances your experience and understanding of Kendricks message. This thing is absolutely gorgeous a true piece of art. Last month we launched a kickstarter for the book. Right now. You can visit kickstarter dot com, search, the blacker, the berry and back this project by pre Bring your very own copy will be done. The one dollar for every book order to social works. The youth empowerment, charity, by chance. The rapper.
Kickstarter and soon August, twelve, so be sure to pre order. Your book now again the kickstarter dot com and search the blacker, the berry. Okay, thanks everyone I'll talk to you next week,.