Words by Clinton Sparks:
I met Kanye West almost a decade ago at The Mixshow Power Summit. At this point in time, he was still relatively unknown as far as a household name goes, but I was a fan and big supporter of not only his production but what he was doing on his mixtapes. (Shout to Plain Pat.)
I remember when I saw him just kind of nonchalantly hanging by himself in a room filled with DJs, radio station employees, other artist and label reps – and wondering why no one was paying attention to him as much as I thought they should have been. In my mind, he was awesome and headed to – well, exactly where he is now. I took the opportunity to go say “what’s up” and hang while all the other DJs were talking to the artist that were crackin’ at that moment. He was super cool and humble and seemed to be pretty stoked that someone finally recognized him. Long story short, we exchanged numbers and went on our way.
Fast forward some years – before he was ever on my radio show or we ever did a mixtape together – I recall an occasion when I was working on a mixtape and I hit him on his cell. I proceeded to tell him what I was doing and the idea I had for him to be involved. I’ll never forget his response to my asking him to do a verse on a record I had. The best part about it is I thought it was so awesome and it literally encompasses the man we have all grown to love (or for those that love to hate him). For the record, the tone of what you’re about to read was in the most humbling way this could be said, and it went like this:
Me: “So what do you think man, can you jump on this record?”
Kanye: “You know, I love your idea and hear what you’re saying but I just don’t have the time right now, you know? I wish I could do everything that people ask of me and jump on every song and do what every DJ asked me to do but I’m kinda hot right now. I mean, I’m Kanye West. Do you know what it means to be me right now? I mean, I’m taking off as a producer, I’m taking off as an artist and I just don’t have the time.”
There’s obviously more after that but that was so strong, it’s all I heard!
As disappointed as I was that he couldn’t be apart of my record, this was the most awesome, realest answer I have ever got being in the music business because the truth is,THIS WAS THE TRUTH. He was in fact was the shit. I became even more of a fan of him from this answer than I probably would have if he actually did the record.
Zipping through the years, mixtapes, studio run ins with one another and radio interviews. We catch up one day in 2009 at The grove in LA. At this point I have been offered record deals from Akon to Ludacris to T.I. and I was working on an album. Anyhow, I played him my music, told him some concepts, gave him my overall scope of what I wanted my album to sound like and told him it would be like 80% featured artist and 20% me – you know, like Timbaland.
(Side note: Prior to discussing this with him, I had just recently for the first time started singing and it was ONLY because I couldn’t find anyone to demo the songs that I was writing. I was told by a few industry friends that I sounded good from Akon to Ross but I felt like they were just saying that because we are friends. I didn’t think I was very good. The first time I took it seriously was when I wrote and produced a record and Beyonce recorded it. During the studio session she asked, “who it was singing the demo”? When she found out it was me, her response was, “It’s already a hit like this.” Pull the needle across the record – Whoooooa! Did Beyonce really say that????)
Okay SO back to Kanye. After hearing me out he says, “with what you just played me, your story, your relationships and your ideas, your album should be 80% you and 20% guests. F#ck using other artist as a crutch. You can do this yourself.”
Wow, did Kanye West really just co-sign me??? So I say, “Really, you think so?” Then he hits me with the Kanye that we know and love answer:
“Well, I’m not going to say it twice.”
I’ve been Kanye’d twice… So Awesome. Two people that have absolutely nothing to gain from me think that I have what it takes to proceed making music as the vocal artist. Hmmmmmm.
Anyhow, He then says he is going into the movie and asks if I want to watch the movie too. Man, my mind is in space thinking about the possibilities of what I should go make in the studio that I pass and immediately head back to work. I don’t think he has any idea what he did to my mind that day butt I’ll always be grateful because technically, Kanye made me become an artist.
(Another side note: Have you ever heard the Tierra Marie song “Make her feel Good” remix with Kanye West and Jay-Z, and Jay-Z says “Get Familiar” at the beginning?? Jay told me he said that as a thank you to me for all the early support I showed Kanye. Glad someone noticed ;))
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